As different places round this septic isle get hauled into tier 3, and the inhabitants of tier 2 worry about, not the number of virus cases, but whether the amount has triggered joining the poor souls who are having to put up with even more restrictions in tier 3. Wales deciding to lockdown and are even contemplating deploying tanks to patrol the border, finding a ground hop ale trail is becoming increasingly more difficult. Where I went last week, I wouldn’t have been able to do this week. The way the media portray the amount of cases, you’d think these places in tier 3 are rampant with it. People keeling over dead in front you. You’ve only got to read my blog post from last week to realise that it’s no where near as bad as they’re making it out to be, yet here we are. Putting up with ridiculousness and having our civil liberties eroded. Yes yes, I know I said I wouldn’t rant about it anymore, but as this virus and the way it’s being handled impacts so much on my and everyone else’s lives, a rant appears to be almost as compulsory as the ineffective restrictions and measures that are in place. I met up with Jinksy at New Street and we caught the Cardiff train down to Worcestershire Parkway. There’s several of these ‘Parkways’ round the railway system, and they’re all the same, they’re characterless things, they drain your soul. This one wasn’t any different. The 12 minutes enabled Jinksy to have a smoke, so I went out with him, well there was nothing else of interest there, absolutely nothing. After catching the connection, we touched down in Evesham. Evesham sounds like it should be bigger than what it is. It reminded me of a small Shrewsbury or St Albans. It’s classed as the capital of the Cotswolds yet instead of the chocolate box, honey coloured stone buildings, there’s loads of black and white timbered ones. I’d only ever been in a car being driven through the place on a mini tour of the Cotswolds and that was at least half my life ago. It had actually been on my wish list, albeit not at the top though, but given the situation at the moment, and when Jinksy mentioned about watching Evesham and after a little research of pubs there, I settled on the idea. Walking to the first pub I’d pencilled in, Jinksy not only noticed a branch of the bank he works for, but as it was in one of those black and white timbered buildings I’ve mentioned, he couldn’t resist the urge to take a photo of it. Not entirely sure I would take a photo connected to work, but then you don’t get many factories in black and white timbered buildings. I suppose it’s not easy driving a forklift truck in one. Probably something to do with the low ceilings. The Valkyrie Cafe Bar would’ve been a decent place to go in proper times. You can sense that the takings have been slashed with an axe because of the daft restrictions and measures in place. They used to have ‘press gangs’ going round pubs in search of sailors to man ships. Pubs could now do with their own press gangs going in search of customers. We felt guilty that we were only staying in there for one before moving on. The Royal Oak opposite had more of a food feel.
We gave the beer from Purity a wide berth and both had the rebadged Royal Oak from Ringwood. Why did we give Purity a wide berth? Because of the breweries strong links to that football club that festers at the bottom of the road I live on. More Impurity than Purity. There’s only one entry in the Good Beer Guide for Evesham, and we found that it wasn’t open. With The Trumpet being fairly close, it wasn’t a total disaster. The Trumpet is tied to the Hook Norton Brewery, a brewery that has been around an awful long time and it’s one that knows how to brew decent beer. Of all of the pubs I wanted to do after the closed Red Lion, The Trumpet was the one I wanted to do most. Another with a sense of humour.
They had the football on in here, but I’m really getting to the stage where I’m not that interested. It just seems so false. Far too sterile. Maybe if I was an ‘armchair fan’, I wouldn’t notice so much and I’d still be captivated by it. I need that ‘real’ feeling, that feeling of being part of something. Yeah the football itself isn’t brilliant but it’s football, proper football. I feel sorry for the smaller pubs at the moment, the pubs that aren’t part of chains that are more business than service. They’re trying hard. It’s like they’re trying to hold water in their hands. Desperately trying to stop it seeping rapidly through their fingers. A massive company where the pubs are just an arm of the business that they can and will shut down when it not only doesn’t make money but starts losing it, won’t bat an eyelid at making redundancies. For the breweries that haven’t got the luxury of the big companies portfolios, it’s hurting, it’s their livelihoods. You can sense the devastation and desperation. We moved round the corner to the last pub before the game. The Olde Red Horse. We bumped into an old Blues fan in here. His mask displaying the iconic club emblem. Judging by the homemade tattoos on his fingers, he looked to be one of the old school Skinheads from the late 70s early 80s. Albeit briefly, it was great meeting up with him. Glancing outside, I noticed it smashing it down with rain. Not knowing how far the ground was, I didn’t fancy getting soaked. Jinksy agreed and ordered a taxi. Saying farewell to the old Blues fan, we jumped in when it arrived.
