It was back in 2003, that the City of Kingston-upon-Hull was listed by a posh lad with a book deal as the crappest town in Britain. It is a label the city didn't need or deserve. I was back there last night in that city of quarter of a million souls. Out on a limb. Wide boulevards. Wide vista over the wide Humber estuary. Of course, I had been to see another Tigers victory over desperate Scunthorpe United. Who knows - one day we may not be able to boast that Hull is the most heavily populated city in Europe never to have had a top flight team!
In the evening, we went to Hull's old town. Once these two square miles were surrounded by a moat and city walls. They protected one of England's most ancient and most important ports. Later the city was to become the world's number one fishing port in terms of tons landed.
In the old town there are some fantastic old pubs, such as you will not find in more modern places like Leeds, Sheffield or Manchester. These pubs have echoes of a long ago past imbued in the very beams that hold them together. They have emerged organically into the twenty first century, creating ambiences that no designer could ever replicate.
We went to the oldest pub in Hull - "Ye Olde White Harte" then on to the Manchester Arms and my favourite one of them all - "Ye Olde Black Boy". Quite an odd name for a public house and nobody seems quite sure how it got that name. The most popular suggestion is that in the eighteenth century, African slaves were traded in the pub before being shipped out to the Americas. Historical evidence to support this claim is very shaky.
After the old town pub crawl, we jumped into a couple of taxis and headed for the nearby town of Beverley to visit the best pub in the world in my humble estimation. It is just near St Mary's church and it is officially called "The White Horse" but everybody in the Beverley area knows it simply as "Nelly's" after a former landlady now long dead. If you are ever in Beverley and you like pubs then make sure you visit - preferably on a cold winter's evening with the fires burning snugly in the several antique fireplaces and Victorian gas lamps hissing in the various murky rooms. It's beautiful and it is unique.
Oh and who were "we"? It was my mate Tony and the all-male entourage celebrating his fiftieth birthday. Naturally it all finished with a slap-up curry in the Akash just off Wednesday Market.