A local crawl tonight, taking in those pubs within (depending on your level of fitness) walking distance before jumping the bus for more exotic fare. There has been some discussion recently on "traditional" pubs etc, and two pubs on the crawl are quite interesting in that respect. Both are on Walmersley Road, Bury. The Cricketers is a small, mid-terrace, boozer, of the kind that is becoming rare in Bury. It's now basically a lounge and a pool area. Once a Whitbread house, it served cask for many years and had a good, local, following. An old school pub, it has a back door that leads into the streets behind, handily away from prying eyes and the main road. This use to prove very useful not only for exiting a lock-in, but early admission on Sundays. Only to watch the sport, you understand.
Across the road lies the Towler. Once a Websters house, it has a large car park and use to draw a completely different clientele to that of the Cricks. Although both were locals pubs (and smokey with it), the Cricks had a younger audience, whilst the Towler was much more sedate. Interestingly, although the Towler was always cask, and had more choice, it was always pretty tame stuff, like Websters. The Cricks, post Whitbread, just had Holts, but usually in good nick. Then the Cricks crashed-a couple of short term landlords, no cask, odd hours and its reputation was shot. Plus, times were changing, and people were less inclined to stick to locals and gravitating towards Bury. Meanwhile, the Towler continued on merrily, but if you thought this was the parable of the tortoise and the hare, you'd be wrong.
Fast forward and the Cricks has steadied, but not really improved. It is one that is suffering from the smoking ban, but thats because its got little else going for it. Meanwhile. the Towler has been transformed. The tortoise has become the hare, or whatever you want to call it. Knowing the smoking ban was coming in, it had a major refit. It became the first non-smoking pub in Bury, built on an extension to cater for all day food, and replaced sedate seating with sofa and chairs. It's got more of a bar feel now, which is unusual for a local, but it still is a pub. It serves two real ales. Ok, only Theakstons and the dreadful OSH, but you can still go in and drink without any pressure to eat. Some of the locals have been scared away, but there is now a hardcore building up who appreciate what the Towler can offer. Interestingly, it appears both pubs now have the same private owner, but he wishes to keep them separate in style and clientele. A mistake in my book, as the Cricks needs something to stop it going the way of many Walmersley pubs. As always cask beer would be a good start.
And the answer to the title question? No. Apparently people were running outside awaiting armageddon as the earthquake ravaged the country. Me, I was sleeping soundly. Obviously the sign of a clean conscience. Or a shedload of ale...