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from M & S. That's what I'm drinking now. Thwaites Mild. In Amsterdam. How great is that? It even counts as Real Ale.

The kids were most excited about the bacon, crumpets and crisps when Marks opened a shop here last year. And mini pork pies. For Dolores it was the tea and bagels.

The tea excited me too. I'm a loose tea man all the way. Tea bags? The work of the devil, just like keg beer. And I did get withdrawal symptoms after we'd found Marks ausgecrumpetet* last weekend. Cheese on toast just doesn't do it for me, breakfast-wise. Once you get a taste for crumpet, you never lose it.

In pursuit of crumpet, I'm ashamed to say that it was only a few visits in that I noticed their beer selection. Yorkshire Bitter and London Porter didn't come as any surprise. But smack me in the gob if they didn't have Mild.

I won't go into my strange love affair with Mild. It's just a form of indie obscurantism that got out of hand. What would I do if Mild became hugely popular again? Switch my affection to fading star IPA? Write three sentences in a row ending in a question mark? Who knows?

When there was no Mild on the shelves of M & S one Saturday, a chiv of guilt jabbed between my ribs. Had they stopped stocking it because it didn't sell?

I feel it's my duty to buy six bottles every Saturday. You get one free when you buy six. And, even if Mild fans are as thin on the ground catwalk models in a potato field, should be enough to keep it on the shelves.

It's not cask Tetley's (for which I would happily sacrifice not only my children, but the whole of my immediate family). But It's Mild. Decent Mild.

My mate Harry defined the perfect city as having three things: trams, professional Rugby League and Dark Mild. No city could manage more than two, after Blackpool's rugby team folded. Prague and Munich were too of the city's that came the closest.

Should they adopt the 13-man code here, I'd be in heaven.

*Dolores: Two out of three times you go down the M&S in Amsterdam, there are no crumpets left on the shelves to buy. Upon enquiry of the staff, they are sold-out, again. The staff assures you that they hope they get another consigment containing crumpets in soon.

I am not the only customer who asks, apparantly. The staff becomes more laconic about crumpet supplies over time, I noticed.