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Pub is too cool for school; EATING OUT FIGHTING COCKS, Moseley.

Byline: LORNE JACKSON

IT was gala day at Ben's school, and the wee fellow was understandably excited.

"There's going to be donkey rides!" he screamed.

"Why's he so excited about seeing a live donkey?" I asked the missus.

"They're not the most exciting animals on the planet. A tad more charismatic than a sloth, and slightly less entertaining than a stuffed parrot."

"It's because of the donkey in Shrek," Riki guessed. "He thinks they all speak with Eddie Murphy's voice." "Surely he realises Shrek's a work of fiction, and all those characters are made up?" Riki gave me a curious look. "Really?" she said. "Then how come he sees the double of Shrek sitting opposite him at breakfast every morning?" I've no idea what she meant, but I didn't have time to think about it because we were on our way to Moseley for the gala.

Ben was delighted with the donkeys, even though none of them had time to stop for a chat.

Punters While he was riding Shrek's sidekick, I went for a stroll. I spotted two bouncy castles, though for some reason I wasn't allowed on either of them. I bet King Arthur never had that kind of trouble when he galloped into Camelot.

Next, I stopped for a chat with Tom, one of the other fathers. He was fronting a stall where punters could win a Hawaiian guitar.

All they had to do was guess the weight of a bowl of fruit next to the guitar. So far nobody had bought a ticket.

"Maybe you should ask people to guess the weight of the guitar, so they can win the fruit," I suggested.

He wasn't amused. I moved on. At the other end of the field a tug of war had begun.

It was meant to be a competition between two groups of kids. But as one side started losing, adults piled in to help.

Then adults joined the other side, and battle truly commenced.

I suppose there's a moral to the story. If at first you don't succeed, cheat. It's the grown-up way.

After the war of the rope, I was ready for another sort of scrap. That's how we ended up in the Fighting Cocks for lunch.

A well-known Moseley pub, the FC has changed a lot recently. Previously it was the sort of place you could catch a genuine fight - and not just between pugnacious poultry.

And scruffy? It was as dishevelled as an Old English Sheepdog that's been strapped to a surfboard, then tossed into the Newquay surf.

Nowadays everything's rather elegant, in a shabby chic sort of way. Buffed up, then blended with a pinch of Moseley bohemianism.

On the Sunday afternoon we popped in, there was even a DJ playing chillout tunes.

The vibe was definitely one of too-coolfor-school, though the bar staff (and DJ) were all very friendly.

Except for one grumpy gal. Super chilly and stand-offish, she could easily have been a member of the Royal Family.

She certainly acted as though she was. When we requested a small change be made to one of the meals, she said it couldn't be done.

So we asked a barman, and he said there was no problem.

But what about the food? Riki and I had a Sunday lunch each. (Chicken for Riki, beef for me.) Helpings were huge, which meant Ben could share with us.

The standard was decent, though not brilliant. My veg was rather hard, while the skin on Riki's chicken was far too slithery.

For pudding, I had a selection from the cheeseboard, which was excellent. However, Riki's sticky toffee pudding was more of an icky toffee pudding. She left most of it on her plate.

Which meant she was rather hungry when we left.

"Don't worry," I said. "We'll go back to the gala and you can eat Tom's fruit. Then, if you're still hungry, why not munch on his guitar. It's Hawaiian, y'know - delicious!" LORNE JACKSON Total (including tip): pounds 45. The Fight-ing Cocks, 1 St Marys Row, Birmingham (Tel: 0121 449 0811)

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SUNDAY GRUB: The Fighting Cocks in Birmingham
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 26, 2011
Words:688
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