Pub visits this week 5
Locations Sheffield, Cleethorpes
I’ve been at a festival of pop music this weekend and I’m dog tired. Let’s get to the pubs, and then I can get to bed!
Magnet is a dark beer from the famous John Smith’s brewery of Yorkshire, which, if it still exists, is probably now owned by a vast global conglomerate headquartered in Chicago. “Oooh, great, they’ve got Magnet on,” has been my first thought both times I’ve visited the Florist, a pub just down the road from where I live in Walkley, Sheffield. “Hmmm, now, exactly why is it that I used to like Magnet?” has been my next thought, once I’ve tasted it.
It’s deathly quiet here tonight, the only other occupants of these capacious premises being a table of restrained senior types and the kind soul running the bar. So Dan and I move on to the Freedom House, where they ask us if we want to do the quiz. Am I getting old, or are most pub quizzes shorter and later than they used to be? Forming one of about four teams, Dan reels off answer after answer to overcome our shaky start and lift us to a completely surprising first place with 29 out of 39. Nice of him to let me have half the £10 in beer tokens really, considering how little I contributed. It’s not that I’m not clever – I’m just not pub quiz clever. No, really, honest. Please never ask me anything about golf.
It’s a midweek visit to see my lovely mum. At the end of the night we’re on Cleethorpes seafront in the Kings Royal (also known, from its half-arsed stab at conforming to the early noughties mania for faux Irishness, as Mucky Muldoon’s). We sit outside, drinking in the the sea air and the guest beer and listening to a grizzled Grimbarian limber up for the World Swearing Championship.
I don’t like to go on about it, but I’m sad not to be playing at Indietracks this year. It’s not just the only music festival I’ll ever go to: it’s pretty much the highlight of my whole year these days. But at least I get to play at the warm-up gig in Sheffield the night before. The Red House is as perfect as ever for indiepop: cosy, friendly and run by folks who care as much about putting on a fine popshow as they do about running a good pub. My band changes its name from The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut to The Sweet Nothings in mid-set, and I’m quite chuffed with how we play. A cracking popshow all round, as the other bands are all wonderful, and wonderfully diverse in their origins – The Smittens (Burlington, Vermont, USA), Springfactory (Stockholm, Sweden) and The 10p Mixes (Rotherham, England).
The 20:41 Northern Rail service to Alfreton is half an hour late. It’s half an hour that’s separating me and Marianthi from the Indietracks festival. But on the plus side, it’s half an hour we can spend in the Sheffield Tap. If only they had a departures board on the wall, like they have in the railway station outside, then you could keep track of the delay to your train and time your guzzling accordingly. And we wouldn’t have to sit at the bar tapping our phones to update the real-time web update thing and looking like a couple of eejits. Still, there’s a beer on from the Thornbridge Brewery which is made with elderflower. It’s terrifically bitter with a startling whiff of grass and summer foliage, as if you’re suddenly rolling on the ground in a forest on a balmy late August evening. Surrounded by dancing pixies.