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I'm not often in Manchester during the day, well not in the centre anyway, but yesterday I had to nip into Piccadilly Station to enable some rail vouchers to be used. Having queued for 20 minutes the idea of a pint seemed an attractive one, though not in the station. That could be dismissed out of hand, as not only is there no cask to be had, but the sheer bland, characterless crappiness and soul destroying emptiness of the places, would make the idea of throwing yourself under the nearest Pendolino an attractive one. Not feeling suicidal, I went elsewhere.

It had started to rain as I walked back and a quick decision had to be made. The City Arms it was. This is a little hidden gem just behind the Town Hall (an inadequate name for a magnificent Victorian edifice by the way) and a welcome oasis after the suits have gone back to work. Small, cosy, old fashioned, with a small front room, a magnificently tiled corridor and a bigger back room with bench seating, it was just what I needed and the type of pub that used to be in every city centre, but nowadays is all too rare. The beer range here isn't that adventurous - think mainly regionals and family brewers - but it's always well kept. I settled on a bench in the back room with a pint of Bateman's Spring Goddess which was a very decent drink. The Bateman's house style was evident, but it's a taste I like, so all was well. There wasn't many in, but I people watched for a bit. A voluble Northern Irish business type and his colleague. A couple of middle aged female shoppers gossiping over a glass of Pinot Grigio, a few at the bar putting the world to rights and just by the door, a racing type, quietly studying the form as he sipped his pint of Tetley. One other inmate chatted conspiratorially with the landlord, whose eyes constantly flicked around, checking all was well. No background music, just people calmly enjoying a respite from whatever.

There is a newspaper rack too and I wandered over to pick up the Guardian. I like its Berliner size, but though I used to buy it daily and haven't really read it for over a decade, somehow it seemed just right. The clock ticked on and my pint slowly diminished as I adjusted to the pace of things and enjoyed a moment that seemed fixed in time. When my pint was eventually emptied, I put the paper back and left.

In this rare case, one pint was just right.

The City Arms is at 46-48 Kennedy Street Manchester M2 4BQ