Pleased as I was to be given my Tender Step Test certificate aboard Saga’s lovely ship Spirit of Discovery earlier this month, my recognition as a Wetherspoon ‘regular’ back on dry land a few days later was a source of even greater pride.

The Saga certificate, which I feel I really must frame, testified to the fact that I had successfully placed one foot in front of the other to the extent of 40 centimetres, thereby demonstrating that I was able to move safely from ship to bobbing tender to reach shore at St Malo.

Pity the poor souls who failed, given that this was so unnecessarily a public challenge.

So, for some people I suppose, is walking into a branch of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, though not for me who have been doing it surreptitiously for many years.

Or perhaps not so surreptitiously, as I discovered on arrival at Witney’s Company of Weavers a couple of weeks ago for a particular pensioners’ pleasure, Friday fish and chips, which costs, with a drink, less that £8.

The place was full, as it often is for this finny feast. But one obliging gent, alone at a prime table close to the bar, rose to surrender it to us.

“I’m only finishing my coffee,” he said, “and I know you’re regulars.”

I greatly approve of the notion – as I mentioned to Rosemarie – that a regular is able to pull rank in the matter of seating over a mere passing stranger. Wider application of the principle would mean my never having to stand again across a wide swathe of local hostelries.

Speaking of pulling rank, I was doing that a couple of weeks ago over a restaurant booking, as I mentioned in a text message to a friend who was joining me. But spell-check had adjusted the message to say I was “pulling Frank”, which puzzled and amused my pal.

Licensed premises favoured by my presence include, beside The Company of Weavers, most of the county’s other branches of JD Wetherspoon, which is currently celebrating 40 years in the business.

These include, in Oxford, the Swan and Castle and The Four Candles, whose name references a famous sketch (“Fork Handles?”) by the Two Ronnies. Ronnie Barker was educated at the City of Oxford High School for Boys, further along George Street. Wetherspoon likes to celebrate such connections in its names.

Bicester’s Penny Black, for instance, reflects the fact that the premises were once a post office. So, too, was The Narrows, in Abingdon, though the name derives from the local nickname for the stretch of High Street on which it stands.

On visits to various theatres across the region, I have made regular use of of the chain’s pubs in Stratford-upon-Avon, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, Cheltenham, Northampton and Newbury.

In London, we often kill time waiting for the train home from Marylebone at the huge Metropolitan at Baker Street tube station, where the prime minister Boris Johnson is seen above with Wetherspoon founder (and fellow Brexiteer) Tim Martin.

A couple of times we have found ourselves surrounded there by hundreds of Tottenham Hotspur fans. (The club’s home game were played until recently a few stops up the Metropolitan line at Wembley Stadium.)

Intimidating as some of them looked, they could be surprisingly courteous. Here again, one chap surrendered his table to us, remarking: “You wouldn’t get this from an Arsenal fan.”

So all told, then, I can consider myself something of an expert on the Spoons’ offering. This might be summarised as bargain-price drinks in wide, well-chosen variety, and food of a standard to suit all but the fussiest. It’s hardly gourmet stuff, I know, but far ahead of what’s purveyed by some chain ‘restaurants’.

The company has always been popular with the Campaign for Real Ale for the extensive assortment of such beers that it offers. New members are given £20 in Wetherspoon vouchers, which is a very useful gift.

Camra’s support for Spoons used to surprise me slightly, given the organisation’s commitment to pub preservation. The company has widely been seen as a predatory trader, driving other pubs – with less opportunity for economies of scale – out of business.

But why let principles stand in the way of cheap beer?

Wetherspoon’s 40th is marked with some special editorial in the latest edition of The Oxford Drinker, produced by Camra’s Oxford and White Horse branches – along with lots about the organisations’s Beer and Cider festival, taking place at Oxford Town Hall from today till Saturday.

I enjoyed Oxford chairman Pete Flynn’s spirited assault on Spoons’ critics. He writes: “The only people who don’t love Wetherspoon are the online review-reading, Michelin star- munching, craft beer-seeking, Instagram-denying middle- class bores – the ones as anxious about what their meal says about them, as [about] how it tastes and how much it costs.”

Hear! hear! say I.