At around 7pm on Saturday, June 5, 2021, I crossed a border.
There was no passport check. No formalities. Certainly no celebrations to herald my arrival.
I simply slipped into a new realm like a wrinkled old hobo dozing in the carriage of a freight train trundling slowly through the night.
For this was the evening and the time when I realised that I am officially A Very Old Person.
Some will argue that I’ve displayed the signs of agedness for donkey’s years, but my Victor Meldrew grumpiness is due to temperamental ill-temper rather than decrepitude.
The cause of my realisation that the I’m old was something called a QR code, or, more accurately, two QR codes.
These monochrome patterns, which look like a chessboard that’s taken too many drugs, allow access to websites.
They’d existed since 1994, apparently, but this was the first time I’ve ever been aware of them encroaching on my life.
In this case, there were two of these devilishly clever things on the side of a plant pot on the table we sat at in the delightful garden at the Pig & Tail, a very likeable old boozer in the Jewellery Quarter.
One allowed you to order drinks.
The other allowed you to order and pay for dishes from Lisa and Pann, who have been serving up Malaysian, Singaporean and Japanese dishes from the pub’s kitchens.
Initial panic turned to confusion, but a charming member of the waiting staff, with the patience of a saint and an air of amused disbelief, explained how it worked.
We successfully ordered food, which arrived swiftly.
But drinks were more of a challenge – so much of a challenge, in fact, that the the saintly waiter emerged eventually from the bar to ask whether we planned to order anything from them.
Those who know me would realise the absurdity of the notion that I wouldn’t be drinking.
Anyway, with his help, with his help, we managed to place an order for a pint of lager and glass of red wine and, later, flying solo, repeated the order.
Initial delight at our new-found digital savviness gave way to a yearning for the good old days when one could simply ask a barman or barmaid for a pint and tell a waiter what you wanted to eat.
And there lurked the suspicion that we’d somehow blunder and order 79 pints of snakebite and 33 bottles of red wine, which, thinking about it, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing…
Anyway, we didn’t. We drank modestly and ate well.
The culinary side of things began with rice flour pancakes wrapped around tofu curd and cucumber and moistened with hoisin sauce.
This was a dish of varied textures and flavours that set the tastebuds tingling.
The sambal chicken to which I progressed was a punchy dish.
The meat was moist, the sauce rustic and bursting with chilli heat and the deep savoury notes of shrimp paste.
Rice was perfectly cooked and on top sat a fried egg with a nice brown frill and a runny yolk that provided soothing refuge from the spice.
Green beans added crunch ad vibrancy.
Opposite, teriyaki chicken served with rice, pickles and sesame was also well received.
This was hearty, no-nonsense, authentic south-east Asian food cooked with knowledge and passion.
The drinks, too, hit the mark. And those with a passion for craft beers would be pleased by the range on offer.
Prices are fair – the bill for drinks and food totalled just over £50.
Which was value enough to delight an old age pensioner such as me.
Pig & Tail
12-13 Albion Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham B1 3ED.