The Pub With No Beer
There’s a wonderful little venue on the Kemp Town/Brighton border where I’ve seen several excellent gigs both musical and theatric. It’s called ‘Upstairs at Three and Ten’. Sadly the same positivity cannot be directed to the downstairs pub ‘Three and Ten.’ On the last couple of occasions I’ve attended a gig at the former, the latter has been sadly lacking in one or more of the basic things you expect from such an establishment.
These expectations are beer on tap, Guinness, polite and/or friendly staff, a choice of drinks at reasonable prices, help and empathy when for whatever reason they can’t supply what you first ask for and a hearty atmosphere. Given the correct supply of the majority of factors on this list, the final one follows by dint of there being a happy and content clientele as a result.
The Three in Ten has failed me miserably – on this occasion more miserably than I would have thought possible. I’ll just give you a bullet-pointed list as to linger putting it all into wordy prose would be just too, too painful….
• There were no draught beers due to the lack of delivery: this may well have been owing to the fact that the narrow lane was cut off by unavoidable roadworks [I’m extrapolating here, in order to give the pub the benefit of any doubt] – this might be understandable and easily tolerated if some effort had been made to fill at least some of the gaps – but for instance there had been no evident progress in providing, say, bottled Guinness as an alternative to the draught variety [I’m not getting involved in arguments about whether such a substitution might or might not have been acceptable] – there was no apparent shortage of bottled beer, by the way, other….
• than the fact that the choice seemed to be limited to cider, cyder, cidre, lager, laager, laguer and amber nectar. No, not even Newcastle Brown!... I settled for a bottle of Tiger, which can be quite nice if NOT served at below - 200 deg Kelvin, which this seemed to be – as a lover of warm beer [after all this is England, home of the same]. I was not here to get pissed, drink alcohol whatever the circumstances etc – I just wanted to wet my whistle before, during and after being entertained at a rather good concert.
• I took one swig from the beer and my throat was immediately anaesthetised if not destroyed by near-absolute zero liquid nitrogen, so I surgically removed the bottle from my lips and asked the barmaid if I could have a [non-alcoholic] ginger beer [having spied some on the cold shelf as opposed to in the freezer and how much it would cost [bearing in mind that I’d already shelled out for a round of drinks where no-one had got what they’d originally asked for]… “90pence for half a can,” came the reply. You could have knocked me down with a feather – not only by the price, but also by the idea that one might get sold half a can [what would happen to the other half, would it be flat before another mug came along for it?, would it have to be chucked away at the end of the evening?, was such an arrangement acceptable under weights and measures, hygiene, health and safety etc legislation?] My reaction was not to ask these entirely reasonable questions but to blurt out, ‘£1.80 for a can of fizzy pop you could buy for 30pence in a shop?’ The reply floored me. This IS central Brighton, don’t you know?’ – not even sympathetic with my objection. In fact – to put it bluntly – fucking rude!
• I then turned to the callow youth masquerading as ‘Mein Host’: ‘Could I have a cup of tea please?’ I enquired, trying to remain calm, although by now quite distressed. ‘No hot drinks available in the evening.’ [Not even ‘sorry’ or ‘sir’].
I gave up, left my almost unstarted bottle of Tiger on the counter [wondering if they’d manage to resell it] and went over to Morrisons Supermarket and bought a yogurt drink and the largest bar of cheap white chocolate I could lay hands on to settle my jangled nerves and recently acquired despair in at least a particular sector of human kind.
It might be unfair to judge the quality of an olde englishe pubbe – on the strength of two visits to the place – but I’m sure greater judgements have been passed on lesser evidence. I certainly will arm myself with suitable sustenance next time I attend an entertainment at ‘Upstairs at Three and Ten’ whilst giving the incompetent gang of crooks downstairs a very wide birth.
Some of the conversational exchanges in this article may have been edited and rebuilt for ‘comic/tragic’ effect – but there again, they may not.