I’ve been travelling round the country a lot with work lately, and usually end up on licensed premises, since the meeting I go to take place in pubs. A few recent visits are worthy of a few notes.

The Elephant and Castle, Wakefield – Situated opposite Wakefield Westgate station, it looked a like a dream. Station pubs are often crackers (The Swan and Railway near both Wigan stations is a favourite), and this looked magnificent. Imagine a Leslie Green tube station with brown exterior tiling instead of oxblood and you’ll have the idea.

But wait – a man stumbles out looking and acting like the father in ‘Rita, Sue, and Bob too’. Apprehension. The three police horses and van outside aren’t a good sign either. Ah, here comes a middle aged respectable couple exiting as they begin a civil Saturday night around town. And so we enter.

Which was a mistake. To use the vernacular, the place was a khazi. It had for some god-forsaken reason, been renovated.There was a lovely reconditioned ceiling design, which was helpful, as looking up was a good idea so as to not make eye contact. In case I was engaged in conversation, I pondered where to declare myself from. Saying London might incite resentment, whilst the true answer (Manchester) might re-awaken Wars of the Roses sentiments, so decided that if asked, I would say ‘Workington’ since whilst Cumbria is resolutely northern, the far coast of that county is so remote as to mean that they have no rivalries in far-flung places like Yorkshire, mainly as most people don’t know where it is. But then there’s always Rugby League emnities…

Luckily, it wasn’t needed. The man nearest looked like he’d wiped his bum on his grey jumper, but I didn’t dare use to toilets to find out whether there was a shortage of paper. The dominoes were set up, which I took as a good sign, but it wasn’t too last. A party arrived who were beginning their Saturday night fun, and the banter started. I can’t honestly remember what comment preceded this particular gem, but when one woman opined that ‘I’ll tell you who says so, my fucking cunt says so’, we thought we should make like Sunday newspaper reporters and make out excuses and leave.

This place is amazingly also residential.

Ye John O’Gaunt, Lancaster – My favourite pub where I used to live is still a good ‘un. The World Dryer Corporation model is an antique model, when the company was based on Edgware Road, and still works brilliantly. The same toilet has a wonderful thing that every pub should have – a padded cushion over the urinal. Whilst I don’t have too much truck with the dedication on the cushion – Oliver Reed RIP is a bit too Loaded – I appreciate the facility. It really does make that aspect of pub drinking almost a pleasure, which has got to be a good thing (I think). The beer is excellent too, and so is the impressive single malt collection. The food is just right and the pub as a whole is a well run tight ship.

The down side is the sad affliction many a good pub suffers from – namely, Jazz, which usually means the CAMRA folk aren’t too far behind, and in this instance, they’re not. A certain times, the pub becomes unusable, as various acts perform to a packed crowd making conversation impossible, movement less so. There’s also the annoying kick out time habit of playing the Monty Python theme tune (can’t remember the name of the Sousa march it really is) which bespeaks a revue-type mentality and accompanying sense of humour running through the pub that is confirmed by cartoons from Punch in the toilet. Admittedly, they seem to have got the funniest cartoons ever seen in Punch, but nonetheless, that would involve reading it for years…