Walking down the mean streets of Stafford, on Thursday two weeks back, I wondered how many of the seven GBG entries I could get greened off before last orders bells pealed across the town, or is it a city, who knows these days?
Quick word on my Travelodge I'd just checked in to. Very Fawlty Towers. Not one light outside, well I think the second 'e' may have been flickering. I step over a crying old woman on a zimmer, a wheezing old bloke rises up from behind the reception desk like a lumbering whale. "Name?" "Everitt" "Not Kenny is it? HAHAHAHA" Oh, we have a joker. "FOUR nights? In Stafford? What possessed you?" "Pubs" I reply. Now he perks up. After explaining the lift is broken, and my key card probably won't work, he recommends me the Sun Inn (in my GBG) and the two Wetherspoons. He looks like a 'Spoons kinda chap. I thank him, but I know time is of the essence, so I run away into the cool night.
I've drawn myself a little map in the hope it'll help:
I head for the furthest north pub first, considered 'out of town' as you have to cross one the million crazy roundabouts. Rarely have I been to a more pedestrian unfriendly town than Stafford, messy.
Here it was in the evening gloom .......
I love a bare, basic, no frills pub as much as the next #Pubman, the Greyhound, Stafford (1963 / 3392) was so much this, I found myself feeling it was 'lacking' something. Atmosphere? I just found it impossible to fall in love with but recognise it as a good solid boozer. Two bored lads in the front bar were watching some unspecified European football match, and with no staff in sight, I make my way down the warren of back corridors to the back bar, where I find a barmaid telling a friendly hairy dude (FHD) about her new boyfriend in slightly embarrassed tones, a short arse electrician I think she said. The ales were all South Yorkshire, like the remnants of an SY themed festival, Acorn and Bradfield available so I went Farmers Blonde which was fine, but not Bluebell York quality. A big group of 'ladz' came in from an outdoor smoking sesh, and started talking about drinking 16 pints in Malaga and not feeling a thing. I think they meant they stayed sober. Their laddish one upmanship made everyone feel uncomfy, and you could sense the relief in the room when they left, "if you're gonna finger me Ben, do it properly" being the last thing I heard from them. Colin was cowering. This whole episode must've made the barmaid morbid. "I'm sure that cellar is haunted" she comments to FHD, adding "you could dump a dead body down there and no one would know". Two massive bald blokes with shiny heads then point at each other and bellow "JUDAS!" It seemed to be done in good humour, so I laughed along, taking my lead from FHD and barmaid. Of course I got lost retracing my steps to the front door, so pretended I was looking for someone in a different room! Think I got away with it (I didn't).
Back into the pedestrianised part of town, and you can tell Thursday is the new Friday cos everyone is falling out of McDonald's screeching and hysterical like, all shits and giggles, which happened to me last time I had a McFlurry too. Again, I join in a bit, wanting to look like a Stafford local.
Before we got to that though, we come to this nifty little place on the left hand side ......
The strange shape and extreme ceiling height makes Slater's Bar (1964 / 3393) feel a lot more like a clothes shop than a boozer, but at least affords it a bit of unexpected character. Not sure you'd class it a 'micropub', but the atmosphere is exactly what such an establishment dreams of. That is, strangers communicating passionately on a range of inconsequential subjects (which is polite BRAPA speak for talking bollocks). Pretty much all of them turn to say hello as I approach the bar, I appreciate such stuff, and barmaid of fabulous blue hair serves me the obscure 'Amarillo' ale without a proper pump clip. When me and my mate visited Shrewsbury in 2005, we voted Slater's Top Totty our ale of the week. We've never forgotten it. But in 2021, no surprise it doesn't exist anymore, and probably not the time or place to lament its passing! Assume it has a new name, I wonder which it was. The chat is music based, and although I approve of main shiny bloke's (the blokes are very shiny in Stafford) critique of the Beatles, I react less kindly to his Sex Pistols slagging. "But we wouldn't have My Chemical Romance without them" he muses. It's gone very quiet, I fear he's lost the room. An old dude with a skateboard, head scarf and fingerless gloves is rocking backwards and forwards, silently at the back of the room. A new group arrive. One man explains it is his anniversary today. "My wife has sent me here for my anniversary present .... on my own!" I'd be worried if I was him. A previously popular bald visitor (also shiny) has a sneezing fit and with each sneeze, you could see people getting more and more peed off. Pubs, you do see life don't you?
|Now you see it|
|Now you don't. Great lacings, beer of the night.|
Carrying on our little trail through town, around a couple of corners, and pub three was in sight, just away from the main drag.
|Col's nemesis, Donatello, tries to psyche him out (ignore the dragon, it isn't real)|
So there we have it, not very likely my remaining three Stafford ticks stayed open til midnight, so I cut my losses and called it a night.
Big day tomorrow, getting out to more rural climes, quite surprised so far I'd not seen Bass in one pub, but maybe not when you consider the pubs I'd been to! Am sure it'll be rectified tomorrow.
Join me on Wednesday where I tell you about my six pub Friday.
Take care, Si