When a barman suggests Pepsi as a substitute for orange juice, you know you’re not exactly in The Ritz – almost the opposite, in fact.

I’m also sure you wouldn’t be greeted by an old man humming the Colonel Bogey March (or the Hitler, he only had one ball song, as I like to call it), in anywhere other than a Wetherspoon pub.

But we weren’t expecting anything grand when we wandered over to good old Sovereign of the Seas in Petts Wood for some cheap lunch.

Moving past the flashing fruit machines and pickled retirees, we struggled to find a seat thanks to the ever-popular Wednesday Club – a social group for over 65s set up by News Shopper.

This special club has helped a huge number of people find new friends, and has apparently lent a hand in transforming the formerly “disgraceful” toilets (according to my learned friend).

After seeing photographic evidence of the newly stunning men’s room, I was disappointed we couldn’t go and eat in there instead.

We were forced to settle for one of the high-up tables, although I wasn’t filled with equally high hopes when I overheard one gent ask his lady friend to sit at one, and she replied simply: “Get out.”

Praying I wouldn’t fall off the ridiculously thin perch, I was thankful to see each meal on the menu is accompanied by its calorie content – an incredibly useful feature when New Year’s resolutions are still on the cards.

I ordered the Superfood Whole-wheat Pesto Pasta with chicken (£6.59 and 770 calories), which supposedly came with mixed peppers, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, soya beans, broccoli, sugar snap peas and red onion.

Unfortunately though, I could only make out bits of tomato and peas and, for all its promises, it tasted as bland as cardboard.

My friends’ naughty burgers looked much tastier.

“I feel like my face is going to go right into my food”, my colleague said, commenting on the awkward position of our tabletop.

“It’s like being a prisoner of war in a stress position.”

And he was right.

We all demonstrated how easy it would be to eat without our hands by pecking like hens – I took comfort in the fact no-one was paying any attention to us, least of all our boss who was sitting nearby with his brood.

After almost an hour in the seat of horrors, my back could take no more.

It’s a shame I hadn’t been drinking to dull the aches.

Luckily for those of you who are free to drown your sorrows in the daytime, there are plenty of ales, lagers and ciders to choose from – and wine on tap – all at wonderfully low prices.

And don’t forget to indulge in a posh toilet break.

The Sovereign of the Seas, 109-111 Queensway, Petts Wood, BR5 1DG

Decor *** (rough around the edges but posh loo)

Drink *** (plenty of lovely, cheap beer)

Price **** (good value)

Food ** (tasteless)

Atmosphere *** (welcoming and friendly)

Staff *** (young and cheerful)