Last night, I seemingly aged 20 years in a matter of hours…….or so those who I’ve told of this development in my life would have me believe.
Last night, I joined my local Working Men’s Club.
It didn’t start so well. We entered the bar room just as a rather ‘well oiled’ customer (let’s call him ‘Mr P. Artist’) was having a go at the bar tender. At this point I did wonder what I was letting myself in for. We were summoned before the club committee and led upstairs to the function room like lambs to the slaughter. As we seated ourselves down around a selection of small tables, it became quickly apparent that Mr Artist was also a prospective new member, and not an example of the current clientele.
He took what seemed like five minutes to find a chair, and then what seemed like a decade to actually sit down in it. As the Chairman began to read through the rules and regulations for the club, he took an instant dislike to the fact he couldn’t bring his wife along unless she joined too. To be honest I’m surprised he still has a wife if this is the way he likes to spend his Monday evenings, but it takes all sorts I suppose. Needless to say, (and to everyone’s obvious relief) Mr Artist was told he wouldn’t be joining the club, helped back down the stairs (mainly to avoid a medical emergency) and shown the door.
The images conjured up by simply mentioning these types of establishment are fairly vivid. Smoke filled rooms packed with foul-mouthed men in flat caps, playing darts, dominoes, snooker. A small stage with a tribute act belting out the greatest hits of Shirley Bassey, (except with less skill and much more makeup). Pie and peas for dinner, a pint of mild in hand.
I was however very pleasantly surprised. It was nothing like I imagined at all. The club was decorated very tastefully, with new carpets and upholstered comfy chairs. There were signs on the walls asking members politely not to swear. There was a jukebox with modern chart music playing (not a George Formby record in sight), a spotless snooker table and pretty excellent selection of drinks at the bar.
I’ll admit, my main aim of joining the club was somewhere to go for a cheap pint every now and again, and in this regard I was not disappointed. Two pints here cost just slightly more than what you’d pay for one pint at a pub just around the corner.
However there would seem to be more to this place than just cheap booze. Everyone appeared to know each other and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. I’ll certainly dust down the snooker queue and see if I can remember the rules and which order to pot the balls in.
Not to completely blow away the stereotypes though, I did have a couple of pints of Tetley’s Mild.
Now, where did I put that flat cap…………..