Pub visits this week 4
Locations Grimsby, Doncaster, Sheffield
Mention an excellent boozer to someone with no soul and the chances are they’ll deride it as “an old men’s pub”. By this, of course, they mean you can get something good to drink, there’ll probably be room to sit down, there isn’t so much noise that you can’t talk to the people you’re with, and it has some agreeable distinguishing features about it instead of looking and feeling exactly like hundreds of other pubs or ‘bars’ all over the country. Personally I don’t see the problem with any of that. If that makes me an old man, then most of my friends and I have been old men since we were about 18. Including the women.
I’ve been to the football twice this week, which means two visits to the Rutland Arms (featured here; pictured above) in Grimsby, one on Tuesday night and the other on Saturday afternoon. The Rutland isn’t an outstanding pub but it’s the best option for a drink before the game. Like many other pubs at the moment, the Rutland seems to be passing from one manager to another more often than is healthy. On Tuesday, for our third consecutive visit here, we’ve never previously set eyes on the person running the bar. And on Saturday, for our fourth consecutive visit here, we’ve never previously set eyes on the person running the bar.
This is worrying in many ways. If the Rutland were to shut down, I don’t know where I’d have a pre-match pint – and the prospect of watching Grimsby Town Football Club without having taken liquor, of course, doesn’t bear thinking about. On the positive side, however, at least there’s one local institution getting through more managers than Grimsby Town Football Club.
On the Tuesday night my bizarrely circuitous route home from the match takes in a brief stop at the Glasshouse in Kirk Sandall on the outskirts of Doncaster, a vast suburban auditorium of a pub. Here, for the second time in recent years, someone tells me I look like Robert Carlyle. It’s clearly been quite a tough few years since people used to say I looked like Brett Anderson.
Well, the Hallamshire Hotel (featured here; pictured above) is certainly an old men’s pub. But it’s also a young men’s pub. And an old and young women’s pub. And a pub for middle-aged people of both genders. And that’s why it’s a great place to go if you are any kind of human being at all. Except one without a soul.
The Hallamshire is my highlight of this low-key week in pubs. At half past ten or so on Saturday night, my girlfriend – who is often so fatigued that she has nodded off on licensed premises on more than a few occasions – is sleepy and wants to go home. But as a kind concession, and to make the most of having a babysitter, she tells me to have another half. Then she decides she’ll have another glass of wine. And if she’s having another glass of wine, well, then, that half of mine might as well be a pint. The upshot of it all is that we end up here way past bedtime, savouring a rare night out together, necking glasses of wine and Copper Dragon best bitter, rubbing our bellies from the big curry we had just before we came in, chatting to each other in the easy way that can be so hard at home amid the trappings of toddlerdom, and just enjoying being around a good range of other people in a beautiful community pub.