The mankier the better: Explaining the allure of the grotty student pub
A paean to the humble student watering hole - and the Friday hangover
Friday 24 January 2014
There are many things a student pub should be, and nice isn’t one of them. It should be grotty and grimy. The floor? Sticky. The air? Sweaty. The loos (if you can bear them)? Unsanitary.
If these specifications are intact, if the public house is question is, on a scale of one-to-grim, a solid not-sure-if-I-can-bear-to-use-the-loo, it’s won the battle. There’s something special about a disgusting student pub. The I-know-where-you-went-last-night appeal – always followed by a crumpled expression of guilt – of the student pub, for some reason, is universal. We’ve all been there.
Approximately ninety-five metres from my university’s English department stands a public house called The New Globe. (The Old Globe, should you care, is located less desirably further downstream) The New Globe sits within the delightful square mile of chicken shops. Its immediate neighbour, Dixie Chicken, is a Queen Mary fresher rite of passage. The Golden Fryer, a few units down, offers improved fare, best consumed en route home, blisteringly hot. The mini supermarket "Food and Wine" – its supplies obvious – is another neighbour, opposite the bus stop. These various esteemed locations make up another hundred metres of unadulterated joy, post-3am. Everything is still open, ready to take bleary-eyed custom.
For some years, this state of intoxication – and implicit instigator of many, many drunken videos filmed in Dixie Chicken itself – has come from the aforementioned pub. During my first and second years, New Globe Thursdays were "a thing". As a fresher, it took all of five minutes to walk there from halls, no excuses for missing Thursday nights. The music was good – run by rugby club boys and their various friends – and the night itself, an institution. The class of 2014 were initiated with the Dot Cotton Club on the fourth night of the week; the year before it had been "How’s Your Father".
Looking back, though Thursday nights were a total scream, they weren’t very clean. Drinks offers + open floorboarded pub + fit boys = Friday morning hangover. We loved it for how embarrassingly gross it was. Everyone went to Dixie Chicken, there was no shame.
And then suddenly The New Globe was closed for refurbishment, a cause not considered undue. When it wasn’t open again in September, rumours circulated that it was becoming a bed and breakfast. Total codswallop of course, for who would pay to stay a night next door to Dixie’s? The smell even penetrates the bus windows, half a mile up the road.
When in November last year, flickering of lights could be spotted, people got excited. The watering hole would be populated once more! No more traipsing around finding dodgy institutions of alcoholic consumption under £3! Then the doors opened, and the centre of Romford was projected onto Mile End Road. The New Globe mark two has a pool table, shiny bar stools – one does not simply sit at the bar, one leans, disgracefully! – and chairs with four legs that don’t collapse when you sit down. It has new mirrors and a clock, and no longer are shoes ruined when in contact with the floor. The lights even work! It is on all accounts, pub-like. It’s a normal pub now, not a student pub.
Reports are unconfirmed as to whether the improved New Globe is busy or not. I am yet to see more than a handful in there, but I live in hope that the fine Queen Mary institution will return to its dilapidated state. Freshers deserve more from their Thursday nights than a clean floor and loo doors that close first time.
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