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The Kennel Kernel

Drinking in the East Midlands..

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Been a while since we saw anything new in this corner, so here's a little piece of bollox from me..


East Midlands is like a poorer vsn of the West Midlands, but with a more Yorkshire accent & a tendency to get called hen, duck, petal or ‘filthy fucking southerner’ depending on the locality. Mostly remembered for the colossal confrontations between the Miners & Mrs Thatcher’s enforcement agents of prime ministerial policy & ambition. They certainly remember it here-mention of it drops room temperature to inviting back the glaciers. Who was a scab & who wasn’t during that time is not unlike who was a Nazi sympathizer in Guernsey. Nobody has forgotten: nobody wants to talk about it. It’s the ultimate taboo. Wide regional variations with some ex-mining communities trying to make the best of it, some who haven’t, feral dangerous utterly bleak towns towards the top right. Curiously in the bottom lies Newark which has a natty castle & a very smart minster town called Southwell which is like an outpost of Surrey. The two principle towns round our way are Retford (Rettie, market town) & Worksop (vile steaming heap of shite. Administrative capital of the district). In between the two lies HMP Ranby, a low security hotel for lazy casual robbers, prob all with the nickname of ‘lucky’. The sort of place where the families use whisper silent RC quadcopters to fly in bags of intoxicating home comforts & the residents use a fishing rod to catch them. Accidents are rife. Also in-between, hidden from obvious view, is the gated community of Osberton. Not like whatisname millionaire’s drive opposite Burhill Park Golf Course, but like a Quaker community with its own church, school, river, pretty watermill & lord of the manor. Has to be one of the poshest dog shows I’ve been to outside of Windsor & the place is teaming with young surrey accents, radiant healthiness, politeness & a sense of going back in time by about 100 years. What it doesn’t have is its own pub…

Should Osbertons feel the need for a stiff one, they’ll have to turn left or right out of the drive & choose between Rettie & Workshy, sorry, Workshit, Worksop. Both towns have a Spoon. During the day one finds the clientele from the now closed White Horse Hotel in the Retford one. These are 2 distinct groups-one the younger, who have stacked their primary coloured brand new baby equipment up against the wall whilst they fill in some forms, organize their night outs on their iphones & occasionally talk to each other. Sometimes they even interact with their children, with one or two exceptions like the young man who was busy playing with his & all the other children. No phone, no tablet, just getting involved, clearly sober & enjoying it. I take my hat off to him. The other party is perhaps like winding the clock forward 40 years (could be much less-this lot have all had a hard paper round). Here we have clear evidence of the consequences of long term alcohol & drug abuse. Their level of interaction with each other is even less frequent & more banal than the other table. Many, many brain cells have expired. You might have thought one table might look at the other & sigh or take warning but they ignore each other’s presence like chickens ignore ducks, whilst both entirely fail to spot the fox lurking in the distance.

It’s just as well we have smartphones, because to optimize the combinations of what free drink with which meal for a group of people requires quad core computing power. Note to self-write a Wetherspoon’s App, retire to newly purchased desert island next week. Fuck knows how the bar staff do it-maybe the apps already been written in-house & is a ROM feature of the chips inside their heads? Talking of which back when I used to face the public in an airport, we talked about newbies becoming ‘retail fit’ This is because airport pace on a quiet day is a bit quicker than the high street on Christmas Eve just as the sale stock is going out. And pushing roll cages of drink over a mile of carpet quickly converts flab to muscle. On the same damp Tuesday the bar is permanently 3 deep & to their credit the staff are lightning quick. It’s not somewhere you’d want your very 1st bar job-I reckon you’d need to work up to it-perhaps in a London Hotel catering for visiting Arabs & Russians when the Olympics were on.

I’ve not been entirely fair to Worksop. It does have some nice bits-round the back is a Priory & some very big rather fine houses. It also has a rather unique street market. I’ve never seen a stall selling both waitress tabernacles together with outsize bras. You can reach your own correlations. I can’t tell you anything about any other pubs because I daren’t go into one, what with my accent. Actually I’ve been more than fair about the place, especially as I haven’t mentioned the outstanding ratio of heroin thin blokes to size unobtanium in TK Maxx, tattoed weebling women. Rettie OTOH has quite a number of quite classy shops which belie the ‘mustn’t grumble’ crowd. A sophisticated & busy deli & dine, tea rooms, & a really proper old fashioned boozer where the beer is good & you could get seriously trollied with no-one bothered. In fact my mate alky Trev (10am-must be time for a brew) & I did exactly that during our pub crawl of Rettie when we 1st moved here, so there’s no ‘could’ about it. The village pubs should really be oustanders (Trev & I did them all too), but they ain’t-mostly. The 2 really good ones are fairly overtly gay (Trev has a problem here) or high end (another issue for Trev). Our mam OTOH now thinks the EM is rather more sophisticated than she previously believed. It was a severely edited tour she got..The pub which is right in the spot where the Pilgrim Father’s mostly came from is a soulless modern dive. The one in our own village, which is right against the Chesterfield Canal & all of 2 mins off the A1 should be a summer time license to print money. It’s now closed-& I suspect the influence of the Spoon in this. Or some deliberate shenanigans from whoever actually owns the place. Shame because during it’s heyday when the car park was crammed it had prob the finest corner I’ve ever seen in a vibrant Parisian Brothel Style & loos full of posh unguents. Timothy Taylors too. Needless to say they sold it shortly after we arrived.

There are a couple of features common to both Spoons. One is that the clientele, even on a wet & blustery Tuesday evening, is dressed to party. Emerald shimmering frocks, big hair, full slap & tan. Blokes are looking groomed & sharp, to a metrosexual level. Another is that outside is a thoughtfully equipped smoking area, rather the usual leper colony with a fire in a metal dustbin & borked brolly. After about 8pm the main street performance act makes their entrance. It’s Jim & Jimmy, from Glasgow. They’re a bit worse for wear, but their Pete & Dud act is faithful, especially the vernacular. There must be an agency for them. There’s another staple too-3 blokes & 1 girl. They do a really convincing deterioration routine-starts out all chummy & by the end the girl is weepy to suicidal & the blokes are all ‘yer the bestest girl, you don’t deserve the likes of him, even though he’s my best mate.’ I’ve omitted the cluster dropping of the C bomb, which also serves as a local term for ‘southerner.’ Or a Tory. Stereotypes mean from a EM perspective that anyone from south of the centre of Birmingham votes Conservative, inc the fat labrador & confused rescued battery chickens.


Bouncers, breakages, hot totty with assassins eyes, middle aged parties, hens, artwork, architectural features, windows, brekkies, shopping crowd, mid afternoon, the after work lot, early evening, children, the doomsday descent from 9pm, or otherwise-place seems to have emptied by then, leaving a hardcore of.. I went outside for a cig & quiet bloke on his own says hello. He’s well spoken, bit of posh about him, but wearing retro trackies & a battered to fuck 70s analogue steel blue day/date dialed Seiko wristwatch. ‘Seems a bit quiet tonight,’ I replied. He looks vaguely thoughtful. ‘Only to be expected really, what with everything that happened last night…excuse for a really tall tale, possibly involving the residents of gated Osberton, burning pitchforks & a campaign team for the Lib Dems.

And now I feel I deserve a drink. Shame it’s 4am & my shift on puppy sitting. Might do some more tomorrow to keep myself awake.

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