Published: 11:57, 27 December 2019
| Updated: 14:39, 27 January 2020
“The beer is not on, it hasn’t been on all week, if you want beer then you’re better off going to Wetherspoons round the corner”.
It wasn’t quite the welcome I was expecting, but I decided not to write off the grand sounding Royal Hotel in Sheerness at the first hurdle.
After all, I’m not adverse to a decent lager so I chose instead a pint of Birra Moretti – that, at least, is what it said on the tap. I’ve no idea what Gill actually served me before she went back to counting the knives and forks, all I can say is that it was wet and mildly fizzy. I also had a packet of crisps which, despite being only just out of date, somehow matched the quality of the lager as they were rubbery and tasteless.
I began to wonder if an early exit and an escape route to Spoons might not be the best bet.
There was a hobbyhorse lying against the side of the fridge next to the fruit machine so at least I’d have had transport and company.
But I’m made of sterner stuff so sought conversation elsewhere. There were two fellas sat at the bar - one was busy conducting business and the other, latterly, was parenting.
Against my better judgement, but determined still not to write it off, I ordered a tuna and sweetcorn ciabatta for £3.50, or at least that’s what it said on the menu, at the bar the price was £3.70. Ever heard the saying ‘you get what you pay for’? I’ll explain later.
Whilst waiting for the food I was entertained by scruffy guy number one at the bar. He was negotiating the sale of parts to plumb in a dishwasher and it wasn’t going down well, certainly not as well as the pints of lager. To be fair every time he swore at the top of his voice he apologised to the world in general. At one point he was saying sorry even before he’d effed and jeffed. Finally, pushing the paperwork aside, he started boasting how long he could make a tub of white emulsion last.
At this point, putting his pint down, scruffy guy number two got up and, just as I thought he was about to play the fruitie, reached into a pushchair and pulled out a baby. I thought it had been rammed under the jukebox and pushed up against the fruit machine for storage, and had no idea it contained a child.
But, with food imminent and feeling the need to wash my hands I headed away from the new crèche in search of the gents. I found them in a dark corner of the pub down an old wooden step and, due to the lack of a working bulb, felt for the door. Inside the toilets were lit, though it might have been preferable if they weren’t. I’ll spare you the worst grisly details, but above the urinals it looked as if customers have taken out their frustrations on the plastic walls.
Back in the bar the ‘food’ was arriving - the bread was tepid and the tuna cold. Sadly the bread cooled completely within two minutes and it was blatantly obvious it had been microwaved to hide just how stale it was. As soon as it was cold it went rock hard to the point teeth couldn’t penetrate it. It is, without doubt, the most inedible thing I have ever been served on any continent of the world.
So, are there any redeeming features?
The dartboard looks as if it hasn’t been touched for ages, there are two fruit machines, a quiz machine, a pool table a jukebox and picture of a train that is, inexplicably, screwed onto the wall upside down.
Scruff #1 was apologising for screaming “£35 for a ****ing drill bit”, tabs are not available in the bar or restaurant and, most paradoxically, there’s a sign declaring: ‘Enter as strangers, leave as friends’.
A third customer now entered the fray and half a lager was pulled and ready before the old lady in a grey bobble hat had even got to the bar. Barmaid Gill then discussed a whole variety of ailments and they competed to see who was the sickest before the bobble hat parked her shopping trolley and took a side seat.
I think the only positive I saw was the fact that the kid taken from the pushchair seemed a remarkably happy young chap.
Not a great way to end 2019, here’s to a better start and a happy New Year in 2020.