Pub visits this week: 7
One of the first pubs I went to this week was a genuine Irish pub. It made me think back ten years or so, to the time when Ireland was globally fashionable and every time you turned round another pub had been made over with fake Dublin street signs and renamed Scruffy Paddy O’Lafferty McGarrigle’s. Have these pubs returned to their former identities, just as those swallowed up by the Firkin chain in the 1990s abruptly resumed their past lives? Answers on a comment at the bottom of the screen, please.
The Grapes, Trippet Lane, Sheffield; Dog and Partridge, Trippet Lane, Sheffield. Cara and I are the only people in the front room at the Grapes and the only sound to be heard is the dull thump-thump of the live acoustic night in the room above us, with muted applause between songs. It’s too quiet and gloomy so we head next door to the Dog and Partridge, an actual genuine Irish pub with real Irish people and a back room lined with newspaper clippings and pictures all about JF Kennedy. I make a mental note to go on Wikipedia and research the connection between Kennedy and Ireland, because I have to admit I have no idea at all. There are more people here and the music comes from an Irish folk band, so it’s a little livelier than the Grapes. But we decide to leave before a riot erupts when a TV news item begins about a plan to arrest the Pope.
Rutland Arms, Rutland Street, Grimsby, Lincs (featured here). Five and a half thousand people go to the football tonight. About eight of them go to the Rutland tonight beforehand. It’s nearly always a downbeat place to come before a night match, and all the more so when the local team is on its knees and four Grimsby men are sitting opposite the bar moaning about ‘Pakis’.
University Arms, Brook Hill, Sheffield. It’s Friday Lunch Club, people. Eight or nine of us border a large, circular table, loading up on quiche, cannelloni, tuna melts and stew and chips in an enormous Yorkshire pudding. As pleasant as the University Arms is, when the rest of the drinkers here all seem to be university people, I do tend to feel like an interloper. It’s all I can do to contain my surprise when I get served at the bar without having to demonstrate an impressive recent bibliography of papers published in all the leading academic journals of north America.
The Stock Room, Leadmill Road, Sheffield. It’s a great popshow and tonight the Moonshine being served straight from the cask is actually not bad.
University of Sheffield Students’ Union, Sheffield. Speaking of being an interloper… here I am at the legendary indiepop night Offbeat, the reason I started visiting this city ten years ago. And now I’m nearly twice the age of some of the kids here ‒ but indiepop is a broad church, so I only feel out of place when I have to go back out of the Raynor Lounge into Bar One. And am reminded that in 2010 you can’t tell most students apart from Blind Date contestants. What? Blind Date isn’t on any more? Where’s me slippers. I remember when all this used to be cassettes.
Rutland Arms, Rutland Street, Grimsby, Lincs (featured here). The last rites are being read for my club’s Football League status. It’s a status we’re in terminal danger of losing for the first time in exactly 100 years. Our rivals in the scramble to avoid relegation, albeit with a far better chance than us, Torquay have brought more supporters than usual on this long, long journey. Perhaps guided to a quieter pub by scary stories in their local paper, some have found their way to the Rutland. It’s all perfectly civil, and in the toilet a Torquay and a Grimsby fan are chatting pleasantly about our respective chances of avoiding the drop into non-League football. The sun is shining warmly outside. What a beautiful day this is. Naturally, we play appallingly and lose 3-0.