Last month I visited 32 pubs (out of 88 in total) that weren’t new GBG ticks, a pathetically unprofessional effort.

And here’s one of them, the NCI Club in the tight terraces of north Cambridge (Chesterton, to be precise, which I rarely am), just north of Christ’s Pieces.


Quite what a Sports and Social Club has to do with the blog title, only Elvis knows.

I bet you think NCI stands for “No Craft Inside“, don’t you ?

No Craft Inside

You’d be wrong.

The Abbot’s off

Attendance at the Penelope Isles gig gains me admission to the bar, one of a clutter of rooms in a club that had a year or two in the GBG in the ’90s, an era when IPA and Hobson’s Choice (the beername) was enough to get you a Guide place, even in Cambridge.

Abbot still off

As you’ll know that looks an expansive beer range to me, but go to CAMRA Discourse right now and read beer bores whining that their local Bloggs or Smithers-Jones pub doesn’t change their beer range on a daily basis.



I arrived at the interval due to life and missed the local band, whose singer was being congratulated by her mum. I nodded my appreciation and will probably declare their gig I didn’t see my gig of the year.

The spare table was at the door, which was immediately commandeered by a gaggle of students who deposited their pints while they nipped out for a fag (BRING BACK DEDICATED SMOKING ROOMS SO OUR STUDENTS DON’T FREEZE).

When they got back they couldn’t tell who’s pint was who’s (top).

Spurs had just pulled a goal back against the Greeks.

Nosey !

Several takers for the Yardbird, apparently a zesty microbrew from an up-and-coming Suffolk brewery that West Suffolk CAMRA ought to champion.

Served in a chunky glass, it was cool and bubbly and all those other words that champion beer writers use. I scored the NCI Club a 3.5, so watch it smash into the GBG in 2023.

You could even take your glass into a gig, but probably not bounce around to the psych pop of Penelope Isle, who were rather wonderful.


I bet they’ve never heard of Van Halen though.


  1. 32 out of 88 is indeed a larger proportion than I would have imagined. But it shows you don’t allow the GBG to dictate every last pub visit.

    There aren’t any dedicated smoking rooms allowed in Michigan anymore either. I recall David Sedaris saying he finally quit smoking because he couldn’t bear to stay at the few remaining hotels, all of them quite shabby, that still allowed smoking.

    They still have them in Japan though. I’ve seen glass-enclosed sections of fast food restaurants where smokers no doubt feel more than a little like they’re in a goldfish bowl!


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