The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, October 9

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Maybe it’s because I am from the North, but I am always on the lookout for a bargain. When it comes to the odd free pint, the London based brewers are especially generous. And so it was that I headed down to London for the day, armed with a couple of free pint vouchers, courtesy of the Fullers Fine Ale Club and the Mr Hyde website. After an interesting morning spent wandering around trying to get into some of the incredibly popular open buildings that London had to offer on their equivalent of Heritage Day, I parted company with the bar wife and headed off to a minor football game up at Haringey, where they were playing Bury Town. ‘Are you from Bury?’ a woman in the queue for coffee asked me. Well, yes and no…

On the way I had decided to cash in my Fullers voucher at the Euston Flyer, close to Kings Cross. It was a bad time with a live rugby match on TV competing with Chelsea v Arsenal and Middlesbrough v Forest. Finally I struggled through the raucous masses to the bar and explained that I wanted a pint of Front Row, the rugby themed seasonal special listed on my printout. The barmaid came back with a pint of Frontier, described as a ‘new wave craft lager…crafted to explore new territories in taste’ I am in a dilemma. The place is rocking as yet another Arsenal player receives a red card. There’s a scrum round the bar desperate to be served and I have a free pint which should cost the thick end of £5. Is it worth having a discussion and pointing out the small print on my now soggy printout, or should I just drink the lager? After all, how bad could it be after all the crafting that went into it? I took the easy way out and drunk the lager. I had just come back from Spain where I had existed on a diet of cold, fizzy, bland Estrella and Cruzcampo, and for the next few minutes I was feeling nostalgic for them. Sometimes I think putting the word ‘craft’ on a product is not necessarily a guarantee of quality.

After the football game, where possibly the most interesting event was watching a guy sat on the roof of his car in the car park to watch the match over the fence, thus saving himself £6, I met the bar wife in the Betjeman Arms on St Pancras Station, which, if you don’t know it, is upstairs at the end next to the statue of the lovers, under the clock. It is generally quiet and relaxed and we both managed to swap a voucher for a pint of Young’s bitter each, which rounded off an excellent day.

Back in Lynn, my thoughts turned to food, and while it is true that we have a fine range of restaurants and coffee shops, there is not much out of the mainstream. As we wait with mounting excitement for Starbucks to open, up in Bolton the traffic has been stopped whilst a fuselage of a jumbo jet has been delivered to a site which I think was once occupied by the country’s first drive through burger bar. When the seats and kitchen have been added it will open as a new restaurant called ‘Steaks on a Plane’. Check out the video on the Bolton News website if you think I am making it up. This of course, leads one into thinking of other possible Samuel L Jackson related products. Mango Unchained, Jackie Brown Ale…oh, you do some.