DECOR *** (Basic but hard to complain) DRINK ** (largely limited to lager) PRICE **** (cheap and cheerful) ATMOSPHERE *** (friendly and relaxed) STAFF *** (Irish eyes are smiling)

MAE West once said, “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.” With that in mind I strapped on a stab vest and dressed in Burberry camouflage to visit the newly re-vamped Joiners Arms.

Formerly Dylans — a reference to the owner’s love of Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas — I always remember it being a rather sorry affair.

Frequented by hobos and junkies, it was an Irish pub which, apart from serving the black stuff, was devoid of any of the other lucky charms usually associated with the Emerald Isle.

However, the boozer has now reverted back to its original and historic name, presumably to purge the memory of the former’s less than salubrious past.

With the facade having undergone a face-lift in the form of a lick of fresh green paint and a new sign, there are certainly signs this High Street boozer has turned over a new four leaf clover.

Thankfully, the change didn’t involve the usual soul-sucking refurbishment or a gastro-pub conversion.

Landlord and Hannibal Lecter lookalike James would certainly like you to think so, claiming the spotless interior isn’t the only thing to have been cleaned up.

Wearing an apron and chatting jovially with a couple of punters at the bar, the laid-back Irishman assured me the pub’s seedy reputation is now ancient history, before returning to the kitchen to dish up a cheese omelette for a hungry customer.

Feeling reassured I ordered a cheap and cheerful pint of Young’s before squeezing to the back of the long, thin room and settling down to watch a spot of television.

Apparently the plan is to attract new customers in by showing live sport, but the only athleticism being screened on the TV nearest to me was John Travolta in Grease, thrusting his crotch at Olivia Newton John while singing Summer Nights.

As enlightening as the music channel’s countdown of the ultimate chick flick hits was, something a little more informative or entertaining wouldn’t go amiss.

Despite the new owners, as with my last visit two years, the beer selection is pretty atrocious.

But with a bar this small, it would be a tricky feat to feature more than a couple of ales and lagers on tap.

The Joiners Arms is no longer the den of iniquity some would have had you believe, which in some ways is a disappointment.

There’s nothing like a horror story to sharpen those journalistic claws on.

For everyone else, however, this boozer’s much-needed overhaul means drinking here no longer requires investing in expensive life insurance or a naked run through the nearest car wash to scrub the inevitable grime out of your hair and body.

The Joiners Arms may not be perfect but I found it to be a jolly little leprechaun nonetheless.

And as Stevie Wonder’s gloopy sacharrine love song I Just Called To Say I Love You came on the box, there were tears in my smiling Irish eyes. But whether tears of joy or pain, I couldn’t say.