There’s been a lot of chatter on the blogs (aren’t we bloggers awfully self-referential, it’s dreadful, ain’t it?) about whether the pub is dead, whether it’s dying or whether it’s just got a bit of a sniffle and needs a dose of Calpol. It may shock you to read that I’m not going to answer that question (there is loads of debate on the topic though – try Pencil & Spoon, Real Ale Reviews or The Pub Curmudgeon for just a handful of examples). Nope, what I’m going to do is say the following.
I like going to the pub, it’s just about my favourite place to socialise, some of the best moments I’ve shared with my best friends have probably been at The Kings Arms in Heath, our local growing up. I also used to love meeting my granddad for a pre-Sunday dinner pint at one of his locals, I’ve recently spent some very pleasant time with my dad in The Cross Keys in Holbeck and when I meet my girlfriend in town we invariably meet at North Bar or The Reliance (that’s a stalkers’ guide to following me around, there).
So while a lot of my writing about tasty beers I’ve drunk involves beer I’ve drunk at home, that’s not because I prefer drinking at home to drinking at the pub, it’s just because I go to the pub to socialise and if you’re really focussing on the beer, then you’re not socialising, are you?
Anyway, I just wanted to briefly write in praise of my old local, The Kings Arms in Heath. It’s where me and my closest friends always go drinking, it’s where our mums and dads sometimes join us (and it’s all the better when they do).
Is it a great pub? Well, not really. It’s properly historic, and set on gorgeous heath land, and often boasts a roaring fire. It also stocks a few real ales that are normally nice, if not thrilling. Yet it is, with a doubt one of my favourite ever pubs. It’s a place to catch up with friends, to escape the realities of the real world of jobs and bills and regress with people who have known me for two decades, whose humour may often be risque, but always has me in stitches.
The best nights to meet up are Tuesdays. Yes, it’s a school night, but it’s also quiz night. While the cheap nasty free sarnies of old may be gone, and the questions are often, well, a bit shit, it does just what you want. It adds a competitive element to the night, a slight edge, an excitement served up with your pint of Landlord, an inspiration for jokes and anecdotes. Yes, it means a cloudy head on a Wednesday morning, but it’s worth it.
So, is the pub dead? I don’t know, but surely there will always be a demand for places that encourage socialising, encourage reunions of friends and serve it up in a homely, comfortable setting? And if there’s not, then there must be something very wrong in this country. I’ll blame Cameron.