Pub visits this week 3
Early on Friday morning I discover there’s a Friday Lunch Club going on. Friday Lunch Club comprises a group of my friends meeting up down the pub, which can never be a bad thing. As its name suggests, this meeting tends to involve lunch and habitually takes place on Fridays. I haven’t been for ages because I’m trying to save money, so I decide to hold off.
Then I discover that it’s ten years ago to the day since Joey Ramone died, and I discover a sudden urge to be in good company with a beer in my hand. Forty-five minutes later I’m standing at the bar in the University Arms.
With very good beer, decent food, a pleasant atmosphere and an attractive interior and beer garden, the Uni Arms ticks a lot of boxes. It’s also living proof of the point made by Get to the pub.com a couple of weeks ago – that it’s working-class pubs that are dying and middle-class pubs that are thriving. Populated overwhelmingly by academics and graduate students from the University of Sheffield, it’s the most middle-class pub I know. And it’s recently been closed for a few weeks so they could convert the upstairs room and provide more space for its heaving throngs of comfortably-off drinkers to comfortably sit down.
The anniversary of Joey’s passing is one of several mileposts on the journey through each year which fall in April. The plum tree in the back garden bursts into blossom, the cat leaves chunks of chewed-out fur all over the carpet, the snooker’s on in Sheffield, and there are loads of birthdays. Also, there’s the First Beer Garden Day of the Year.
So on Saturday night I’m at the Blake Hotel with my girlfriend and a healthy collection of our friends, celebrating birthdays, drinking a little, laughing a lot, and enjoying a superlative local pub. And just a few hours earlier, after a band practice in the afternoon, then, I’ve been out the back of the Rutland Arms (pictured above). There’s the slightest spot of rain in the air, and my bhaji butty has flown off the table. But my pint is marvellous. I’m with some of my favourite people. The bhaji butty landed in my lap and not on the ground, so I can still eat it. And it’s the First Beer Garden Day of the Year. So on balance I feel very happy indeed.