Pub visits this week 4
Locations Sheffield, Grimsby
A couple we’ve recently made friends with have just moved to Sheffield. They like pubs. Pretty good choice, then. And they’ve got themselves a place in Crookes. I think that’ll be a night at the Princess Royal then.
So on Wednesday a little group of us get to the pub with Dan and Hannah (who put my band on at the Castle Hotel in Manchester the other week, just before they moved). There’s something uniquely stimulating about talking with people you’re definitely friends with but don’t yet know a lot about. And the Princess Royal is as fine a place as anywhere to do just that. If you’ve never tried Seven Hills from the Sheffield Brewery Co, by the way, then don’t. Not that you won’t like it. You will. You’ll drink it all. And then there won’t be any left for me.
Friday night is an overlapping pub night. At five o’clock I go to the University Arms (pictured above) with Heidi from work. Heidi is off the booze, and spends an hour there drinking water and waiting for me to finish talking about pop music. For reasons we will probably never know, rather than taking the obvious and entirely sensible option of running away home very quickly, she accompanies me to the Bath Hotel.
There I persuade Heidi that, when she’s back on the booze, the first thing she should do is neck a pint of Thorne Pale Ale. We sit by a large window, letting dusk draw in behind us. Presently, by the magic of Twitter, my friends Markie and Richard turn up, so that when Heidi leaves a little later, one night out at the pub has overlapped with another.
I like it when this happens. It plants concepts in my mind that make me smile: concepts like serendipity and happenstance. It makes me feel like a gymnast swinging from one of those ropes with the little loops at the end, to the next one. It suggests, on quite a fundamental level, that life is worthwhile. And it gets me pleasantly squiffy because I stay out for a couple of hours longer.
On Saturday it’s the start of the football season for my club, Grimsby Town. I’ll watch them play, and before I do I’ll have a drink in the Rutland Arms (featured here) too, just along the road from the ground. But hey, it’s not all bad.
Despite promising their supporters a fresh start for the 18 gazillionth time in recent seasons, Grimsby record an inevitable 2-0 defeat. The Rutland Arms, which seems to have a completely new set of people working the bar every time we visit, has a completely new set of people working the bar. Usually we come here rather than, say, the Imperial just along the road so that we can at least hear each other speak. Today’s completely new set of people working the bar, however, have cranked up the volume on the jukebox way beyond any kind of reasonable level for a Saturday lunchtime. It’d be pushing it on a Saturday night.
For all that, though, the place is brought to life by the appearance of a couple of dozen visiting supporters. Tucked away somewhere to the rear of nowhere, the Rutland Arms is unknown to most of the population of Grimsby, let alone the people of Fleetwood, crossing from west coast to east. Yet here they are, packing it right out. And cheering it right up.
If you’ve got the nine-year-old-boy mentality of one of those hooligan types, you might upset yourself over the other lot ‘taking over’ your place. If you’ve got any appreciation of pubs, though – or basically any sense at all – then your heart will leap a little to see more than a little life, albeit just for an hour or two, breathed into a moribund pub.