PUBSPY: Sutton Arms, Sutton
4:30pm Wednesday 18th January 2012 in Pub Spy
It is a commonly-accepted notion among those who know me that I am a miserable sod.
Be it a work gathering, a social outing or a family party, my response to any such activity will be, at best, underwhelming.
And so it is with drinking.
Now, please do not misunderstand me, I like a drink. In fact, I really like a drink. However, when it comes to travelling further than I can stumble home before getting my hands on a pint, then I resort to my traditional standpoint of stubborn opposition.
So I drink in Sutton. For Sutton is where I live and work.
Sadly, this means more often than not, I drink alone, as work colleagues and friends are hugely reluctant to what I like to think of as London's best borough due to a preconceived impression of Sutton as being some rough, dirty place full of equally-disgusting pubs.
The Sutton Arms though has always been a favourite watering hole of mine.
In fact, when suggested to a former colleague some months ago as a possible drinks venue, she replied that she would never visit "that horrible pub".
So I was left alone while my colleagues travelled to Wimbledon, Clapham, or some other overrated place they call "trendy".
Now though, the Sutton Arms version 2.0 has been unveiled.
An extensive revamp has breathed new life into the bar, the seating, even the outside spaces.
My welcome as I walked through the door was warm, perhaps a little too warm for a misery like me, but even I found myself chatting to a barmaid I had never encountered before.
And when I returned to the bar, she remembered what I had ordered, although that is no great achievement in a typical chain pub where the choice of beers on offer is limited at best; the usual stock lagers, ciders and three ales.
However, they are all reasonably priced and who can argue with a smile from the staff, even if it is returned with what can best be described as a grimace?
I retired to one of the new padded booths, suited best perhaps to a group of female workers retiring for a bottle of wine or three - perhaps that was just my wish that evening - or a group of mates heading out for a few drinks and something reasonably-priced to eat.
A far cry from the regular congregation of football fans for whatever game was on that day, when I avoided the place as much as possible.
So, those who avoid Sutton, former colleagues and friends included, if it's decent fodder and a few beers you're after, ditch Wimbledon and Clapham and head to Sutton High Street.
DECOR: XXXXX A revamp brings it bang up to date
DRINK: XXX Standard chain pub fare
PRICE: XXXX Cheaper than many others nearby
ATMOSPHERE: XXX Getting rid of football is a step in the right direction
STAFF: XXX Wait can be longer than necessary