A panegyric on past pubs

I was lucky enough to work in pubs for 20 years. I love pubs dearly and this Bank Holiday weekend my thoughts have been of the staff who aren’t able to work, the locals who aren’t able to socialise, the dogs who aren’t getting their extra ‘walk’, the brewers and food suppliers who’ve lost their customers, the publicans who don’t know how to plan for what’s next.

It got me thinking about all the pubs I’ve been lucky enough to work in over the years. It’s a reasonably long list, 19 in total, although admittedly a few may only have been a shift or two. I have fond memories of every pub I had an after-work drink in. Here are a few of those memories, and what I was likely drinking when I made them…

Red Lion (AKA The Blue Red Lion), Great Bowden 1996 – 97
First pub job at 16, holiday work in the kitchen. Pot Wash and plating their famous salad garnish with 50 ingredients including baked beans and strawberries! Drank Kilkenny after work.

Shoulder of Mutton, Great Bowden 1998 – 99
First bar job. A great bunch of regulars and locals. One Christmas Day lock in got so out of control, people slept all over the pub including the landlady if the neighbouring Red Lion. Woke them up with Jonny and Denise ‘Especially for You’ at full blast so we could get them out and get ready for Boxing Day hunt drinks at 8am. Drank Fosters and Becks.

Kings Head, Kibworth 1998
Only lasted about 4 shifts. Landlord had a rude and patronising manner resulting in me throwing a cloth at him and telling him to clean his own fucking tables. Landlady felt bad and paid me in full for the shift and poured me a pint to drink with my mates while he closed down himself. Lager I think…

Welland Lodge, Market Harborough 1998
Just a summer job doing lunch shifts. All I remember was cutting fruit and the smell of stale beer… It’s no longer a pub  I dont recall ever having a drink after work.

Freemasons, Brighton 1998
Just a few shifts to help my sister out who worked there. Awesome island bar, lively landlord and great atmosohere. Drank Sherbet Vodka and assorted shots… Generally a messy night.

The Font and Firkin, Brighton 1999 – 2002
Worked all through Uni, and beyond. Huge pub, and old church, with live music, football, rugby. Fancy dress Millenium eve. We had an onsite brewery which I sadly had no interest in at the time. Made some amazing friends. Drank Carlsberg Export and anything going at the regular line cleaning lock-ins.

O’neils, Brighton 2000 ish
Neighbour to the Font. We used to cover each others pubs for staff nights out. The O’neils team popped in on one such night out to find us buying shots for all their locals and dancing on the bar while we were supposed to be babysitting their pub. We didnt get asked again. Drank Caffreys and Guinness.

Royal Pavillion Tavern & Pav Tav 2002-2003
Lived in a bedsit with access from the night club upstairs. Assisitant manager, worked in the cellar, behind the bar, in the kitchen, with the door staff in the club… Once cracked my head open at a lock-in, area manager who was also there prescribed tequila. Went to A&E the next day and had to have my head glued… Drank ‘Double up for £1’ JD & Kronenbourg 1664.

Flask, Highgate 2003 – 2005
First london job, lived in. This as where miet my amazing wife Sarah who also worked there. Busy pub, especially in summer. This is where I also discovered beer (properly) working for Andrew Cooper (now Wild Beer Co). Served Les Dennis, Sara Cox, Craig Charles, Michael Palin and probably a few others. Never saw George Michael despite him living opposite the pub. Drank Hopback Summer Lightning, Franziskaner Weiss & Früli.

Angel Highgate 2004
Helped out when they were short staffed as it was round the corner and same company as The Flask back then. Always loved the fishtank behind the bar. Drank Weissbier and Bourbon.

Windsor Castle, Kensington 2004
Three week assistant manager relief. Sold absolutely obscene amounts of sausages. Experienced manager Rich would sit all the staff down and buy us a few pints every night whilst energetically critiquing service while we drank them. The price of our beer 😉 Drank the Guest Ale…

Garden Gate, Hampstead Heath 2005 – 2006
Assistant Manager, live in. Played lots of poker and draughts after work. The pub is right by the Royal Free Hospital, highlights included a customer entering in a gown with a drip on a stand, we refused service. Drank Guinness w Port, guest ales and Cuba Libre.

Washington, Belsize Park 2005
I did a few short relief management stints here. Gorgeous pub, amazing comedy club downstairs, saw Rich Hall amoung others. Also served Matt Lucas and David Walliams. Drank Addlestones cider.

Crown Clerkenwell 2005
Did a several week relief management here. Discovered the Dovetail Belgian bar while exploring the area. We closed the pub for 2 days to film scenes for Notes on a Scandal w Dame Judy Dench & Cate Blanchett, my mate Max was an extra. Drank Paulaner if I remember rightly…

Maid of Muswell 2006
Management relief for a few months. Bought a fibre glass cow for £1k. There was a Sunday church service in the main bar every week, it meant we couldnt get in to set up for lunch service ’til 11am. The full band and choir meant no lie in though! Drank Dos Equis, Guest Ales & Cuba Libre.

New Harp Inn, Hoarwithy 2006
Assistant Manager. Gorgeous country pub in Herefordshire on the river Wye owned and run by Andrew & Fleur Cooper. Beer and Food Matching pub of the Year finalist. Drank Schneider Weiss, our Belgian beer selection and Ross on Wye cider.

Thatchers Arms 2006 – 2014
Owned and ran with my parents. Rural country pub where we hosted beer festivals, movie nights, dog shows, farmers markets, theatre productions, comedy nights and more. Our pub dog Dylan took a starring role in a telegraph review if the pub. Amoung the ever changing guest ales and wine list I mostly drank Crouch Vale Brewers Gold and Pilsner Urquell.

The Bull, Highgate 2014 – 2016
Manager. North London brewpub. Terry Jones was a local. Beer and Food dinner with Rogue hosted by John Maier was a highlight, drank far too much Rogue XS I²PA that night. Usually drank London Brewing Co Beer Street and Skyline on cask.

The Bohemia, Finchley 2014 – 2016
Sister pub to the Bull. Helped with opening training, unloading the container with the 10hl brewkit and occasional shifts behind the bar. Drank London Brewing Co Gigglemug and Upright.


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