Letters – January 2020


I fully agree with Ray Palin in that the magazine deserves a more fitting name. ‘Drinker’ is rather non-specific and does have some generally negative connotations. I suggest London Pub Life as a far more suitable title.
David C Arnoff


My under-age drinking was done decades ago in a number of country pubs. One of them was the Prince of Wales in Newney Green near Chelmsford, but was always known as either the Kickin’ Dickey or the Drum & Monkey. Back then, it was a converted ‘two-up two-down’ cottage. Open the front door and across the public bar was what had been the back door but was now a door-wide bar behind which was a lean-to with barrels on stillage. To the right was the saloon, which was a Victorian parlour with a dining table and chintz and Mrs Porter would carry the round in on a tray. Out the back was a shed which is part of my history of pub loos. The beer was Truman’s, so we drank halves of mild and bitter (in those days Truman’s bitter could be like drinking razor blades) but we only did it in the spring or autumn because room temperature beer was either too warm in summer or too cold in winter.

More recently, the Approach Gallery, upstairs at the pub of the same name in Bethnal Green, found a home movie of the pub back in the early 1960s. The bar was virtually clear, having only a couple of handpumps, while behind the bar were racks of room temperature bottles of beer and mixers.

The issue of beer temperature cropped up again recently. A pub on my circuit had new lager providers. They thought the coolers weren’t cool enough so popped down to the cellar to sort it out. Unfortunately they adjusted the wrong bit of kit. The real, cask ales were made colder. Before the licensee spotted this, a Cask Marque inspector made an inspection and reported that the real ales were too cold so the pub’s accreditation was due to be withdrawn.

The steady reduction in serving temperature of all beers over my lifetime is something I’ve noticed. At the risk of sounding like I support the whimsical Mr Wetherspoon, I blame cheap flights to Lanzarote. Doubt we’ll ever see it reversed.
Nik Wood