What I need is a good local pub – nothing fancy, a proper boozer if you will. The beer has to be good, the food adequate, the décor tolerable, and a complete absence of music – both PA and jukeboxes, and no gaming machines. It doesn’t matter much to me whether there are many other customers or not.
I’m not looking for lock-ins or any other special privileges – just a friendly landlord or lady who will have my beer flowing into a long glass – never a mug or tankard (unclean, unclean) – the second I walk through the door.
Then I have the choice in engaging in small talk with said owner or else retiring to a comfortable corner to read my newspaper. In summer there should be the opportunity to take my drink into the pub’s well cared for garden with sufficient room not to be bothered by smokers. After the pint, I could then be on my way refreshed and content. Over the years I have known pubs with elements of my dream hostelry but never one where all the elements have come together.
Perhaps the Kelham Island Tavern in Sheffield would suit me. This week the Campaign for Real Ale crowned it National Pub of the Year for 2009 for the second consecutive year. CAMRA’s competition “analyses all the criteria that make a good pub including the quality of the beer, atmosphere, décor, customer service, and all-round value of the pub visit.” Locals should count themselves lucky to have such a gem on their doorstep.
There is nothing sadder than seeing a local pub knocked down to make way for a residential development. The new homeowners don’t realise that they have participated in the destruction of the very thing that gave character to the area they wanted to live in.
There are plenty of pubs close by where I'm happy to toast family and friends but none that would give this restless Englishman an insight in what it means to find infinite peace.