AS THE saying goes, it’s all fur coat and no knickers – if ever there was a pub pretending to be something it is not, then it has to be The Jolly Poacher on Ditchling Road.

So many of these copycat, wannabe trendy pubs they seem to think stripping the woodwork back, painting the walls in colours which allow them to up the prices and adopting an ambivalent attitude to customers will have cash pouring across the bar.

Creating something which looks remarkably like the inside of a sauna with an occasional grey wall and having bar staff who don’t know what they’re doing isn’t a recipe for success.

The approach from outside is about as unattractive as it gets but once you’ve carefully negotiated your way round the bins and the planters full of weeds you hope the effort will be worth it. I must have been looking longingly at the beer pumps because the first thing I was told was: “We haven’t got any beer it’s not on”.

But the weather was warm and looking around I’d already decided I’d be better off outside so, undaunted, I switched to lager much earlier in proceedings than I normally would.

It was only after she poured the pint of incredibly cloudy Staropramen that I was informed: “I started at noon and the gasman was due, but he hasn’t been yet”.

Despite this I was assured the Star would clear and be fine – it didn’t, she was wrong and foolishly I decided to battle through it. I took a seat outside under the very obvious To Let sign and did my best to avoid the smell from the bins outside the shop next door.

Being the Summer Solstice the sun was still warm and bright but the proximity of the traffic and an uneven pavement, not to mention my duty to spy the establishment fairly and fully, took me back inside – where at least the smell would be better.

To be fair, in the bar it was, but down the beautiful spiral staircase in the lower level gents it most decidedly was not. And that’s what I mean about the place trying to be something it’s not.

You get a metal staircase straight out of Grand Designs and the toilets have even had a decent paint job, but they absolutely reek. I was hopeful it was a sign the ‘gasman’ had finally turned up but I think it was just the drains.

A decent pub concentrates on the important things and isn’t obsessed by the frippery – this one has large, unnecessary wicker sculptures and a multitude of twee sayings like ‘Wine a bit and you’ll feel better’.

I felt like whining when I switched to my go-to-always-a-safe-bet Kronenbourg but was supplied with another lacklustre, cloudy pint and the barmaid’s uninformed assurance it tasted okay.

Seeking to be an on-trend bar there is no room for anything so uncouth as a fruit machine, pool table, jukebox or quiz machine though I did spot an arbitrary dartboard back left in the bar - again, it looked like window dressing and fairly unused.

On the right there was a small box of old newspapers – ninety per cent of which were The Sun, with an odd Mirror dotted among them – no sign of an Argus anywhere.

Even the dog bowl was pretending – it was so small it was either for visiting cats or for those trendy handbag-style dogs that are carried in baskets.

At this stage we were joined by another member of staff who did at least show some concern at her colleague’s lack of knowledge and seemed to make some effort to track down a phone number for the man who delivers the gas.

She was also interested when the three scaffolders came in for a well-deserved beverage – seriously I can’t believe how many scaffolders there are in this city or are they following me around? These latest fellows were from Independent Scaffolding and were clearly not afraid to break the mould. First, the bald guy with his sunnies on his head started raving about a pint of lime and soda before he and his mate took it upon themselves to sing Barbie Girl to the barmaid.

From what I could tell this related to the fact she’d told them she was naturally blond but had gone brunette because her boyfriend preferred them and even produced a picture to prove the point. She was clearly more knowledgeable on hair colour than she was beer.

There is nothing jolly about this one, I know there’s a shortage of carbon dioxide out there, but they still need to track down the gasman.

The spiral staircase might look great to Kevin McLeod, but after one cloudy pint of lager too many be careful you don’t end up nose first in a wicker sculpture.

The barmaid was nice enough with the scaffolders but didn’t have a clue what she was doing.

As I left the whiff of aromatic herbs from the tables at the side of the pub was certainly an improvement on the niffs from the front and down below.