16 April, 2011


We interrupt this bulletin...

As I may have mentioned before, my attitude to homosexualist activities is largely one of indifference. I am not particularly exercised about it, nor do I wish to celebrate it or have it celebrated in front of me. As Mrs Patrick Campbell expressed it, "... as long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses". If you want to hold gay pride marches through Soho, then I won't be calling for you to be horsewhipped or strung up from the nearest lamppost. On the other hand, I may laugh mockingly at your exhibitionistic self-importance.

And now for some news from our horse-frightening correspondent,

Gay couple 'removed from Soho pub for kissing'

As regular readers will be entirely unsurprised to learn, I happen to know the John Snow. Purely in connection with my ongoing sociological research project into London pub culture, of course. It is a small Sam Smith's pub in Broadwick Street. Smaller than it looks, in fact. Although it is rather awkwardly partitioned into three traditional "rooms", there are no secluded corners available which are suitable for discreet dalliance. The clientele is mixed, with young middle class media types, older manual workers and retired folk from nearby social housing attracted by the startlingly low prices. (If you want a cheapish pub drink in central London, go to a Wetherspoon. If you're too skint even to indulge in industrialized drinking in the Church of St Tim, find yourself a Sam's pub.)

Precisely what "kissing" amounted to in this case is not absolutely clear from the BBC report. Attitudes vary: one man's peck on the cheek is another man's Roman orgy. As far as the John Snow is concerned, it doesn't strike me as the as the sort of place where snogging would be welcome. From my relatively limited experience of the place, a perfunctory greeting or parting kiss between a heterosexual couple would be as far as it goes. A full mutual anatomical exploration session would get a bucket of water thrown over you.

Which is fine by me. There are accepted conventions in these matters. Should it make a difference that it was a "gay" couple? I don't see why not, to be honest. It's a very mainstream straight pub. It has its own respectable straight mainstream standards. If I were to indulge in the strange White male habit of wandering round without a shirt on as soon as the sun comes out for more than five minutes and called in at the John Snow for a bevvy, I rather expect I'd be told where to go in very clear language. And if the punters or the guvnor are not keen on gay snogging in the snug, then fair enough. I don't think a formal notice specifying the maximum tolerated depth of tongue penetratrion is absolutely necessary.

To the gaggle of limp-wristed offendees who stood outside chanting, "We're here, we're queer, we won't buy your beer", I can only say, fair enough, fuck off down the Duncan then. Or Compton's. Or G·A·Y. Or any of the Ku bars. All places I probably wouldn't even get served in, even I if wanted to be.

What makes this non-event worth writing about at all is the traditional overreaction:
So a brace of shirtlifters is shown the door at a Soho pub. The West End division of the League of Ships' Marys duly flounces up to hold a mass pout-in. Inspector Knacker takes an interest and the outrage is reported on the national radio news.

The EDL goes to Blackburn to demonstrate about the large-scale grooming and pimping of young White girls by "Asian" criminals, and also (for the benefit those Righteous commentators who were incredulously puzzled by the EDL's apparent interest in road safety) about the unwillingness of the police to prosecute dangerous driving and other serious vehicular offences when the perp is one of the Brown community. Nary a peep from the Beeb. Casuals United demonstrate outside the home of the Charleneburger in Blackpool. No interest. (As a matter of technical curiosity, is long pig halal?)


Just as well these two lads weren't Black as well. Otherwise the landlord of the John Snow would have been in Belmarsh by now and the pub demolished.

Ah, that's better, I needed that. (© Ken Dodd.)

Update (09:40)

Now CiF is on the case. 450 comments in 12 hours. 12 hours overnight, that is; do these people never sleep. Well, fuck me with a rusty scruting probe smeared with pig fat, we've certainly got our priorities right, haven't we?

Mind you, I quite like this comment,

15 April 2011 10:20PM

I was followed into the gents by the barman in a pub on buckingham palace road when a lady whom I'd just met tried to join me there.

'You can't do that in here', he said.

Do I get my own article on Cif?

Unfortunately I forgot to shake with rage. We were too busy heading for the nearest park.

So which pub on the Buckingham Palace Road was that then, Spoutwell? Purely out of academic interest, of course.

Over at Longrider's blog, someone in the comments reports that the landlord was backed up by an off-duty plainclothes police officer, according to Radio 5 interview.

I wonder if PSD are currently tracking him/her down to have a little chat about 'non-compliance with diversity standards'..?

If I have already made this comment allow me to repeat myself.

When the Half Moon theatre in Mile End was converted into a Wetherspoons they offered McEwans at 79p a pint. You could get blotto on a fiver.

Happy days, happy days.

BTW I once got into an argument with a Leftie in the newly converted boozer who was bemoaning the loss of a 'community theatre'.

What community you on about then, mate, yours or mine, I said?

I have been told Wetherspoons offers cheap ale because their policy is to buy booze that is just about at the sell-by date. But then, it's a good move if you can get it fast down people's throats before it has time to go off fully.

If they'll picket a pub like that, what on earth will they do when an entire area such as Tower Hamlets is declared a gay free zone ?

Oh, news just in - they'll do fuck all as that's a bit more dangerous than taking on one pub landlady.

There's what appears to be a gay bar or club on the Commercial Road. Every time I pass it on the bus, as White males of non-default sexual preference enter and leave while women in tents and bearded men in their nighties walk past on the street, I marvel that it's still there.

I get the impression that the colonists are studiously ignoring it at the moment. I don't see that situation lasting.

@Anon of 17:57,

Yes I've heard that story many times about Wetherspoon's bulk-buying nearly expired beer to get a reduced price. I've no idea if there's any truth in it, but as you say if they can turn it round quickly enough before it does go off, then good on 'em.

I'm inclined to believe the story is mostly sour grapes (or possibly sour beer). Wetherspoon seems to evoke strongly antagonistic feelings for a variety of reasons and this story seems to be a proxy for them.

Myself, I quite like the places. They are the Tesco or Travelodge of the pub sector, and I accept them on those terms. They are average in quality and service, but consistent with it — you know exactly what you're getting. If I wanted a boutique boozer where the guvnor's wife had personally inspected and pissed in the mash tuns and the brewer gave nightly seminars with guest appearances from the farmer who grew the barley, and where I was treated as part of the landlord's family, I'd go somewhere else.


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