So the lad from the mysterious “north of Portsmouth” is first to spot the new Beer Guide.

Outrageously, he’s refused to send us copies of all 597 pages of the new Guide, which none of us tickers have seen yet.

No doubt GBG22 will send me straight back down to Greater Bromsgrove, where a fortnight ago I was trying to complete Worcestershire with only the slight problem of pubs not being open.

The Royal Oak has been under “C” for Catshill in the Guide, but could equally be stuck in Bromsgrove or Lickey Hills so that when we come to “cross-checking” our GBGs we get confused, as we do easily.

In a week when the Chancellor is getting abuse for the teeny-tiny error of confusing Bury and Burnley, I wonder how many of Twitter keyboard warriors could place Bromsgrove on the map, let alone Catshill.

The Royal Oak has lost an “R” on one side of the pub, and a “K” on the other, which is about average for an average village pub in an average UK village.

The back room was filling up with gentlefolk settling in for afternoon tea,

so I joined the lone drinker at the bar. Should I comment on the weather, or his mobility scooter ? I did neither.

Landlord, Proper Job and Enville on the bar, almost the holy trinity of the Midlands pub these days. I was more impressed by the half dozen charity boxes fighting for attention on the bar, but would be more inclined to fund the campaign to protect cask John Smiths.

When folk say “Youngs/Bass/Harveys is better/worse these days, I scream at the phone and wish they’d come to my last two pubs and discover how the same beer (Enville) can taste so different between the Bell & Cross and the Royal Oak. Flat and crisp and clear in one, foamy and less distinct in the second. Still good (NBSS 3), but notably less cool and clean.

I’d stayed in Catshill before; there’s a cheap Travelodge in Marlbrook, but never explored the little shopping arcade on Golden Cross. But now I have. They like their curry here.

And their quail eggs.

But I stuck to the lunch special at Golds chippy. (NF&CTSS 3).

Because you expect it of me.


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