Thursday, 27 May 2010

Reconnecting


I'm not often in Manchester during the day, well not in the centre anyway, but yesterday I had to nip into Piccadilly Station to enable some rail vouchers to be used. Having queued for 20 minutes the idea of a pint seemed an attractive one, though not in the station. That could be dismissed out of hand, as not only is there no cask to be had, but the sheer bland, characterless crappiness and soul destroying emptiness of the places, would make the idea of throwing yourself under the nearest Pendolino an attractive one. Not feeling suicidal, I went elsewhere.

It had started to rain as I walked back and a quick decision had to be made. The City Arms it was. This is a little hidden gem just behind the Town Hall (an inadequate name for a magnificent Victorian edifice by the way) and a welcome oasis after the suits have gone back to work. Small, cosy, old fashioned, with a small front room, a magnificently tiled corridor and a bigger back room with bench seating, it was just what I needed and the type of pub that used to be in every city centre, but nowadays is all too rare. The beer range here isn't that adventurous - think mainly regionals and family brewers - but it's always well kept. I settled on a bench in the back room with a pint of Bateman's Spring Goddess which was a very decent drink. The Bateman's house style was evident, but it's a taste I like, so all was well. There wasn't many in, but I people watched for a bit. A voluble Northern Irish businessman and his colleague. A couple of middle aged female shoppers gossiping over a glass of Pinot Grigio, a few at the bar putting the world to rights and just by the door, a racing type, quietly studying the form as he sipped his pint of Tetley. One other inmate chatted conspiratorially with the landlord, whose eyes constantly flicked around, checking all was well. No background music, just people calmly enjoying a respite from whatever.

There is a newspaper rack too and I wandered over to pick up the Guardian. I like its Berliner size, and though I used to buy it daily and haven't really read it for over a decade, somehow it seemed just right. The clock ticked on and my pint slowly diminished as I adjusted to the pace of things and enjoyed a moment that seemed fixed in time. When my pint was eventually emptied, I put the paper back and left.

In this rare case, one pint was just right.

The City Arms is at 46-48 Kennedy Street Manchester M2 4BQ

17 comments:

RedNev said...

The City Arms is one of the best Manchester city centre pubs I've come across, although my experience isn't extensive. I last drank in there some time last year and it was very much as you described it. It's probably tucked just a little too much out of the way to have been knocked into a soulless, one-roomed city centre bar in the 60s or 70s.

Dubbel said...

Nice post.

You get a completely unique feel for a pub when you're on your own. Lots of people I speak to would never ever consider going into a pub on their todd. Almost a fear-like reaction to being seen as a sad, lonely git.

I take no issue with it whatsoever, although I'm unlikely to hang around for more than a pint or two.

Tandleman said...

When you are my age, you don't care whether people think you are a sad git or not, though I agree a pint or two is about right.

Tyson said...

A pub very much improved by the smoking ban. It could be quite grim in there.

Southern Sam said...

As someone who disapproves of the smoking ban (but who nevertheless supports the right of landlords to ban people lighting up in THEIR premises 100%), I wholehearedly agree with Tyson's point. The CA would be a worse place for allowing smoking.

As for drinking alone...who cares? If every time I found myself in a new or different city I had to be preoccupied by what a bunch of know-nothings or insecure pri*cks thought about me ordering one pint at a time I (and the pubs i've frequented) would be much the worse for it!

Paul Garrard said...

"When you are my age, you don't care whether people think you are a sad git or not, though I agree a pint or two is about right." - ditto.

I do like a pub that has newspapers particularly when there is papers I favour. A pint and something to read and I'm happy in a pub on my own for however long I desire.

RedNev said...
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RedNev said...
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RedNev said...

"As someone who disapproves of the smoking ban (but who nevertheless supports the right of landlords to ban people lighting up in THEIR premises 100%)..."

An utterly meaningless statement. Although most people don't smoke, licensees generally didn't ban smoking. The nearest pre-ban smoke-free pub to me was more than 50 miles away, so licensees were catering for the minority of the population. And PLEASE don't quote pub closures; here are the findings of a recent survey of drinkers, who blamed pub closures on:

40.14% Cheap supermarket booze
26.16% Beer Tax
16.85% Beer Tie
9.32% Recession
5.38% Smoking Ban
2.15% Anti-alcohol health campaigners

Erlangernick said...

It is very American to fear being seen in public alone. Now I know where the poor Yanks have inherited this trait from--it ain't from the continental emigrants.

I've been to the City Arms thrice now ...heh heh... never alone. Twice under the guidance of der Tandelmann to steer me in the right direction --towards the pub, as well as away from improper beer selections-- and then once with the little woman, to show her how great the place is.

It's a great place.

Southern Sam said...

Not interested in hijacking this comments page with a debate on the smoking ban, Rednev.

All I will say is that despite being an ex-smoker, and one who enjoys eating and drinking in smoke-free establishments, I fail to see why my wishes and preferences in this respect should be enshrined in law.

Cooking Lager said...

40% blame Tesco, RedNev? With all the money I save on cheap supermarket lout, I can afford to go into a pub this weekend. The style of the Foster's glass has changed so I need a new one.

RedNev said...

"Not interested in hijacking this comments page with a debate on the smoking ban, Rednev."

Pious words, marred only by the fact that I was merely responding to your prior comments on the smoking ban. And I seriously doubt the government had your wishes and preferences in mind when they passed the law.

Southern Sam said...

Whether you consider my words pious or 'marred' is of little concern to me.

I am however in complete agreement with your last sentence!

Curmudgeon said...

Well, maybe we could have had the City Arms as a pub that allowed smoking, and the next-door Vine as a non-smoking pub, and see which did best. My money would be on the City Arms.

Tandleman said...

If it was the other way round my money would still be on the City Arms!

Leigh said...

To get back to the beer, I too tried a pint of Batemans Spring Goddess this week, and found it perfect beer garden material.