More exciting UK towns to tempt you out of Lockdown in 2022, and another chance for me to recycle old rubbish with impunity.
Reader Huish Hugh asked for more salt-of-the-earth football (anything below City, I guess), so where better than
Yeovil Stevenage, if only because I’ve been bullied into clearing out the garage and this was the first programme I found.
Hugh will be delighted to recall that Yeovil recovered from their perilous position on 25 April to finish bottom at season end and slip to Tier 6.
Eighteen years later they were 4 divisions higher playing Leeds in the Championship. Such are the joys of football.
25 years ago I was living in the posh bit of Stevenage (Hitchin) and occasionally attending Broadhall Way to watch an unlikeable team full of Daves, Stuarts and Leo bully their way to the League.
By phoning the Boro Hot Line (0891 88 44 87) you could find out the match result. At 49p per minute it cost you 98p to find out Alty had lost this match 4-2.
The programme only has one advert for a bar, and that’s the frankly improbably Goodfellas (top) which catered for the rich and famous and therefore may have misjudged its market.
Stevenage is, of course, best known as being the stunt double for Slough in The Office (UK version). I’ve fond memories of the place though.
The lovely people at the Lister Hospital employed me for five years, taught me 3-sided book-keeping, and delivered our son James (after 36 hours, according to Mrs RM).
James will never get that off his birth certificate, and some day I’ll take him back to admire the post-war architecture.
It’s not a real ale hot bed, but the New Town Spoons near the station had a classic cask range when I popped in back in 2016.
Cellar problems, apparently. Nice North Herts service (“You’re more than welcome, my lovely“), and the quality of conversation would provide Simon with 3 posts worth of material. Pregnancy tests, blow-up dolls and WKD in the same sentence, pensioners today know how to live.
Less excitingly, I’d spent my stag night in the Old Town Surma curry house in 1992; it still has a plaque up to commemorate the fact.
I was teetotal before marrying Mrs RM, so the highlight of the evening was watching Denmark beat Germany in the Euros in the nurses quarters at the Lister. Kids today don’t know what a good time is.
Near the Surma is the Chequers, one of those Greene King locals that raided the GBG by adding half a dozen pumps 5 years ago (See also : Pontefract).
Unexpectedly, a magnificent GK mild (NBSS 4) belying its 3%. Some rarely heard Smokey Robinson tracks too.
Only one visit to Stevenage since then, for an estate pub just out of town that lasted barely a year in the Guide but would have won my prestigious Estate Pub of the Month award had I run it.
You’re never quite sure what reception you’re going to get in an estate pub, even an 18th century model like this, but it’s nearly always better than you expect.
As it was here, where in my mildly scruffy but functional dress I fitted in perfectly with a wider mix of locals than you might expect at 5.30pm. Tradesmen of all ages, of course, a lot of polo shirts, and a table playing cards.
The Proper Job was nectar (NBSS 4 +), just as it had been in a Woking estate pub running on similar principles and commitment to clean lines. The light poured in, the beer was cool and rich, I was very happy.
Denmark (them again) played Armenia on the telly, and a rather more energetic game of pool rumbled on behind me.
If you’re not tempted by the Dhansak in the Surma, I can recommend the pancake roll from the Fisherman’s Wharf.
But where are the micros ?