I WAS preceded into the Fiveways pub by a 15-year-old schoolboy, travelling at a rapid pace, who used the place as a refuge to hide from a group of 14-year-olds who were chasing him and trying to steal his bike.

Fearing for his safety the barmaid didn’t ask him to leave straight away, though he did have to go – I have no idea whether dashing into the boozer delayed him being beaten up or not, hopefully he got away.

After this initiation it seemed apt to start with a pint of Bonkers Conkers, a 4.1 per cent offering from the Westgate Brewery.

Two of the four beers on tap were off anyway.

After a short discussion with her manager the barmaid decided Bonkers wasn’t too cloudy and was just about fit to be served.

In hindsight this was a hasty decision.

At best it was a pint of nothingness that seemed even more watery as it went on, at worst it had a sour taste, was hazy and as flat as a pancake.

There were a stack of screens showing a variety of unimportant sporting drivel, but this didn’t stop one old boy from shouting at the screen so, as the rain had stopped, I decided to leave him to it and look outside.

The small garden at the side had a mixture of old and new furniture, the fence and gate had been blown over and the weeds were coming through, but there was still a big old weatherproofed screen on the wall.

Though it was too chilly for anyone to be out there shouting at it.

The shouter inside had moved on, as did another regular called Martin straight afterwards – he was bid a fond farewell as the barmaid shrieked “see ya tomorrow”.

It’s clear a large number of Fiveways’ punters come in every day and are firm fixtures in the place – in fact, I’ve never visited a pub with tables occupied by so many solitary male figures either peering gloomily into their pint, scanning a newspaper, or just staring blankly into the distance.

The place is clearly designed and set up for viewing the footie and I imagine that when there’s a big game on the place gets packed and lively.

If sport isn’t showing it’s a very different story.

That said, a pool table has been installed at one end and they’re clearly proud of it as someone has taken the trouble to make sure it stays covered when not in use.

Other than that, there’s just a couple of fruit machines.

The barmaid, who’s been behind the bar at this Greene King pub for two years now, came back in from having a fag to serve me and was apologetic for leaving me waiting while she puffed away.

I swiftly rejected the ‘bonkers’ idea of repeating my earlier error and chose the much safer option of a Camden Hells, even though at £5.50 I did have to pay fairly heavily for the privilege.

At this point I was joined by far the most colourful character I saw in the place – I didn’t catch his name, but the combination of camouflage trousers and an entire landscape carved into the back of his hairdo made him memorable.

And, as if this wasn’t enough, he then turned into Dom Jolly and strode off screaming “hello darling” unfeasibly loudly into his phone.

I don’t think he returned, I certainly didn’t see, or hear, him again.

There isn’t a great deal more to let you know about the place.

It’s feels basically very brown with a number of heavy tables and benches.

If you’re not interested in the screens there is plenty of traffic to watch through the windows and it looks as if there have been a few recent efforts to improve the place – the most impressive is the introduction of trendy clear light shades containing old fashioned looking lightbulbs.

Then I received another nostalgic flashback when the sound system started pumping out Kajagoogoo’s immortal words: “Too shy shy, hush hush, eye to eye”.

I chose this moment to pop to the gents and was greeted by what looked like a swimming pool.

It was difficult to say exactly what was leaking and where the main flow was coming from, though the left hand urinal had been partially covered and tied up with a black bin bag.

I made my way to the driest spot and just hoped there weren’t fractured pipes which meant I’d be adding to the deluge.

This was my first visit to Fiveways and I’m not sure there’s any way I’ll be tempted to return any time soon.

The pub’s a fair size and might look different packed with footie fans, but it’s generally bland and uninviting – I really can’t see the attraction.

Fiveways – 292 Ditchling Road, Brighton BN1 6JG

Decor: ★★ Some trendy lightbulbs have been added, but there still much to be improved upon.

Drink: ★ Bonkers Conkers is well named, avoid and pay the price for Hell.

Price: ★★ The bitter certainly wasn’t worth £4.05, and the Camden Hell is steep at £5.50.

Atmosphere: ★★ Even camouflage trousers and Dom Jolly couldn’t brighten liven this one up.

Staff: ★★★ A warm welcome and cheery enough, shame about the fag break.

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