In 20 years time people will no doubt look back on the horror of the last week, aghast that the so-called “Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts” was headlined by a procession of OAP cover bands. And Coldplay (sorry, should have warned you at the top that was coming).
A very similar musical fayre is available closer to home this summer. Those wishing to binge on nostalgia can enjoy such topical classics as “I predict a riot“, “Mad World” and “Who’s David” at this year’s Newmarket Nights. Prosecco from Adnam’s Wine. I’ll be in the pub.
Newmarket is a good place to walk off a cold, with just enough hilly stretches (by eastern standards) and plenty of open spaces.
There’s surprisingly little to see though, and it’s a tough comparison with nearby Bury. While the home of Greene King has seen a boom in housing, facilities, and independents, Newmarket retains an early ’80s feel that only lifts when surprisingly good Christmas decorations are put up in early October.
It doesn’t help that the town is basically one long High Street scarred by traffic. Tellingly, the most photogenic building is a bank;
though that may also be true of Cambridge.
The pubs are plain, and not just because they’re nearly all Greene King houses. A look at What Pub suggests all the pubs are in a string along that High Street, but I saw at least one (amazingly basic) keg pub not lovingly logged on the web. Newmarket is better known locally for its nightclubs than its destination pubs, which are dotted around in the racehorse-owner filled villages.
The most characterful looking one on the edge of town looked like a great place to see England’s march to glory tonight.
There is also and attractive strip of Georgian buildings, raised from the High Street, just above Tattersals.
As so often, the most interesting pub is the Wetherspoons, also the only Beer Guide entry for several years now.
It was quiet at 3pm, with only the usual seasoned drinkers and hardly any takers for Mexican Monday. This really is the Golden Hour, post OAP lunches and before Toddler Teas. Few folk were drinking the real ales, even at low prices, but my Adnams Juniper Saison was still excellent (NBSS 4), though I wouldn’t have known it was a Saison. Proper head too; I had a second.
This Spoons has TV permanently set to racing from Fontwell, or wherever horses race these days, and the business seems to come from jockeys drinking Guinness and Bud.
Today I had the immense pleasure of loud political discourse on the next table, and I feel it important to log the key points for posterity;
“Taking our country back”
“No Maggie Thatchers are they”
“Finger in every pie”
“Shot across the bows”
“He’s not a good orientator – he can’t talk, and he don’t shave”
“England’ll do them, they’re only a Supermarket team” (may have misheard that one)
Wetherspoons really have done more to encourage political debate than any other pub chain, but I’ll be glad when it’s all ended. Probably 2026.