By Michael Skywood Clifford.
One of the more interesting pubs in Worcester for the serious ale drinker is 'The Plough', situated on the corner of Fish Street in the city centre, a stones throw away from the cathedral. It has a sign outside advertising: 'Sparkling perry and ciders; Real ales; Fine malts; Beer garden; Somewhat odd conversations'.
I don't think I have been in there very often when I have not had an odd conversation! I recall discussing the history and language of film, the illustrations of Ralph Steadman and the type of public address systems used in modern major pop festivals. And each fired up in seconds with complete strangers. It is a haven for real ale drinkers, with emphasis on the pale ales, regularly featuring Salopian, Church End, Purple Moose, Malvern, Oakham's and many interesting breweries on that I have never come across in the East Midlands.
You approach the bar which is up some steps and at the end of the small entrance. Standing on white flowerheads with 8 petals printed on black lino, you order your beer from Matt, Dan or Nick. Sometimes there is a bit of nervousness at the bar. The room on the left has green and red Indian patterned carpet and scruffy mint-green upholstery. Around and above are pictures of cricket grounds and modern art. In the corner are caskets of famous whiskeys. A chalked blackboard advertises live music and the moderately volumed music is distinctly off beat and Indie. The circular beer tables have those type of sewing machine iron legs associated with traditional pubs. Opposite the bar, a mantelpiece is loaded with reference books: encyclopaedia, glossaries, dictionaries. A framed bottle of a Lea and Perrin's Worcester Sauce takes pride of place above the fireplace. A gable hangs over the bar containing dusty wine bottles. Everyday the Daily Telegraph (and sometimes another newspaper too) is on the bar.
The room on the right has about the same number of seats but has more doors. A black one leads to the outside yards with tables, overlooking one of the main roads that circle around Worcester town centre. In this room are more liquor caskets: Ardbeg, Bushmil's Malt, Coal 11a, Highland Park, Glen Morangue, Port Charlotte. Over the coal-eating oven-type heater are more branded beer bottles: Slug Goose, Sun Comes In Late, Afternoon from East. Next to the black fire are big kilner jars with no corks. Beer mats advertise Kiavers brewers. An ultra violet fly eater sits waiting to devour. The pub seems to be a haven for various: academics, bearded pensioners, musicians, oddballs, upper class toffs, ramblers and CAMRA members. Even though many women go in there, it feels very much like a man's pub.