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  • Fraser Metcalf

A life in Pubs

Updated: Feb 7

I used to be known for giving directions via Pubs. I had a pretty good grasp of London’s geography, but a terrible memory for road names. What I could remember was Pubs, so it was only natural to use them as reference points…

“Albert Bridge…? OK, go straight on until you get to the Phoenix on your left, go past, take the next right until you get to Coopers, cross over the road until you see the Beehive on your right, turn left there, then turn right, you’ll go past the Phene Arms, turn left again and there’s Albert Bridge.” Simple really. Foolproof? Not always, as naturally some pubs and their locations were as hazy as a craft IPA.

But for the committed pubgoer the passage of life can also be punctuated by the pubs and bars that have kept you company through good times and bad. It starts for me with sunny Sunday lunches as a kid loitering around in the overgrown pub garden of the Hare and Hounds in Osterley while Mum and Dad drank gin and tonics with the grandparents.

We move rapidly on, as a stream of pubs come and go. My first illicitly bought drinks shamelessly served to still uniformed 6th formers in the seedy, subterranean dive bar that was the Nelson in Trafalgar Square. The Lanny (Lansdown) at University where locals and students coexisted in an uneasy truce occasionally broken by the incendiary nature of the local cider. The Phoenix, in Chelsea, where my sporting career reached its apogee with my appointment as captain of the fantastically unsuccessful Pool team. My first proper job in advertising and the long, long, laughing afternoons spent in the Leinster coming up with ‘concepts’. My Sunday night ‘off’, doing the crossword in the New Inn when the kids were small and I was tired. And now, the Wych Elm and the Grey Horse, where I alternate afternoons huddled over a laptop in a quiet corner doing my day job as a copywriter and being accused by locals of playing video games for a living.

I’m sure they won’t be the last establishments that become part of the sticky pub carpet of my life. I have a hankering for an Inn by the sea where men who look like Captain Birdseye prop up the bar telling tales of daring voyages while a roaring fire keeps the cold sea air at bay. Or maybe it’s time to cast my net a bit wider… perhaps even something a little warmer and exotic… like a rustic Greek Taverna overlooking a quiet harbour where fishing boats rock gently on water so clear that they appear suspended in the air. Yes, I think that could work.

One man and his Mythos sounds like a good ending to me.

A Life in Pubs
A life in pubs


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