Kingston Arms (Cambridge)

The man at the bar had the most fantastic nose. If noses could tell stories then this nose would probably have some stories to tell, and would proceed to tell them. Bizarrely, despite the cumulonimbus-esque snout, his face was quiet youthful, as if he channelled all his ageing into a relatively small part of his body in an innovate attempt at defying the ageing process. Bulbous and veiny, potted and scarred – a combination of the noses of Alex Ferguson and Rudolph.

That this man, with his years-of-hard-drinking-won trophy displayed on his face as though it were a big pink mantelpiece, choses to drink in this pub must say something about the place. A place of lock-ins and all-nighters; fighting, swear words, spitting and proper crazy stuff like that. Surely he would take his nose somewhere more fitting if this place did not offer the requisite tom-foolery that a man-nose combo of this calibre obviously requires.

It’s often said (although I’m not sure who by) that you can judge a pub by its patrons. And in completely different circles (possibly medical?) is it commonly understood that you can tell a lot about a person by their nose. It’s logical then that you can tell a great deal about a pub by the noses of those inside.

As my mind processed the above it dawned on me that I could be in for a hostelry highlight here in the CAMRA-recommended Kingston Arms. After allowing reason and sense to infiltrate my mind, I am less sure.

For starters, half of the interior is painted green. Not a soft minty, pastel green. But a dark, strong green that makes you feel like somehow you’re stuck inside a leprechaun’s scrotum. It’s the first pub I’ve ever been in where tables were reserved, despite no food being served. If this is for travelling tourist-like drinkers (like myself) this is pretty flimsy and serves to highlight either the type of wankers that visit Cambridge (like myself)  and feel the need to book a table in a pub or an aggressive band of locals that are one step away from pissing on the door frame on their way out as a means of marking their territory. Either way, thumbs down.

The pub also seems to have jumped on board the Costa/Starbucks/Pret a Manger bla bla bla bandwagon of trying to sell cookies with everything like we all live in some massive episode of the RugRats. Cookies have their place, and it is NOT alongside finger-licking, ramming-your-finger-into-the-corner-of-thepacket-to-get-some-more-crumbs snacks such as the Scampi Fry, Bacon Fry or Pork Scratching.

And my final gripe with this otherwise pleasant pub is that on one of the numerous menus/lists/flyers that are dolloped on every table, a pint is described as an ‘attraction’ of the pub. Whilst not technically wrong – a pint is of course the main attraction of every single pub in the world – there is something unforgivably naff about this…

Are books the attraction of a library? Are meats the attraction of a butchers? Are exercise machines the attraction of a gym? I’d say not. Without these things, all these places are just rooms that people charge you to be in. A bit like museums.


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