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13th November 2015
Present: Clive Benson, Syd Bennett, David Burrows, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Bill Flanagan, Steve Goff, Peter Holmes, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Mike Melia, Kevin Jordan, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Kevin McDonough, Aidan Moy, John Nelson, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Neil Shortland, Linda Staunton, Dave Whittle
A sizeable gathering assembled at Manchester Victoria station for the 10:26 service to Leeds.
We wasted no time after out arrival at Leeds City station. The inclemency of the weather that day provided the necessary incentive to head towards the city centre hostelry Whitelocks where we enjoyed Thwaites, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, John Smiths and Stowford Press cider. In complete contrast to our last visit earlier in the year, the seating was today at a premium. We were all impressed with the architectural character of the premises.
Following our exit from Whitelocks, we were shepherded by Alan to the city centre bus stop for our service to Otley. David B offered some well-intentioned advice to Alan at the stop in an attempt to curtail the journey to Otley but quickly realised his error and proffered a hasty retraction but not sufficiently so in order to head off Alan’s tongue lashing.
Once aboard, it was a straightforward, uneventful journey into Otley. Little did we all realise at that point that it was to prove to be a harbinger of a fateful later return journey!
Upon our arrival in Otley, we immediately navigated our way to the Old Cock. Here, we were treated to Theakston’s, Manchester Bitter, Lancashier Gold (Hopstile Brewery) and Boggart’s Brewery bitter.
Soon after our Cock withdrawal, we were beginning to realise the prodigious density of public houses located within the relatively small town or village of Otley. The residents of Otley must have a very impressive ratio of bars per capita. On the debit side of Otley’s community balance sheet, the local NHS trust probably has its work cut out having experienced an above average influx of patients with cirrhotic livers amongst the local populace.
We quickly arrived in the Junction Inn, which was a short walk down the road. Once again, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Best bitters made their presence known, alongside them were Adnams, Ghost, Robinson’s, and Symmonds cider. As we settled down, conversation soon turned to the middle aged lady sat adjacent to Andy. Whispered voices were asking: “Who is she?” and “What is that lothario Andy up to?” Soon, it quickly transpired that the supposed “femme fatale” was Julie, an ex Manchester City Council colleague known to some of the longer serving erstwhile City Treasurer’s department employees. Sadly, your correspondent’s arrival at the Council was a tad too late to have met her acquaintance. For your information, intended for anybody not present on the day and who never had the pleasure of working with Julie, she held a role in the then Accounts Payments section managed at the time by the illustrious Tony Smethurst.
We duly departed from the Junction and accompanied by our ex colleague Julie, our next stop was The White Swan. We were greeted here by a Sheffield brew: Kelham Island Easy Rider together with Timothy Taylor, Spectre, and Somersby cider.
From a consumptive perspective, we were now well and truly in overdrive mode as we eagerly headed towards the Horse and Farrier for our next port of call. Here, we were faced at the bar by a choice of: Mary Jane, Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker, I.P.A., Otley Gold, Okell (Isle Of Man) and Isle Of Man Malt.
Our final resting place was to be our return to the Old Cock as its position adjacent to the local bus station proved to be optimal for our return bus journey to Leeds.
The return Leeds bound journey proved to be anything but uneventful. We were partly through our return journey when an incident occurred, involving one of the passengers. It quickly became clear that it was a medical emergency whereby a passenger was unable to move after passing out onto the bus floor. It should be pointed out that the cause was not inebriation. At this time, we were not unduly alarmed as Alan is renowned for incorporating appropriate contingencies into all of his project planning. We sat debating between us what the nature of the emergency might be. We were all quietly hoping that our journey would quickly resume as other emergencies may soon have begun to emerge as the effluxion of time continued, given the consumption levels of alcoholic beverages earlier that afternoon. It quickly became apparent that our journey was not about to continue any time soon. Potential bladder emergencies were quickly becoming a mere sideshow as the realisation began to dawn upon us that there was now more than a realistic prospect of not returning to Leeds in time for the return journey home. All the prior planning and organisation of £6 return tickets to Leeds; and for what? We would, if things continued the way they were, be shortly faced with an additional £15 outlay or thereabouts for a ticket home. The fickle hand of fate can indeed deal a cruel blow to the best laid plans. Suddenly, when all hope of salvation appeared to be lost, our fate turned in a more favourable direction as paramedics arrived and the ailing individual was taken from the bus. A hushed gasp of hallelujah was audible around the lower deck as the bus’s engine started and the gearbox was engaged. The question on everybody’s lips was: “Will we make it?” It was “doable”. Just! But, by Odin, it would be tight! The driver was advised by the intoxicated collective at the rear of the bus not to ‘spare the horses’! Each set of traffic signals that we passed was literally collectively willed by all of us to turn or stay green. For some inexplicably bizarre reason and more than likely caused by a state of intoxication, this brought to mind a question put to your correspondent on his driving test some decades ago. He was asked at the time about the colour sequence of automated traffic signals. The question put to him was: “Which colour follows a green light?” Your correspondent’s answer drew a raised eyebrow from the examiner when he heard the plaintiff reply that I’d never hung around long enough to ever find out! We finally arrived in Leeds city centre with minutes to spare. Your correspondent’s sole thought was now to keep Alan and David D in his field of alcohol fogged peripheral vision – lose both these two and he knew it would represent game-over!. It appeared to be the sole thought of others too – the innate primeval instinct of ‘safety within the herd’ in all of us was rapidly coming to the fore. We half walked and half ran back to the station hardly caring about moving traffic at Pelican crossings. Unbelievably, with two or three minutes to spare, the welcome sight of the station came into our blurred focus. Incredibly, we were dealt yet another blow by the cruel hand of fate as we checked the electronic display board of departures and realised that our platform was on the far side of the station and which meant a hike up two flights of platform stairs. Taking two stairs at time and narrowly avoiding serious injury, the fear of failure became palpable amongst us. Almost falling down the stairs to the platform, as we arrived we were notified by the electronic display sign that the train was ten minutes late! One or two members, I recollect, promptly burst into tears. An emotive moment indeed. Alas, our ordeal was not yet over for at least one individual. Word quickly went viral that Kevin Maximus was missing and was believed to have disappeared while in active service on his return to the station. Where was he? Dave D exited the station in an attempt to track him down. He returned shortly with a disconsolate look on his face: his search was unsuccessful. Thoughts of the erstwhile Lord Lucan began to spring into people’s minds. Eventually, Kevin returned under his own steam. Somehow, after disembarking from the Otley Flier, he lost sight of us in the ensuing melee. By this time, the train had been delayed yet further by several minutes so Kevin was able to recompose himself in readiness for the journey back to Manchester.
Everybody extended its gratitude for another excellent beery excursion from Alan.