"A LOCAL pub for local people" would be the way cult television series League of Gentleman would describe the huge pub placed at the main cross roads leading to Rickmansworth ..... or beyond to Denham.

Unlike the corner shop depicted in the TV programme The Cross has quite a nice atmosphere.

It would not come in the top ten places you would head for on a first date, but for the people dotted around tables in each of its two bars the darts board and pool table, along with fruit machine and Sky TV offered ample amusement.

It was a nice change to see the dart board [surrounded by photographs depicting past triumphs of the pub team] being used.

And I could have almost cried into my Guinness as a father came in and played pool with his very young son so small the cue towered above him.

His father asked him before proceeding: "Are we playing serious?"

"Yes" was the little boys reply, followed by "what does that mean?"

The worldly wise dad replied, using colourful language, by saying he was going to kick his son's backside

The barmaid sat chatting easily with a group of older women while workmen in the adjacent bar enjoyed a quiet well earned after-work pint.

There is none of the pretence you get with some of the flashy places nearer to town. The bar staff were polite enough to apologise for interrupting my order to answer the telephone, and seemed to deal with the customers as if they genuinely liked them, rather than simply parroting phrases such as "have a nice day" gleaned from a management manual.

As I said, you would not bust a gut to go there but the cheap drink offers and food served all day until 8pm, may tempt me in for an after-work pint.

And I would definitely pop in to kick someone's backside on the pool table if I lived nearby.