CHRISTMAS LUNCH

3 days off from pubs after my birthday, with trips to see the families and deliver presents. Christmas Eve in Tunbridge Wells, where the in-laws decreed it’s not safe to visit pubs. They’ll be first to complain when they’re all shut.

At least on the way down to Kent we’d stopped over at Cambridge’s brutalised Premier Inn,

and I’d been able to buy Mrs RM a pint of her favourite beer in the Haymakers, Cambridge’s Pub of the Year, which has installed individualised air purifiers on each table.

Yes, a pint of 7.3% Marcus Aurelius to wash down her favourite pizza. Cruelly, I denied her a second pint. There will be repercussions.

All I wanted for 25 December was a GBG tick, but I also wanted to avoid the inevitable accidents at Dartford Tunnel and Newark as seasonal drivers hit the roads, so ploughed back from Kent to Sheffield in 3hrs30.

Pubs need our business, but seemingly not on 25 December when they open 12-3, if at all. How I long for a return to Dickensian times when pubs were called The Three Jolly Porters and were open all day.

Last year our first C*******s in Sheffield was a damp squib and we dragged James round a succession of closed pubs in the Wicker.

This year I stayed close to home, walking the 40 steps to the Blind Monkey with Mrs RM barely 70 steps behind.

We arrived at 13:00, just two other couples ignoring the social pressure to eat and be merry.

Look how cheery James and Mrs RM to have a beer and crisps Christmas.

The Blind Monkey has grown on me, I love the variety of customers it gets and the staff are wonderful.

And today the inevitable Belgian Blue was at a peak, too. The crisps were past their peak. Has anyone ever returned a packet of ready salted ?

The pub filled up, families, young couples, old folk who’d eaten the turkey early.

It was great.

But last orders was coming in 20 minutes, and we’d have to go home and watch the Queen’s Speech if we weren’t careful.

Frantically, I scanned What Pub…

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