My journey from the front door to the bar took longer than expected because the authentically sticky patterned carpet really slowed me down. Behind the bar, landlord Dick Curmudgeon was chatting to a couple of customers. Five minutes later he was still chatting – conversation is obviously important here! - so I ventured an “Excuse me”. I took the ensuing grunt as an invitation to place my order – none if that “customer care” nonsense in this establishment. I'd had plenty of time to survey the real ale offerings – Ind Coope Bitter and Bass Brew XI, evidently lovingly recreated from the original recipes. “A pint of Ind Coope, please” I said, for the first time in many a year. The glass was warm and the measure short but, hey, the beer looked good. Sadly it tasted of vinegar. “Sorry, landlord” I quavered “I think this is off”. “Everyone else is drinking it” barked Dick, though he and his companions seemed to be on the lager. Seeing I wasn't satisfied, he grabbed my glass, took a swig and pronounced “It's supposed to taste like that”. I clearly wasn't going to get anywhere so ordered a pint of Brew XI. This was in perfect nick. The brewer had skilfully extracted all hints of flavour to faithfully recreate that Big Brewer session beer experience.
Although the pub couldn't circumvent the smoking ban, a machine was pumping out acrid fumes to remind us of days of yore and I stumbled through the fug to a torn leatherette bench. I took time to admire the décor which was in the classic Olde Englishe Tavern style – fibre-glass beams, horse brasses galore, electric fake-log fire etc. Then, feeling peckish, I looked for the menu. Finding none, I returned to the bar where Dick greeted me with a cheery “What now?”. My question “Are you doing any food?” was answered with “Crisps or peanuts” and my further enquiring into the possibility of a sandwich didn't please mine host at all. “You're a right troublemaker, aren't you? Go on, drink up and get out – you're barred”.
As I made my way to the pub across the road, with its wide choice of locally brewed ales and wholesome locally-sourced food, I couldn't help but reflect on all the things we've lost since the good old days.