This post was supposed to be about last weekend’s visit to Dartford Working Men’s Club (DWMC), and to a large extent it is, but before detailing the excellent range of beers on sale there, I want to pick up on a fairly recent post by Curmudgeon, titled “Pint Size”. The post was about poorly behaved children in pubs, but many readers seemed to take it as being “anti-child”, rather than “anti-badly behaved child”. It attracted a large number of comments and also a fair amount of criticism, from a coalition of “yummy mummies”, and so-called “progressive thinkers” (trendy liberal types), with people accusing the writer of living in the past and being a miserable old git. Now, having witnessed at first hand the disruption these badly-behaved little treasures/little horrors and their parents can cause, I fully sympathise with Curmudgeon’s view that children have their places, but a pub isn’t one of them.
For pub, also read club, as our visit to DWMC last Saturday was certainly marred, although not completely spoiled by a group of uncaring parents/carers letting one of their “little darlings/out of control brats” run riot, seemingly not bothered by the effect their off-spring was having on the rest of the drinkers in the club. Before going any further, I’m not exactly sure where the law stands with regard to children in clubs. Clubs are after all, private establishments with entry restricted to members and their guests, so the restrictions which apply to children in pubs may not be appropriate for clubs.
From the beer lover’s point of view, DWMC is well worth a visit as it is a former CAMRA Club of the Year Winner. Beer-wise it is easy to see why the club won this award. I’m not quite certain how many different ales were on tap when we called in, but those I noticed, which were the ones we tried, were in tip-top form. The bar staff were knowledgeable and friendly and offered tastings to those of us who were unfamiliar with a particular brew. I enjoyed both the 3.9% Art Nouveau from Art Brew, plus Magic Rock’s Rapture, a 4.6% Red Hop Ale. A couple of my companions also enjoyed Shepherd Neame’s retro-style India Pale Ale, which I wrote about here, but I wasn’t aware the brewery had made it available on draught.
No complaints with the beer then, but before we go any further I have a confession to make. I don’t like clubs; never have and from what I am still seeing, I never will. To me they are a quintessential Northern thing, full of ex-miners and brass band members totally out of place down here in the “soft south”. Like glorified airport departure lounges, superficially comfortable but completely lacking atmosphere, character and soul! Give me a pub any day!
To return to the main point of the post, last weekend’s visit was marred by an obnoxious brat charging up and down between the tables, screeching at the top of his voice, whilst his chav-like parents/ carers (not much caring going on there!), carried on with their socialising/swigging lager and alco-pops out of bottles. Ironically, just behind where we were sitting, there was prominent notice displayed on the wall asking parents to keep their children under control. The notice went on to warn that failure to comply with this request would result in the said offenders being asked to leave the club, and may even lead to their being barred.
Well we saw precious evidence of this perfectly reasonable ruling being enforced. In fact we saw none at all! My friends and I were guests in the club and as such felt it inappropriate to complain about what was going on. Instead we were hoping that other members present might say something, but so far as we noticed, not a word was said. When I say “guests” I mean it in the loosest sense of the word, as upon our arrival, and subsequent ringing of the doorbell, we were let straight in without being asked to sign the guest book, show our CAMRA membership cards or any other from of identification/qualification that should, if rules were to be followed correctly, permit us entry. We are obviously unfamiliar with the way DWMC operates, but if it allows unrestricted admission to complete strangers like us, presumably they are not unduly strict with any other Tom, Dick or Harry who wants to wander in off the streets for a cut-price pint! I would therefore question as to whether the group causing all the hassle were even members or not?
Before going any further I would like to say that it is not the child’s fault for behaving in this way. Children need to let off steam, especially if they are hyped up on a diet of junk food and fizzy drinks. Letting this “little darling” run round the local park would have been a more sensible, and productive way, to spend a Saturday afternoon. It would also have allowed those of us present in the club to enjoy our drinks in peace. However, when dealing with selfish and basically ignorant people who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, and who seem totally oblivious to the effect their behaviour might have on others, what does one expect?
Finally, I am surprised as to how the club manages to shift all this cask ale and keep in tip top condition. I say this because apart from ourselves, I didn’t really notice anyone else drinking the real ales. In fact, whilst at the bar, a group of three blokes, probably ten or so years older than me, were ordering pints of Foster’s Top! I really do despair at times at the taste (or lack of it) of the great British public!