Work half days are ace, aren’t they? That air of smugness as you stride into the workplace, ask everyone how they’re doing and casually drop in that you’re leaving at dinner time.
“Where are you going?” It doesn’t matter.
“What have you got planned?” None of your concern, mate. All I know that when that clock hits half 12, I am out of here.
I’ve got a Tuesday afternoon to myself, and the north of England is my oyster. All the pubs are quiet, all the trains are quiet, I can bask in the intense self-satisfaction of being out of the workplace on a weekday afternoon. While I have never won a European Cup, an Olympic medal, or even had a tweet hit the five-figure retweet mark, I assume this is the same rush of adrenaline that those people who have get.
This is fantastic - I’m en route to a delightful northern town armed with a bag of cheese and onion McCoys and two cans of Beck’s. My mate is here, as well, moaning about his ruptured ACL and proudly donning his 1989 Sherpa Vans Trophy winning Bolton Wanderers shirt. The sun is shining and we’re about to sample the delights Bolton has to offer.
For those unfamiliar with this corner of Lancashire, just imagine Sunderland without the seaside and everyone sounding like Peter Kay. Painted that visual picture? Right, now we’re cooking with gas.
While some may have opted for the cosmopolitan vibe of Manchester for their Tuesday afternoon ale, we’ve got the small pleasures of a pint and a pasty costing £3.20. The fun doesn’t stop there, ladies and gentlemen, as Hogarth’s across the road from the Ye Olde Man & Scythe is dishing out three pints for £6 - praise this wonderful town and everyone who inhabits it.
These are what half days away from the workplace are supposed to be like. And it doesn’t end there as in the suburban paradise of Horwich there is another treat waiting in store.
When produced correctly it is the perfect companion on these cold winter evenings. It can warm the cockles of the soul, mend a broken heart and soothe you through any hardships you may be feeling. I am, of course, talking about Bovril.
It’s your salty, beefy pal that is going to power you through the next couple of hours.
There are some people in this world that scoff at the thought of drinking a beverage of concentrated essence of beef diluted in hot water. “You’re essentially drinking gravy”, they all pipe up with like that is some form of crime. You all like gravy don’t you? Well, here it is in a cup and to be devoured with humble aplomb.
No-one on this green and pleasant land is ever unhappy while drinking a hot, steamy cup of Bovril. It just puts you in the right mood, makes those clouds disperse, providing that arm around the shoulder as it whispers “everything will be alright, mate”.
Bovril may be that arm round the shoulder but it does not prevent the disappointment of being faced with a late-night replacement bus service to head through Greater Manchester. Nevertheless, this is our vehicle of necessity for this last voyage but out of the haze and chilly wind there is redemption. The Greggs is open, praise be this wonderful day.
Sunderland lost 1-0.