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).


  1. Matthew and I witnessed a similar incident, a few weeks before Christmas, in a rural pub, near Paddock Wood. I haven’t written about it yet, as I was planning to revisit the pub in daylight, and get some decent photos of the exterior.

    There was a group of six or seven people sitting on the other side of the section of the pub, where we were. There had been a mistake with one of the orders for which the waitress apologised. It was rather pertinent that the person who had received the “wrong ” starter, had eaten most of it before complaining!

    The apology from the waitress, for her error, wasn’t enough for two rather vociferous women, who then went into full rant mode, about a number of other alleged “problems” with the food, resulted in the chef being called.

    The whole thing was embarrassing to listen, and Matt and I felt really sorry for the staff involved, particularly as our food was fine – pub grub, flavoursome, well-cooked, well presented and good value!

    We left before the incident had been resolved, but I suspect, as in the case which you witnessed, these obnoxious people, who take delight in belittling hard-working bar staff, were angling for a serious reduction in their bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly the same as I saw, Paul. Perhaps the pub was a little busier than usual, they’d only just re-opened after am enforced closure, but they were just egging each other on to make complaints they hadn’t made at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My sister used to work for one of M and B’s upmarket brands where this behaviour was a regular occurrence. It reveals Middle England at its worst, and usually involves trying to bully teenage, or non-English, staff.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. We generally keep quiet about poor food /service apart from one time at Cote brasserie in London where the meal had been a shambles (although the food was ok service was a mess ) We complained & ended up only paying for the drinks -still a lot as there were about 10 of us -I am still slightly ashamed that we kicked off though -but we were “in our cups ” as the old saying goes

    Liked by 2 people

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