Oh dear, what is becoming of pubs these days? I'd never been in the Grafton before as when I was passing I was always going somewhere else and although it never looked univiting it never really looked very inviting either. Just bog standard lager & Sky. Then it closed down for a couple of months, new managers... new ideas. Hmmm.
Apparently they'd spent a hell of a lot of money on the decor. Obviously this needs recoping as quickly as possible which they are doing by cutting electricity bill by having the pub in almost complete darkness, even when it's still light outside. Then to help a bit more they are charging an eye-watering £3.85 a pint for very ordinary ales. My London Stone wasn't even very nice. I think they're also saving money by employing gormless bar-staff. "Three-eighty-five?!" I exclaimed to the fresh-faced floppy haired young barman in his black pub-logo'd t-shirt, he replied with a wide-eyed excited nodded grin, which seemed to be saying "Brilliant!".
Any electricty savings made by having no lights must have been negated by having the music very loud. Why on earth do publicans think that people want to sit in a pub with such loud music? There would not be one fewer person in here if they had no music. I'm sure someone at some point will suddenly realise and say "Hang on... what's this music for? Oh, to entertain the bar-staff."
As I passed the couple so bored of each-other's company they take their laptops to the pub with them, or they've had their usual unsecured wifi access from down the road suddenly password protected - the swines! - I encountered a piano. Always a nice sight in a pub. "Do you have people playing that?" I asked another barman,
"No, why - do you play?" he said.
"Not me, but I know a lady who does who might be interested for a quid and a couple of pints."
"Oh great - what's her name?"
I tell the man the pianist's name.
"Cool thanks" he says and then just wanders off without any attempt to write it down or ask for any contact details. I see.
The toilets are adorned with old Beanos and the like. Oh you quirky things you!
By the loo a notice invited me to COME UPSTAIRS AND LOOK AT OUR FUNCTION ROOM! which I did. As I peered round the door, sat on the floor (I think) in the middle of a large and sparsely furnished room was a young 'person' with some DJ-type equipment blaring out Massive Attack (I know these things) so loudly it drowned out the racket from downstairs. He looked up and saw me and triumphantly punched the air with both hands, like a victorious cyclist or an angry chimp. Or a knob. I closed the door and left him to it.
I was already fed up with this place, but tried to find a spot of light to carry on doing my crossword. The place was so dark they need candles behind the bar. Well, obviously they don't need them but they look cool and trendy and sophisticated. Young modern types don't want pubs with electric lights! They want gloom and candles because they want to look cool and trendy and sophisticated.
Everywhere I looked something depressed me about here. A clothing exchange?? De riguer Sunday roasts, but no beef?! Children welcomed until 7pm, a nice effort, but it was 7.30pm when I left and there was still at least half a dozen little screamers running about.
It was very busy, although it was Saturday and I'm sure there was new-pub-novelty value, but I predict now that this place won't get any bar-propping regulars, which is the sign of a poor pub. They'll all be down the road at the Tapping the Admiral. Or any number of nicer, less so-desperate-to-cool places within a 10 minute walk. This place is hard Graft! (See what I did there?)