.. soon you’ll be sliding down the razor blade of life, sang Tom Lehrer, but that’s not the way it happens with good pubs. Some remarkably hang on for decades. Some move upmarket, some downmarket. Some take pride in their knowledge and range of beer and food. Some have a genuine feeling of neighbourhood, even if they are just of busy streets in busy cities.
I used to have a favourite pub in London. I don’t know the first time I was there. Let’s say 25 years ago. Then it had two entrances. The public bar was to the left, where regulars enjoyed their pint of Young’s Special. There was a shelf for swapping paperbacks, there was friendly chatter and a relaxed atmosphere. Just around the corner from one of the best Waterstone’s bookshops in London – a place to linger for more then one pint.
Through the right door you entered the main bar and dining area. Friendly and fine as well, but a bit less casual, more pinstripes than tweed, perhaps. Same range of beers, but the customers were quite likely to have a bottle of claret instead.
Over the years, the pub has gone through several refurbishments, ripping out walls and giving it all a slicker feel. The pub atmosphere has gone. I’m sure you can have a beer if you walk over to the bar, but it’s generally table service now.
But they still had some pride in their Young’s ales.
That seems to be history, too. The e-mailed me about their latest promotion the other day. They have sold themselves to Peroni. Peroni!
We’ve teamed up with Peroni Nastro Azzurro,to bring you our very own take on L’Aperitivo di Peroni. Buy two pints of Peroni or a bottle of El Coto wine and get 50% off pizza or an indoor picnic.
I click through to their web site, and there is nothing there to lighten my mood. A full range of the usual suspects is greeting you on their main page. Kronenbourg. Fosters. Heineken. (Imported, proclaims the beer engine. Wow!) Scrumpy Jack. Guinness. No cask ales were present when the photo was taken.
It was just this we feared when Young’s merged with Wells’ and ceased to exist except as a brand name, wasn’t it, guys?
Luckily I’ve found other watering holes in London. No need to be on their mailing list any longer.