IT'S amazing how different life can be when you have a girlfriend. Normally over a bank holiday weekend I would laze about, visit the pub, drink beer, treat myself to a Sunday lunch and then watch wall-to-wall sport. Basically I would do all those things a laddish singleton does. Obviously this all changes when someone else comes along to share your spare time.
This weekend Wren (I must think of a better name than that) popped over for a visit and we spent a very pleasant Easter Sunday. First we lazed about, then went for Sunday lunch at a wonderful carvery in Caldicot called the Tippling Philosopher. After that we headed back to the bright lights of Cardiff where we popped down to The Claude for a couple of pints then moved on to the Tut where we settled down to watch England play Australia at cricket.
On Monday I persuaded the lady that she would find no better place to spend a day on which the temperature touched 75 degrees than on the terraces of the Memorial Ground, where we watched the Gas batter Bury 2-0 and push their play-off claims. Wren says she enjoyed it, though I suspect she had an aching neck afterwards, peering skywards watching the ball sail through the air. It spent about 70 minutes as far away from the turf as it was possible to get without ending up in orbit. Never mind... the Gas are on the march.
This was followed by a visit to a couple of Bristol pubs (no smoking ban yet... luxury!) and a Meateor pizza.
Now I've been promising myself a Meateor pizza ever since Domino's unashamedly started advertising them between episodes of the Simpsons. Not very healthy, I grant you, but I don't see any problem in indulging yourself once in a while.
Apparently The Guardian recently devoted a whole page to this culinary extravaganza, and their take on it wasn't very good. Then again it wasn't made out of wholegrain and didn't include Tofu, so what would you expect? To be honest, the fact that some tree-hugging, Jesus-sandal wearing reporter didn't approve made me all the more determined to try it.
And I wasn't disappointed. It was lush, particularly the Barbecue Sauce inside which just added to the tingle on your tastebuds. I won't make a habit of it, but I will certainly be trying it again. With Garlic mushrooms. Fab.
So, all in all a completely different weekend. I was able to laze about, visit the pub, drink beer, treat myself to a Sunday lunch and then watch wall-to-wall ... hmm.
THERE has been a side effect to the pub smoking ban that is very worrying. It now appears that smoke-free pubs give parents the licence to wheel hundreds of kids through the doors and allow them to run riot while we serious drinkers are forced to mind our p's and q's, button our lips and sip our pints without being able to hear ourselves think. The trackie-clad parents, meanwhile, sit around oblivious to their offsprings antics, knocking back their bacardi breezers and pints of strong lager, partying like its 1999.
Now, there are plenty of pubs around that cater for kids anyway - like the Charlie Chalk's chain, for instance. So why a good old boozer like the Claude should change its whole raison d'etre and turn into Chav central for the lazy parent is beyond me.
One of the Claude regulars, who has probably been drinking there for the last 30 years or so, made a very pertinent point to the bar staff as he purchased his brew with a melancholy grimace on his face. "Since when did this place turn into a bloody kindergarten?" he asked quite reasonably. Silence came the stern reply.
If this carries on we dedicated drinkers will be huddled together in the beer garden, fighting against the cold, while the main bar resembles a scene from Buggsy Malone. I'm not impressed, I tell you.
THE smoking ban is proving a disaster for the Prince of Darkness. It now means that on sunny days he actually has to go through the torture of... sitting outside!
Even his family are feeling the force of his ire. In fact, his Missus had to go out and BUY him a packet of fags just to ensure he didn't create bloody carnage through the picturesque cobblestoned streets of Caerleon on Sunday. Sounds like he needs to smoke to keep his sanity, anyway. Every morning he clambers out of the coffin and traipses downstairs to find the Labradoodle has doodled all over the kitchen floor. Nightmare.
Today could be a momentous event in the history of British comedy. The day the world discovered Withers. For today is stand-up day though, judging by his pre-audition nerves in the Yard last night, we may yet to be deprived of his undeniable talent.