CRICKETERS – SWINDON

Cricketers
Emlyn Square
Swindon
SN1 5BN

SECOND VISIT: SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 2014

A bus drove by without stopping despite a guy beside me flagging out down. It was 15 minutes to the next bus. A pint in the Cricketers! The Saturday clientele is a lot dodgier looking than those who were there the previous Friday. The woman behind the bar was old and eyed me suspiciously. But she poured my pint of Guinness in the recommended pour pause pour style. I took a seat by the entrance door just in case I had to make a hasty exit. The rugger was on the TV. Scotland were trailing to France. Some guy at the bar was repeatedly bemoaning the fact that they wouldn’t serve him in Wetherspoons. Eventually the barwoman said ‘You know you’re banned from them all so I don’t know why you bother.’ I finished my pint and returned my glass to the bar, which seemed to shock and please the guardian of the bar. Everyone else eyed me with an interest that bordered on hatred. To (almost) quote Walt Whitman: It’s probably best if I don’t return.

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FIRST VISIT: FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2015

This used to be a gay bar. It might still be a gay bar but these days its core clientele appears to be people that have been barred from every other pub in town. It’s a tad run down and jaded looking but not in the shabby chic style that has become so prevalent in the current bar scene. There were two cask handpulls but both were devoid of beer. Carling was also off – apparently it didn’t arrive with that morning’s delivery. The beer choice was Kronenbourg or Guinness. Or Strongbow. The fridge only seemed to contain fruity fizzy ciders. I went for a pint of Guinness. It was part poured then allowed to settle before being topped up. I was passed a pint that had a very impressively sized creamy white head. The barman told me to take a couple of gulps and then he’d top it back up. I took a couple of gulps. He topped it back up. The pub stereo was playing power ballads and power pop hits of the 80s. The sounds were coupled with flashing disco lights. It was just like the last couple of decades hadn’t existed. The Guinness was alright. The barman/landlord was friendly enough. The punters looked dodgy but none of them threatened my life. It certainly wasn’t my most favourite visit to a pub but it passed the ten minutes until my bus home arrived. To quote Walt Whitman: I may again return.

QUEEN’S TAP – SWINDON

Queen’s Tap
Station Road
Swindon
SN1 1DG

FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2014

Exit Swindon train station and walk in a straight line (or as straight as 11 pints will allow) and you’ll very quickly find yourself in the Queen’s Tap. Once upon a time it was a biker bar. Then it was a Goth bar. Then it was a really shit bar. Now it’s just a bar. But it does live music and sells Guinness. I had a pint of Guinness. ‘No I fucking don’t want extra cold!’ The band played Teenage Kicks followed by A Town Called Malice. They didn’t play them particularly well but nobody seemed to mind. The finished playing. I finished my Guinness. I could see no further reason to hang around.

BOSTON ARMS – LONDON

Boston Arms
Junction Road
London
N19 5QQ

FIRST VISIT: FRIDAY 2 MAY 2014

The Boston Arms seems like a bit of a local boozer. The kind of place that if you want some trouble you can find some trouble. But it’s also the kind of place that if you want a quiet drink with your other half you can do so without the threat of casual violence. Don’t make scowly eye contact with the men who like to make scowly eye contact and all will be fine… probably.

We were here because we were attending the Electric Eel Shock gig in the Boston Arms’ Music Room. We’d arrived before the gig doors had opened and our brief visit to Aces & Eights (just across the road) was not a great experience. So know we were in the couples corner of the Boston Arms drinking Holsten Vier and Doom Bar. Our pints were finished the exact same time as the gigs doors opened so we moved next door to drink pints of Guinness and watch a great EES gig.