I wasn’t going to stop at another pub on the run between the George and Dragon and my bus stop, but the absolute oddness of the exterior of the Southgate Inn as I crested the hill compelled me inside. Seen from the street with the German beer sign out front and the white plastering I could imagine a continental ale house; and, then when I reached the entrance I was certain this was not to be missed:
I was right, too, as they had several real ales on offer and the bar was lined with CAMRA folks (I even spoke for a while with a founder of the local branch who tipped me off to the upcoming branch pub crawl). The barmaid asked everyone to remind her that she had a chicken roasting and then obliquely said to me, “you look like Harry Potter.”
“Yeah, I know, the jagged scar on my forehead.”
“Yes, that and the glasses. It’s not a BAD thing,” she went on and I was left to wonder what sort of strange fantasies this woman was looking to fulfill.
“It’s not a bad thing except when you’re 50 years old and you look like Harry Potter. Oh, right, you have a chicken in the oven.”
My accent was discussed and that, no, I’m not on holiday but live in Swindon. “You’re a long way from home, then?” “No, the bus takes less than an hour.” “To Georgia?” “Oh, right. It’s not home anymore. I haven’t been there in years.”
After the Glue Pot, this is easily one of my favourite Wiltshire pubs and as I settled down near the pickled eggs with my Hopback she asked if I drank in the Glue Pot while in Swindon. “Frequently. It rules.” “Then you’re familiar with the Hopback beers?” “Mmm, hmm. If I see them on tap and I want a sure thing, I always get one.” As should you.
Oh, if you read this, don’t forget the chicken.