I should, perhaps, be worried that some readers might take this blog too seriously, but then I remember that anyone who does will have long ago stopped reading, blocking the words “retiredmartin“, “excellent Doom Bar” and “evil tasters”.
But then again I know you’ll believe that a trip to Kilmarnock Spoons in the company of Duncan The Pubmeister was EXACTLY what I wanted on my 57th birthday (22 December, mark it on your new Cliff Richard calendar.
I’d spent the previous 22/12 that I was allowed to leave my back yard in Duncan’s company, driving him round North Wales grim industrial estates.
Now it was his opportunity to drive me round grim post-industrial Ayrshire, starting with a return to Kilmarnock I’ve been waiting 27 months for.
Bless their little hearts, they’d made the town really welcoming for me, with posh barbers, a sign saying “Forever Young” clearly made for me, and a lovely row of mobility scooters.
Duncan parked up and spent 20 minutes laughing at my Beer Guide while I counted down the commencement of licensed hours at the Wheatsheaf, it being wowser Scotland where a man (or woman, sexist), can’t get a beer at 9am like Boris allows us in England.
3 days before the exchange of presents, which in our household tales 0.00 seconds, the High Street was barren.
But to give Killie its due, the pedestrianised streets are great, and the New Kirk is better than Shatner.
At two minutes to eleven (11) I became the first person ever to buy fruit in Kilmarnock.
A tonne of bananas and a tonne of apples for two quid. I like to treat myself on my birthday as no-one else does, except Duncan of course.
In 2019 I had been in the Wheatsheaf .
“The Spoons had just dropped out of the Guide. It’s bound to come back in, I thought. and popped in waving my 50p voucher.
But the queues were daft, and it was the shabbiest Timbo emporium I’ve been in (apart from Glasgow’s Crystal Palace) , so I headed straight for the tick“.
The queues weren’t daft this week, as some folk prize being able to visit their in-laws in Irvine more highly than a cheap pint. Those people will cry salty tears when all the Spoons are closed.
It wasn’t shabby at all now, it could have been St Neots or Helensburgh, and my only wish was that one of the half dozen Old Boys queueing at the bar would pick cask rather than
John Smiths Tennents.
Miraculously, one of them DID order cask, two (2) pints of Abbot. It was almost like Tim Martin had instructed them to do that so I could have the third pint pulled on my birthday.
The chap, who I know was called Peter as the barmaid said “Oh, Peter !”, told me the Abbot was actually £2.15 not £2.39, and in return I didn’t tell him my CAMRA voucher was giving me another 50p off or I suspect I could have converted him to the cause and he’d have been at the next Ayrshire & Wigtown CAMRA meeting volunteering to be BLO for Seagate Brewery.
It was every bit as good as you’d hope; cool, rich and foamy (NBSS 3.5). Scottish beer rules OK.
The problem with a mid morning pint of Abbot is that it can cloud your judgement, and the temptation to nip in for a half of Tennents and scotch chaser (or is it the other way round ?) was huge.
But Duncan had finished marking my GBG homework (“Must do better, particularly in Devon and West Wales”) and was ready to roll.
Next stop, Troon, but not before Duncan pointed out the ground of Bonnyton Thistle.