I’M not narrow-minded and don’t think I’m squeamish, but getting my shoes covered in vomit before I even got through the door should have provided all the warning I needed.
I’d already fought my way through the scaffolding yard masquerading as a car park by the time a huge beast lurched out of The County Oak and threw up over my feet.
By the time the fully track-suited barmaid, with a bandage on her right hand, served me a pint of Kronenbourg I realised this was Shameless meets Celebrity Juice – but without the class of either of these programmes.
The noise and chaos in the main bar was so intense – not to mention the potentially lethal mix of a child chucking darts and an American bulldog that looked like a shire horse – I headed for the deserted middle bar purely on safety grounds.
Sadly it was not a safe zone as one of the neaderthals decided to hurl a red ball into this middle bar and the 26-week-old bulldog, affectionately named RJ, followed it to cause total mayhem.
Things went further downhill when its inebriated owner lurched in to apologise.
Worse still, the inebriated man’s even more drunk mate in an horrendous pink shirt thrust himself forward and demanded to know “What the f**** I was doing in his bar?”
To be fair this was exactly what I was thinking too!
Demanding to know what I was doing here for a second time, he then collapsed across a chair and I took my chance to escape back to the main bar.
The darts had been confiscated and RJ had sneaked behind the counter, so it seemed a safer option.
The noise level was still phenomenal and everyone was completely annihilated by 7pm.
A reddish-headed barmaid supping a Bud ejected RJ from behind the bar and whilst the massive bulldog was by far the friendliest thing in here, and probably the most intelligent, he wasn’t chatty so I had a word with the child who was tearing about.
He slowed down just long enough to tell me his name, that he was seven years old and that his nan owned the pub.
By now the desperate locals had started a game which involved them trying to touch their toes.
The first consequence saw RJ being blamed for a massive fart.
The next saw several collapse to the floor before the man in the offensive pink shirt loudly declared he’d torn something and pulled his trousers down to check. What happened next must go unreported.
I really don’t think there is much more I can say about The County Oak – there are two pool tables and darts though I wouldn’t recommend either as they can only add potential weapons to an already volatile atmosphere.
There is a third bar, which I think can be hired out, but this was closed and locked when I visited – otherwise it might have provided a temporary hiding place.
The colour scheme throughout is horrible, in fact, come to think of it, it may have been this that upset poor RJ’s stomach.
I briefly visited the facilities to leave my calling card and quickly realised it was indeed the only safe haven in the place.
There was no soap in the dispenser but that’s the least of your worries here.
By the time I left someone had thrown a bucket of water over the vomit and Emmerdale had replaced the horse racing on the telly, but what certainly hadn’t changed was the atmosphere in the pub.
It felt just as dangerous and threatening as when I first went in.
You get the distinct impression the locals have been drinking right through the day and probably the night before too.
I’ve been in some rough dives in my time, but I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that I thought it was more likely to kick off at any moment.
If you’re planning a visit here leave your common sense at home and take a couple of minders.
The County Oak, County Oak Avenue, Brighton
(The colour scheme’s not great, but it hides the worst excesses)
(Very little on tap, no decent ale worth considering)
(£4.20 for a pint of Kronie is expensive)
(Terrifying beyond belief)
(It’s dangerous enough without introducing knives and forks)