Update as of October 2011: this place is now under new management. Original piece published July 2010.
SevenStreets had a tough morning yesterday, and was in dire need of a liquid lunch with colleagues whilst stranded in the backwaters of Willaston, Cheshire.
Accompanied by Colleague A and Colleague B we navigated bumpy, sparse roads until we came across The Nags Head, situated slap bang in the middle of nowhere. We’ve been once before – on the day of the second England World Cup group game against Algeria – where some bickering and in-fighting behind the bar over the television led to a serious delay before we could whet our whistles and move on.
The ‘passion’ from that evening, sadly, wasn’t evident yesterday. Short of dollar and with the nearest cash point miles away, SevenStreets asked what the minimum spend was we could put on a card. A shrug from the gent behind the bar and a reluctance to find out left we as confused as he. Time to pick something from the menu and hope for the best. Ham and cheese panini and a Strongbow please – that’ll be £8.30.
Colleague A ordered a cheese sandwich and a Coke. Colleague B sniggered as the till rang up over a thousand-pound bill. Blustered, the barman finally got the correct price up – a staggering £6.75, and five more minutes eaten out of our holy lunch hour. Not a pleasant start, but maybe it’s because it was Friday afternoon and we needed to be back in the office sooner rather than later. Basic manners and blunders were disappointing though, especially as the only other guests were three people risen by Jesus himself (and who looked incredibly close to being welcomed into his arms again very soon).
We relaxed with our drinks and watched the muted golf on the TV, commenting on Daly’s ludicrous luminous green hat and pink tracksuit bottoms. We did so again about ten minutes later and were exasperated enough to bring it up after another twenty, nervously checking the time.
Colleague A got up to cancel the order just as the staff appeared with our food, finely balanced on nan’s best wedding china. “12 chips!” exclaimed Colleague B, a little bit like Rain Man, as his pricey bacon toastie was placed before him – a strip of bacon between two squashed pieces of bread. He didn’t mean 12 chips in the crockery by the way, he meant on the plate – of the previously frozen variety. SevenStreets had abundantly more, which was a bit unfair (we’re no fans of portion control either, but that’s hardly the way to make a point). Not that we had much time left to enjoy them anyway. Colleague A’s cheese sandwich, in case you’re wondering, was two pieces of white bread with grated cheese on it, accompanied by salad. From a bag. “Cheers,” we half-heartedly saluted as we trudged out the door, out of pocket and ultimately unfulfilled.
It’s a sad statistic that most pubs don’t survive past their first year of trading. The Nags Head needn’t worry though, as it has a complete monopoly on the Willaston area. And Willaston can keep it.
The Nags Head
Hooton Road, Willaston, Neston, Merseyside
— John Meadowcroft is a Wirral based journalist and copywriter.