The ground wasn’t as far as I thought and wasn’t the worst of set ups. For Non-League, it had an excellent, well stocked souvenir shop. Jinksy bought a badge as proof of attendance and I was able to get a programme for my proof. In all honesty, as long as I know I’ve been to a game at a ground, that’s all that matters. I really don’t care if someone doesn’t believe me. It does help writing a rubbish account of it on here mind. I was hungry, so was Jinksy. Jinksy doesn’t eat meat so his choice of food at a football ground is rather limited to say the least. I noticed sausage baps on the menu. It was too hard to resist. I wish I hadn’t bothered though. The sausage was so disgusting that I had to go back and buy another as soon as I’d finished. I can only assume that these little pieces of heaven were local and so didn’t see the point of asking. I didn’t want to miss a mouthful anyway.
Although the end where we stood was covered, it wasn’t terracing and was just hard standing, the terracing was behind the other end and wasn’t covered.
It wasn’t the best of first halves, but the conditions didn’t help. 0:0 and we made early use of the bar. Although on keg and now brewed by Brains in Cardiff, they had Brew 11 on. It was rude not to. Being served it in plastic meant we could take it back out with us to watch the game. Us, not the beer. Beer hasn’t eyes and can’t watch football. As seems to be usual at the moment, we missed a goal and it had been scored by the away team. It didn’t take long for Evesham to equalise Cinderford’s opener. The rest of the game was better than the first half and probably deserved a winner, possibly from the home side. 1:1 it finished though.
Much as we’d both actually been impressed with Evesham, neither of us wanted to be stuck there or worse still, stuck at Worcestershire Parkway. We put on a Daryl type move back to the station. Obviously not as fast as Daryl, only he can create sparks from trainers. We did make it back into town quick enough to duck into an off-licence though. However, there wasn’t anything that appealed to me and so only Jinksy had something. Jinksy had a fag outside the station but was within eyesight when 3 scantily clad young girls and a bloke walked onto the platform to get the train. Jinksy caught my attention and motioned to them. The young girl sat on the bench with me noticed and shook her head. I decided to spark up a conversation. I wish I hadn’t bothered and so did she. It wasn’t a heated conversation but we definitely somehow got our lines crossed. We were actually on the same page as one another but for some unknown reason, neither of us could ascertain that understanding. She was Eastern European but it wasn’t her excellent grasp of English that was the problem, but our appalling grasp of combined mindset. The more we tried, the more we dug holes. In the end, frustrated and upset, she got up and moved off, leaving me bemused, confused and extremely disappointed. Certainly not the most ideal way I would’ve liked to have spent the time waiting for the train. Worcestershire Parkway really is a soulless place. It’s devoid of any colour, like some giant dystopian dentist waiting room but without any out of date magazines to help pass the time away. Touching down back in Brum, we went to the Post Office Vaults. This virus has affected everything, not least the way we view politics. Both mine and Jinksy’s viewpoints have shifted somewhat. Although polar opposites, we’ve never had any reason to spark. It appears that not only have our viewpoints shifted, but have shifted to more of a middle ground. After a pint we settled on going to the Head of Steam. It’s a place I hadn’t fancied going to post lockdown. I just knew it would be rubbish. The weather must’ve worked this out, and conspired to open the clouds and dump their entire contents all in one go. New Street resembled a fast flowing river. So much so, that two small boys were playing ‘Pooh sticks’. They splashed off when the captain of passing fishing boat shouted at them. We were met at the door of the Head of Steam by an unwelcoming party that consisted of a doorman and a table girl. Both running round like headless chickens whilst trying to adhere to the particular protocol of the day. We just wanted to get out of the deluge of rain. Finally after a small, stressed out disagreement between the two of them as to which table we could be despatched to, we were guided to one. Just as we sat down, we spotted JK and Daryl as they spotted us. Much to the consternation or relief (Not sure which) of the unwelcoming party, they were allowed to join us. They’d been to Stapenhill to watch Cadbury Athletic. it was just nice to chat and banter like mates do, amongst the chaos this virus has created. If Coronavirus was a person, then they would mischievously revel in what they’ve caused. Instead of carrying on somewhere else with the other three, I decided to call it a night. The clouds must’ve been empty as the rain had stopped. While they were being refilled, I started to walk home. I spotted Jude first, at least some things don’t change. Wherever Jude is on a Saturday night, you can pretty much guarantee that she’ll be with Spoons. By personal admission, he’s no oil painting, but for me, he was a sight for sore eyes, and I hugged him. I hadn’t seen him for the best part of 8 months and as he doesn’t have, and won’t have a mobile phone, you won’t be surprised to hear that he’s not on any social media platform either. That includes our WhatsApp group too. Football fans who regularly go home and away, are a strange breed. For 9 months of a year, we meet up virtually every week, (Sometimes twice) and spend an inordinate amount of time in each other’s company. It’s only 3 months of the close season that we drift off to do other things. Add on an extra 5 months and given the situation we find ourselves in at the moment, and you can understand my delight and relief at seeing him. Before I could catch up with them both any further, their bus came. Pleased at seeing him and Jude, I stuck my headphones in to give my walk home a soundtrack.