Friday, 21 September 2012
There are so many opposing factors, variables and considerations which combine to make the happy event of wishing a colleague well, a potentially disastrous exercise.
Some people want to go for food, while others want to stop in for a quick drink and dash off.
There are those who crave chrome bars and over-priced lager while sensible folk prefer good pubs and real ale.
Then you have got to keep an eye out for the pint-pinchers who only go in pubs when obliged for wakes and leaving dos.
Once a few dusty moths have escaped from their wallet they will either sulk in a corner and moan or get outrageously drunk, make a pass at their boss and vomit over the rest of the group.
Last weekend I was in Preston for two consecutive leaving-do nights out and more than a little apprehensive at least one of them would go to form.
On Friday Michelle from LEP Towers was out to celebrate her return back to the wrong side of the Pennines with a good few pints of real ale.
Her department contained a slightly older crowd who have been swilling ale in Preston's best pubs for a generation or two, so I felt confident I was on safe ground.
I caught up with them at the Black Horse in Friargate at around 8.15pm where they were quietly making their way through the eight ales on offer.
I joined them in their discerning pursuit to find their preferred ale and before I knew it, everyone else had gone, the pub was shut and we were being heaved out the door.
After spending the following day with lead weights dragging on my head I was back in the Black Horse to celebrate Miss Chardonnay Sidekick's three-month sabbatical to India where she will be building wells, toilets and cask pumps (the latter was the suggested usage for my donation).
With a larger, younger crowd I expected us to be away from the pub and off into the bright lights of the city quickly. But a poorly coordinated multiple rounds system meant we were all going to the bar at different times and the night once again slipped away.
By 11.30pm I was determined my entire weekend should not be spent in just one pub and lead the stumbling rabble over to the Wellington in Glover's Court, for yet more real ale and the house's finest cocktails for Miss Chardonnay Sidekick (Bombay Smash).
Buoyed by our adventurous voyage across the city we resolved the Warehouse should be the final destination for a night of good music and awful dancing.
But when we got outside I heard the screech of taxi tyres and realised the group had thinned to just three.
So, into the trusty Old Dog it was for one last ale to make sure the lead weights would be fixed to my head the following morning.
Having spent an entire weekend observing the intricacies and pitfalls of a leaving-do night out I am now planning my own for two weeks today.
Having been lured by the promise of a world of wonderful pubs, my liver and I are moving up to the Lake District, so this will be my last real ale ramble.
Thanks for reading.