- The Calendar Presentation -
Our Monday medley of festive formalities begins in Wolverhampton city centre where the Chairman pays out a cob penalty due to his late arrival at the Lych Gate Tavern. The upstairs function room has streamers and stout to make members feel very much at home, although the calendar handover is saved until we proceed to the Royal London for Hobgoblin amid the pool tables. Mr D9 can then eagerly peruse the year's pictorial highlights including appearances from Mickey Mouse, Barney the purple dinosaur and the Coventry quiff.
- Wrapped up well for some D9 driving -
With that opening brace of boozers under our belts we catch the 59 towards Ashmore Park, the Chairman being appropriately dressed for his latest driving duty - perhaps a wrapping paper 'skirt' will become 2017's must-have fashion accessory? The top deck of the bus soon resounds to the tune of Nat King Cole's jolly ditty 'The Happiest Christmas Tree' so we alight on Griffiths Drive to avoid torturing our fellow passengers any more than is absolutely necessary.
- Missing the Minerva -
DJ D9 Hub-burn's top twenty countdown is underway as we wander into Staffordshire, a path from Kitchen Lane connecting the edges of the Ashmore Park estate with the South Staffs mining village of Essington. Sadly the Minerva isn't open as yet so we console ourselves with views of the scenic pools off Brownshore Lane. Larchmere Drive cul-de-sacs are subjected to songs about onions, sparrows and trout before the Old Mitre (on Bursnips Road beside the M6) mirrors the Minerva in thwarting our thirst.
- Tuning in for Jeremy Kyle -
That Essington ferret had still proven fruitful with reminders of former mineral railways, but for further refreshment we needed to return to West Midlands territory and the environs of New Invention. The Milestone is a modern Marston's corporate pub serving the residents of Coppice Farm and Allens Rough; our Banks's Bitter is traditional enough albeit daisy lawn table tops and Jeremy Kyle television booths are less so. A few legs of closely-fought darts then precede the conclusion of the silly songs chart as our 2016 number one is revealed: in the year of Brexit there is really only one candidate for top spot as Bruce Forsyth takes the crown with 'I'm Backing Britain'. Hurrah!
- Duke of Cambridge -
To Short Heath next, dodging along dusky alleyways from New Invention Square to Coltham Road. The homely Duke of Cambridge pub deserves an extended moment in the hub spotlight, a Black Country Ales establishment with a three room layout (separate bar, lounge and games rooms) plus plenty of yuletide atmosphere. It is here that Charles Pemberton Rowbottom III makes his arrival, admiring a cottage teapot collection while announcing our award winners and dozing off at regular intervals. Among the accolades this year are the Kings Oak in Kings Norton (Sleeve of the Year), Stapenhill Cemetery (Closet of the Year) and the Hearty Carty Karaoke (Random Event of the Year).
- A Seasonal Secretary Shot -
Secretary WME had already retained his Pub Games Champion title but rubber stamps this by completing a Duke darting victory by 8 legs to 6 (a double 17 checkout at the end sealing the deal). Members then have two more calling points to contend with on the way home - the Avery Unionist Club offers Mansfield Smooth and the Merseyside derby before the final honour goes to the Manhattan in Heath Town, a place the Chairman has long had his heart set on visiting. With that we're all done for the year, see you again in 2017.
Merry Christmas from the Hub Marketing Board!