FIRST VISIT: FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2014
If you travel home from work via Canon Street station then I’d imagine that the Pelt Trader is a bit of a godsend. But, for the rest of us, the Pelt Trader is more than worth an occasional detour. It’s not a huge place but it uses its space reasonably well. A few tables are situated along the side walls, some of those tables are in their own little alcove, but the majority of the drinking is done from a standing position – I suppose most folk pop in for one or three before heading home and have no real need to gouge out in a seat. Décor is minimal – mostly fake pelts – and lighting is subdued. Beer, as is becoming the norm, is served from taps located on the back wall. The beer that each tap holds is chalked underneath.
The best thing about the Pelt Trader is the toilets. Not the actual toilets themselves, which are fine even though they feel at bit like a posh portaloo. The best thing is the fact that it’s easy to imagine that if get past one of the heavily bolted doors (no not the cubicles!) you’ll find yourself alone in tunnels belonging to the London Underground and you can then go and explore places that most mere mortals don’t get to tread. Of course, the reality is that you’d barely get more than a few metres before someone shouted ‘Oi! You! What the fuck do you think you are doing down here?’ If you chose to walk towards the voice your adventure would be over and you’ve very possibly spend the night in a police cell. If you chose to run away from the voice your adventure would very possibly end with you spending the night in the morgue because the armed response squad had gunned you down. Best just to go and urinate and then head straight back to your seat or standing spot.
I arrived shortly after 5 and the place wasn’t too busy. Some of the tables were taken but I was left with some choice. The beer choice was more extensive than the seating choice. After a moment of two of deliberation I plumped for a pint of Arbor’s Why Kick a Moo Cow. I love Arbor and I’m always happy to drink their beers and especially so when it’s one that I’ve not had before. After a gulp or two I realised that I had tried it before. No worries. It’s more than decent enough to be paid a repeat visit. I sat on one seat and draped my jacket over another in an attempt to ensure nobody tried to commandeer it. Initially my table was empty but I was soon joined by a one guy who slowly sipped a pint and read what appeared to be a novel written in a foreign language. Ten minutes after his arrival a couple of lads turned up and plonked their asses down opposite the guy with the foreign novel. They began talking excitedly. The guy with the foreign novel clearly wasn’t happy. The two lads were oblivious. The guy with the foreign novel shot them a filthy look then departed even though he still had half a pint of beer left in his glass. The place was rapidly filling up. People were starting to look eagerly at the seat with my jacket over it. I hooked a foot around one of the chair’s legs and pull it closer to me. Gently. Gently. I didn’t want people to notice I was doing what I was doing. I didn’t want to make a scene. But just in case anybody came across and asked for the chair I had created a little bit of back story. It was occupied by a friend who had just nipped out to the cash machine. And should the questioner give me a look of disbelief I was going to add that they had been gone longer than I expected and I was beginning to become concerned about their welfare. While this exchange was taking place I planned to keep glancing worryingly at mobile to help reinforce my concern. Of course, nobody wanted my seat until by friend turned up a 5.45, which is exactly when he said he would turn up. The place was now packed. But there was a good atmosphere and the staff were excellent and worked hard to ensure nobody had to wait long to be served. I had half of Sumpin (there are other words but I forget who they go) from Lagunitas followed by a half of Arbor’s Breakfast Stout (even though it was way past tea time).