“This next question is for you, Rob.”
A chill raced down my spine. I saw Andy look at me from the opposite bench. You can do this, said the look on his face. You're a genius. You're an intellectual powerhouse. You're everything I wish I could be.
I took heart from those unspoken words of encouragement and, gripping the wooden table until my knuckles turned white, nodded to Pete.
“To date, how many pubs have you visited during Pubquest?”
I reeled backwards in shock, almost falling from my seat. We were in the beer garden of the
Riverside pub, deep into the second phase
of our interview with the founder of Sheffield
Ale Pubs, and Pete had just wheeled out the big guns.
“Well, that's a great question,” I said, clearly playing for time. I only had a rough idea of the number and couldn't pin down any precise figures. I thought back to every political interview I'd ever seen where the politician didn't know the data. It was time to let loose my inner Mandelson. “That depends on how you're counting the figures,” I explained.
I then launched into a discussion about how there were a number of pubs we'd visited that hadn't yet been recorded on our blog, which meant that the number Pete had jotted down on his answer pad was probably incorrect.
Andy 'Alastair Campbell' Wilson then jumped in, further muddying the waters by informing Pete that a number of pubs had been visited on multiple occasions, which made it doubly difficult to calculate a precise figure. Between myself and the party spin doctor, we did a decent job of saying a lot while simultaneously saying nothing.
Sensing that we were somewhat overcomplicating a simple, friendly question, I cut through the fog and said: “Let's call it 140 pubs”.
Silence hung over the studio/beer garden for a moment, before Pete smiled at me and said “correct!”.
I sighed with relief. The day was actually shaping up very nicely indeed. The sun was shining down on us, the
outdoor seating – right next to the river itself - was especially pleasant, and
the two pints of Laima's Luck that me and Andy had ordered were going down
extremely well. Riverside
We both liked the
it was hard not to. Like all of the pubs in the Riverside
scene, it offered a good collection of real ales in a lovely setting.
Admittedly, the pub is a little less impressive in winter, when the fantastic
outdoor area isn't brought into play, but it's still a great venue
nevertheless. Kelham Island
The questions kept on coming and, now having a bit more beer inside us, we found the process of answering them to be increasingly straightforward and, surprisingly, enjoyable.
We recounted how the journey had began at the Royal Standard, all the way back in 2012. We reflected on our lives since then and the ways in which we'd grown as people. We reviewed some of the highs and mulled over a few of the lows. We thought about the incredible journey we'd undertaken and the mark it had left on us; mentally, physically, spiritually.
“So, yeah,” I summarised, as the last few dregs of beer vanished from my glass. “We've spent a fortune, hammered our livers, expanded our waistlines, wasted hundreds of hours, accrued countless hangovers, and we still have about 300 pubs to go.”
Andy picked up the empty glasses and headed over to the bar. “We'd better get moving then”.
Pub: The Riverside (
) 1 Mowbray Street, S3 8EN
Pint: Laima's Luck
Brewery: Black Iris Brewery (Shipstone,