I’m meeting Simon in Belper on Saturday (#PrayForRetiredMartin), and no doubt we will reflect on recent pubbing experiences.

Last time we met, down in Dorset, he’d just completed the Famous Five GBG ever-presents at Worth Matravers, treating it with his usual lack of reverence.

It’s three years since I last did the FF, and I’d no intention of revisiting them when I set off on a walk from Kings Cross to Victoria the Monday after Dudley.


Yes, I know I could have taken the tube with Mrs RM (gigging IT in Charing Cross), but then you’d miss the fun of weaving round tourists at the British Museum and the magic of England’s Second City.

St Pancras.  Massively underrated and now with a Spoons
Micropub potential -“The Crafty Buck” ?

Her Maj was out, but it was the sight of the Palace that persuaded me to take a left turn to Petty France, where the lure of the Buckingham Arms proved too strong.

Oh, come on, you resist

It’s the least well-known of the Five, I’d wager, the George Cohen of GBG pubs.

But even with the demise/rebirth/who cares of Youngs beers, this is still a stunning one-roomer, unsullied by plastic menus and promotional tat (or Greenekingisation as we know it better).


“Pint of Ordinary please”.

They certainly know how to produce a head naturally.

Yes !

I’m nervous.  Far too many beers, as is the modern way.

Used to be just Ordinary and Special

It’s a pleasant, rather than great pint of Ordinary (NBSS 2.5/3), served in a thick chunky glass I can only call Exceptional.

By London standards, good enough

It slips down a bit too easily, though.

See, I return my glass to the bar

More importantly, the pub has a wide cross-section of central London life. An elderly Japanese couple who have travelled here just to eat our burgers, American children at the high tables, a couple on a date, a few Old Boys.  For a pub so close to the Passport Office and Buck house, it’s an impressive mix.

I don’t know what Mr John would think of the 70s pop, or the Ordinary, but the little heritage room with his picture is a touching tribute to the great man.




  1. But with the 1972 edition now properly recognised as a Good Beer Guide the Famous Five is now down to the Famous One, this one.


      1. Well, yes, the 2020 GBG will probably have to be pulped and reprinted just like the “Avoid like the plague” 1974 one.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Towards the end he had a commode installed in his chauffeur-driven car for when he toured the estate.
      Not many people know that.

      Is that the time ?
      I’d like to say I’m up watching the local election results on telly but having spent enough nights in draughty community and sports centres over the years I’d be lying.
      Time to hitch a lift with the wagon again I think.


      1. I always comfort myself when awake in the early hours with the knowledge that you too are likely to be catching the worm.
        Will you be pacing up and down outside a Spoons in Rugby tapping your watch ?


      2. That will be Stafford Paul you see, Prof.

        I’m drafting another blog and drinking several strong black coffees whilst getting irritated with J. Humphries.


      3. Good lord – I stopped listening to that drivel years ago.
        About the time they stopped running this .

        Liked by 1 person

      4. P P-T,
        No, I’m not rushing my coffee this morning.
        My wife’s offered to give me a lift into town in good time for the 8.37am train which should get me into Rugby at 9.32am then about a five furlong walk to Tim’s Rupert Brooke should see me there at about 9.50am, fifty minutes after opening so hopefully someone else might have had the first pint of Abbot.
        Then to the Bull, one of Stonegate’s best pubs, which opens at 10am.
        Then I meet up with all the “lie ins” somewhere back near the station at about midday.
        Rugby’s not as good as Atherstone but I’m sure we won’t go thirsty.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sounds like a good plan Paul – enjoy the day.
        Mrs PP-T joins me for the 5 ‘o’clock club on a Friday so I’ll be keeping my powder dry all day.


      6. P P-T,
        Yes, it was proper day out with plenty of beer in plenty of pubs and great company from Leeds, Stockport, Birmingham and Cambridge.
        And I’ve just remembered that there’s a pub crawl of Stafford today so it’ll be much the same except no trains, familiar pubs and local people.
        It’s nearly time for my coffee.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. My early morning info-fix is always CNBC Squawkbox.
      Smart,financial market-driven analysis delivered with humour by Geoff and Steve accompanied by clever totty in short skirts and killer heels.
      Totty ? Haven’t used that word in years.
      About now I give Mrs PP-T a nudge and she heads downstairs to get my coffee and toast and Marmite.
      She spoils me.
      I’m awake half the night because of that new American-style IPA I mentioned – it’s very moreish.


  2. Until fairly recently I’ve been a bit conflicted in Bedford, because on the one hand the pubs are terrifically old-fangled Londony full of elderly geezers chatting and enjoying beer at all times of the day, but the beers they’re enjoying from Greene King and Charles Wells/Youngs are so utterly-utterly dull. The only town I’m happy to choose micropubs and the B*******e & K*****n over established pubs…


    1. …and yes, I know this isn’t a Bedford post, but I’m such a Midlands hick I regard Bedford as a part of the London metropole…


      1. Fair play, though it’s entirely true that Bollocks & Kitch-man really are the best bet for a decent pint in some parts of the country.


      1. Yes, and that’s logical.
        If one’s ‘Special’ t’other’s Ordinary.


  3. That pic of the Prince of Wales makes me nostalgic for the days when the choice in a Youngs pub was Or’nry or Spesh (and WW for a few lucky weeks), always reliable because that’s what most people in there were drinking (in quantity)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, and Charlie’s grandmother, a good friend of Mr John, allegedly drank quite a bit of it.


  4. Youngs also did a Mild which was certainly still around in 1982 but only in a very small number of their pubs by then. It may have been replaced by the ill-fated Young John which I think was around for a short time in the next year and although launched to a fair amount of publicity completely bombed when people tasted it – Youngs were best when they stuck to the established range. When first able to buy my own flat (also c1982) I chose Wandsworth to live entirely because of the Youngs pubs and mainly drank Ordinary. I tried the Wells version last year at the new bar under the Ibis at Cambridge station and ‘dull’ would indeed be a better name now.


    1. Ian,
      Yes I remember it as young’s Best Malt Ale – nearly as rare as a sparkler down there.


      1. I used to enjoy a Ramrod and Bitter mix in my younger days.
        And a Young’s Brown Ale and bitter when there was no WW about.
        London was a fantasticly beery place when Fuller’s and Young’s were going toe to toe and I always preferred Young’s pubs although both estates were good.
        The beer was well kept and cool – when did it all start to go to shit ?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. or 1989, the year of the Beer Orders, not that Youngs or Fullers were directly affected by them. .

        Liked by 1 person

    1. – yes, and I’ll be surprised if a pint of Pedigree from the Holly Bush’s jug isn’t Martin’s highlight of the day.

      Liked by 2 people

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