With it’s magnificent floral display and the turn of the century listed interior I should have really liked this place. I’m not sure whether it was the £5.50 for a pint of everyday beer or the fact that it was full of tourists which put me off?
I didn’t venture into the upstairs dining room or downstairs, only visiting the main bar whose ornate, heavy wooden bar-back is inscribed with the date of 1900 . I knew it was one of the pubs with a Division Bell, but as I sat nursing my pint of Fullers Bengal Lancer I was beggared if I could see a bell anywhere. And anyway the foreign tourists were more than sufficient entertainment.
I had the couple in front of me, munching away on their bar meal with open mouths, down as exceptionally large Japanese folk, until they started to speak something not Japanese sounding. I’ve always found Japanese people quite polite and courteous. Not these.
The chap started barking ‘Come Here!’, ‘Come Here!’ Loudly across the room at the manager, before trying to pay him in a mixture of Pounds, Euros and ‘I can’t take them, I’ve no idea what they are mate’.
I politely waited until the busy manager had a moment and enquired about the Division Bell? Two of them hiding inside their own wooden belfries on the very top of the bar-back. You could only really see them if you leaned forward over the counter. No one else did. Tourists? Pah. I wouldn’t have gone in otherwise. There’s plenty more quieter pubs in London with flowers that’s also in the London Pub Group historic interiors inventory.
They were quite a few other CAMRA lobbyists in the pub, lads who ran pubs in St Albans, who I later chatted with at the main event. A couple of blokes in front of me chatting over what I thought was a very scoddy portion of Fish and Dirks. ‘Yes, I am a CAMRA member but I don’t go to meetings or anything like that.’ Yes, but you bothered to come down to London mate and that’ll do for me.
Chastened by the cost of my, to be fair about NBSS 3- pint I didn’t bother to ask about the cost of a dinner and wandered off to eat what was left of my sarnies in Victoria Tower Gardens, it’s funny how sandwiches always seem to have a taste of Bananas after being wrapped up for a few hours, even though they’d never been near any? And where did the chunks of meat in the Morribogs Coronation Chicken sandwich filler disappear to? And why is it always a coat warmer in London?