I went on the annual Christmas pub crawl in Liverpool last night, organised by my friend Jean. We began at the Lion in Moorfields, going on to the Vernon, the Ship & Mitre and Rigby's, all in Dale Street. Then into the Cavern Quarter, as it's now called, to the legendary White Star, where the Beatles sometimes used to drink ~ they also used to drink in the Grapes around the corner, but we didn't call in there. The crawl also included the Globe and the Fly in the Loaf, so there was some walking to be done. Lots of good beer, some merely okay, none bad. The best beers came from local microbreweries, such as George Wright and Cambrinus, although Okell's from the Isle of Man (available both in Rigby's and in the Fly) is worth trying, although I didn't see their Mac Lir, a wheat beer which is my favourite in their range. I did find a very nice Christmas beer I hadn't heard of before, but can't recall the name - sorry.
The pubs were absolutely heaving, so much so that in the White Star I was pressed against the door and people were struggling to get in or leave. It was a fight to get to and from the bar in all pubs, and I saw loads of £20 notes heading towards the tills. I know there is a recession, but it wasn't visible last night. No doubt the £1 flat rate return fare on Merseyrail added to the crowds, but it was not exclusively responsible, as a lot of drinkers were clearly straight out of work from the office, judging by their dress. Despite the crush, everyone was good-natured, except for one character in a business suit who elbowed me out of the way. It got him nowhere as his two female companions were stuck behind me, and I made a point of courteously letting everyone through going the other way, so that he had to fight his way back to collect them. In the Globe, there was, as usual, community singing along to the rock & roll CDs, this time to the Beatles: "Ooh I need your love, gerl".
I cracked my usual joke about amateur, once-a-year drinkers getting in the way of us professionals, but to be honest, it would be hard to be churlish when surrounded by so many people who were obviously out just to enjoy themselves and have fun. It was noisy and crowded, and sometimes I had difficulty in hearing what people were saying, but at this time of year, what can you expect?
As we walked back to Central Station, there was a gang of young women (gerls?) walking down a very busy Bold Street all dressed as Christmas presents. Only in Liverpool.