The Plastic Hippo

June 20, 2013

It`s just not cricket

Filed under: Sport,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:10 am
Image via the plastic hippo

Image via the plastic hippo

Having meticulously planned a day that would involve watching the last 20 overs of the cricket from the comfort of a pub, it is profoundly disappointing to discover that there was no cricket and, furthermore, no pub as the Park Tavern has closed down.

The Park Tavern on the Broadway, where the Arboretum meets the refined, up-market and desirable residential area known as Chuckery, never had any ideas above its station. It served average beer, average food and did what it did rather well. The staff and management were generally friendly and efficient and the provender was what you would expect for the price. It did, however, always show the cricket and coming from a household that refuses on principle to subscribe to Sky, watching the cricket was incidental to supporting the local economy by buying beer. So, after force feeding the kids some Smilies and chicken nuggets, I legged it to the pub for the conclusion of the England v South Africa semi-final and some Guinness. A hand written notice on the door informed me that the pub was closed.

Crushed, I plodded to the next nearest local pub. This establishment is not one such a delicate soul as I would dare to venture into especially after dark and at the weekend but as it was a sunny June late afternoon a quick risk assessment proved that the cricket would be worth it. The pub`s giant TV screen was showing a music video channel at deafening volume that was given over to women dressed as prostitutes emitting urban yodelling that requires 64 notes when one will do. Sheepishly, I asked if the channel could be switched to the cricket. Five simple words demolished my day: “Cricket`s finished, mate. England won.” I quickly downed my pint and went home to sulk. Checking the score card on the BBC website, it seems that England bowled out South Africa for 175 in 38 overs and England easily passed the target in 37 overs with Trott scoring an unbeaten 82. Shame, I would have liked to have seen that and the 25 overs that were never destined to be bowled.

I shall miss the Park Tavern and so will the adopted dog after an afternoon walk. Serious students of the human condition could find a treasure trove of research material by simply parking themselves outside the Park Tavern on any school day after about three o`clock in the afternoon. The entertainment provided was well worth the price of a coffee or a pint of Guinness.

After an invigorating walk with a large and rather silly dog through the Arbo, a pint of the black stuff and a half of bitter for the hound proved to be even more of a treat due to the antics of parents collecting their children from a nearby posh private school. Approaching the pub on foot across the large and very full car park, it seemed that contrary to all observations, the licensing trade in Walsall was doing rather well. The very best products of the Bavarian Motor Works, Mercedes and Range Rover sat gleaming in the sunshine and not a single parking space was available. Even the two designated disability parking spaces were occupied by a single large Shogun that contained a small yet athletic woman shouting into a mobile telephone.

Strange then, that the arrival of me and the dog increased the pub`s clientele by 100 per cent. The bar staff still outnumbered the customers. Claiming a bench outside, the dog, who is not a smoker, lapped his John Smiths from a reasonably clean ash tray and we observed the fun and games as the very personification of lottery winner chic attempted to stage a non-contact demolition derby. Finding the streets that surround the Hydesville Tower School for refined young gentlefolk already parked and double-parked with the Landaus, Surreys and Gigs of their less tardy rivals, the nouveau riche conducted a turf war to secure the nearest parking space to the school gates.

The arrival of the Hydesville luxury coach returning Britain`s Olympic hopefuls from far off playing fields added to the hilarity as it made its tentative way down a narrow residential side street towards the Broadway. Given some of the barking mad initiatives coming out of what passes for Michael Gove`s brain, the day of drive-through classrooms offering parents the freedom of not actually getting out of their cars cannot be far away. This would certainly ease the congestion caused at home time as parents are content to wait in the middle of the road until a parking space becomes available accompanied by the blaring of horns and rattling of bling as Tarquin and Jemima load `cellos, lacrosse and memory sticks into the back seat of the four by four.

Sadly, these glorious days of hilarity have now gone as without beer to drink, deliberately observing these shenanigans would simply be a bit odd. Contact with an acquaintance in the trade suggests that the Park Tavern has been bought by a developer and will never be a pub again. A younger member of the household familiar with the Devil`s work that is Facebook gives some credence to this supposition. It will be interesting to see what happens to this property given its proximity to the rather wonderful Arboretum. I would ask any readers of this blog who are able to navigate the impenetrable planning application pages on the council website to keep an eye on this one. My fear is that the borough arsonist might need to refill the trusty Zippo once Aldridge Manor is out of the way.

If you discover any applications, please, whatever you do, don`t tell me the cricket score.


  1. Park always used to heaving on sports nights when I went (mainly Rigby World Cup) and it was an easy wander from Charlotte Street. We don’t appear to have the like in Somerset. Mind you – even Wetherspoons have decided against where I live. It makes Willenhall look posh!

    Comment by Returned exile — June 20, 2013 @ 7:41 am | Reply

  2. No planning applications for the site since 2007. Those that have been (three unique on the system I can find) are all minor alterations – patio, stores extension, smoking shelter. Notable that the building is in a conservation area. I am unconvinced by the common explanation being spread around.

    Comment by BrownhillsBob — June 20, 2013 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

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