Published: 11:30, 27 September 2019
| Updated: 08:16, 17 August 2020
I don’t often refer to the urban dictionary, but one glance at this week’s pub tells you it’s as ‘rough as a badger’s ****’.
Walking through this corner of New Ash Green’s concrete jungle you come face to face with what must be one of the most uninviting pubs ever.
I would challenge anyone passing The Badger on The Row to think: “This looks like a great pub, I must pop in”.
Well, fortunately for you I’m made of sterner stuff and am able to report back on this carbuncle owned by the Brakspear Pub Company which describes itself as a ‘family-friendly community pub’.
So, is it any better on the inside?
Entry is via a porch area which, when I visited, was mainly taken up by a large red mountain bike you needed to swerve around.
Once inside two things are clear, firstly it’s a Tardis and, secondly, although the pub hails from the 1960s or 1970s, it at least looks as if it’s been done up on the inside.
It’s clear the motley collection of regulars is never going to speak to anyone new who comes in - if you do visit I’ll leave it up to you to decide if this is a positive or a negative.
The barman, however, was very different and could not have been more welcoming. Looking like a cross between one of The Proclaimers and a young Sean Lock, he spent a fair bit of time on a stool at the end of the bar on his phone. But when required he was attentive, polite and friendly and, as it was a quiet evening, even offered table service.
Brakspear Bitter was the only ale on offer and one taste was enough to tell you this is a bar which mainly serves lager. However, Mrs SD remained traditional with a large sav blanc and said it was the best tasting, best value wine she’s had in a pub for a long time.
The TV screens were showing Inter Milan v Slavia Prague (1-1 final score for anyone interested) but not a soul paid the slightest attention to them. Instead they played a series of ancient songs on the jukebox and sang along with gusto. The only breaks in the singing took place when each member of the choir took their turn outside for fag.
Loudest among them was birthday boy Jim, a Virgo and self-confessed worrier, and Sam, dressed in a whistle and flute, who only stayed 15 minutes but was cheered into the pub.
Even the electronic fruit machine played its part in the festivities as it was bright and colourful enough to look like a disco all on its own.
But, whatever musical party is currently keeping regulars happy there can be no escaping the fact this so-called local village pub has historically had serious problems.
The main warning that drugs will not be tolerated sits above the door to the ladies’ toilet, presumably the gents have already got the message, but other no-nonsense posters make it clear Kent police will drug test both regular customers and visitors.
On the subject of the facilities, the toilets clearly received a makeover at the same time the restaurant was redecorated and were clean and fresh.
I only ever report on a moment in time and whilst they might not put out the red carpet for visitors I saw no sign of anything untoward - but just in case every single inch of the place is still carefully covered by CCTV.
By now the singalong music had shifted from the upbeat White Lines by Grand Master Flash and Melle Mel to Riders On The Storm courtesy of The Doors, so I was ready to leave.
However, the big fella Roy, bald on top with long grey hair round the edges, then announced he was playing I Can’t Get Started (Bunny Berigan) in honour of his dear departed dad – out of respect we stayed until the final notes before beating a hasty retreat.