The British Boozer Bounces Back

For years now the British pub has been in decline, due to two key factors; the economy of drinking supermarket brands at home and the real estate value of pubs, which are usually on corners, have huge basements and three floors. Most older streets in London had at least one pub on them. You can […]

Pubs: A Boy Thing?

The BFI has released a double DVD set called ‘Roll Out the Barrel: the British pub on film’, a collection of 20 films about British pubs made between 1944 and 1982. From wartime documentaries intended to keep up flagging spirits to independent productions exploring the permissive society of the 1960s, the five-hour collection reveals cultural […]

What’ll You Have?

I’m not entirely sure whether she’s a real barmaid, but she’s definitely not from around here. This is apparently the modern equivalent to the traditional ‘busty barmaid’ of yore, now slimmed down and underdressed for modern tastes. Like her predecessor she does, however, have a bewildering array of drinks to serve. And just when you […]

The Start Of The British Pub Revival?

How did London go from having famously bad food to topping world cuisine charts? After the war, Associated British Cafeterias (ABCs) sought to provide cheap meals for those on rations and drastic budgets, because the government was concerned about malnourishment. This is the period we now look back at with horror; when half a grapefruit […]

The Duplicity of Walking in London

I spend too much of my life underneath London. But yesterday was one of those days that blasted through every possibility in the English weather lexicon, from soaking drizzle to blazing sunshine and windstorms. Obviously the ideal day for a city walk. Starting at King’s Cross, I headed to Clerkenwell and the city, stopping at […]

Dickens Turns 200: A Celebration

To celebrate the bicentennial of the Great Victorian who has inspired countless generations of writers (and made most of them inconsequential by comparison) London is hosting all kinds of Dickens events, from Christmas events at the Charles Dickens house at 48 Doughty Street to ‘Dickens and London’ at the Museum of London. This week’s Time […]

London Eccentrics: Tom & Roxy

This is an occasional series on London’s odder inhabitants. My pal Paco was looking for a Holborn pub or bar in which to hold a directors’ meeting (they’re vintners), and I recommended ‘The Seven Stars’, which appears in my novel ‘The Victoria Vanishes’. Paco ended up being in there for about five hours; it’s that […]

More London Boozers

The Castle pub in Cowcross Street, Farringdon is the only pub in London to have its own pawnbrokers’ licence. A refreshingly down-to-earth Farringdon boozer, it was once frequented by King George IV, who was tempted in by a spot of cockfighting. Arriving without money, he promptly issued the pub with a pawnbroker’s licence and handed […]

The Pub Sing-Song Returns

With London’s pubs still vanishing at an incredible speed (usually due to the fact that pubs are dream real estate; they sit on corners and have three or four floors and huge basements) the landlords are fighting back. My friend Simon is the manager of The Pineapple in Kentish Town, and has re-instated a number […]

London’s Most Eccentric Pubs: The Windsor Castle

No picture does justice to this bonkers boozer just off Baker Street. Every inch is crammed with framed photographs of royals and celebrities (if you can remember back far enough to count Dickie Henderson as a celebrity). There’s a shrine to George Best, glass cabinets and enough fairings to fill every gift shop in Blackpool. […]