I can’t quite believe it, but I’ve checked The Spreadsheet and it appears I did no pubs at all on New Year’s Day. This is what it feels like, when pubs cry etc. etc.
But on the Sunday Mrs RM joined me on a trip South to see assorted parents, friends and hangers-on to kick-start 2022.
And where better to start than the Premier Inn at Stevenage‘s Lister Hospital ?
Nowhere, that’s where.
We lived up the road, worked and had our first child at the Lister, and in 1996 drove round the villages bordering the Knebworth estate as the band that inspired the Beatles plodded through their famed meat and potatoes set to 250,000 easily pleased 20-somethings.
Back in 1996 Knebworth meant The Lytton Arms in the old village, and a single unremarkable pub by the station, coincidentally also the name of the pub.
As so often, a campaign to rescue a pub from residential development, removal of its much-loved Greene King IPA or other heinous crime coincides with GBG entry and the installation of historic artefacts on the wall.
We entered to the smell of Sunday roast and the sound of “Message In A Bottle” and staff running around carrying plates of gravy to groups enjoying (apparently) a late family Christmas.
There’s a sign saying “Wait to be seated“, no-one comes; Mrs RM just sits down as she’s well-behaved. I wander to the bar with a mask on and ask if I can get a drink. Obviously I can.
Sometimes the photo says all you need about the sort of pub you’re getting, and the presence of those two (excellent, cool and crisp 3.5) Nene Valley beers also says “smart diner that takes beer seriously”.
But it can’t tell you what nonsense the lovely staff have to put up with as two pashmina’d moaners kick off at the bar, goading each other on to ever more over-egged complaints about their meal in an attempt to get a discount.
Hey ! It’s Christmas. Be kind, as the moaners probably say on their Twitter profiles.
My admiration for our wonderful pub staff grows by the day (until they’re shut having said they’ll be open).