London’s nightlife is nothing on a night in a country pub

Take me back to the Black Horse


London nightlife means spending a lot of time in bars. You will pay a fiver for a bottle of bang average craft beer and you’ll have a nice enough time. The state of clubbing is by no means terrible, though it’s no Mecca of messiness. In fact it’s barely anything: its identity is hard to conjure.

You won’t have a bad time there either – you’ll have a good time. Sometimes, you’ll have a great time. But why does it always have to be London?

It doesn’t.

A man in a pub

A man in a pub

We all reminisce fondly about nights at the Black Horse, or the Carpenter’s Arms. Country pub nights where a “mare” meant the fruity had swallowed your final 50p or the new family from the bottom of the village ordered something from Brian’s cocktail menu, rather than some guys threatening to bottle your mate. The cocktail menu was Brian’s wife’s idea, it’s easier for her to explain to everyone what she’s drinking with four flirty words than four honest ones: vodka, gin, fruit juice. But Brian doesn’t like the cocktail menu, the fruit juice is kept in the back and his left leg hasn’t felt right since the 80s.

But in the country pub Brian is the only angry person. In London everyone is angry. They’re angry about paying over the odds for bad drinks. They’re angry about getting searched on their way into the club and they’re angry about it never living up to the hype of the capital cliche. The best London nights are the spontaneous ones which end fairly early before you wind up in someone else’s flat not really sure what you’re doing there. It says it all: you’re not out.

But the country pub breeds spontaneity. You only went in for one, but now it’s last orders, and shall we go for a walk through the woods in the dark?

This doesn't happen in a pub

This doesn’t happen in a pub

And Londoners can only dream of the lock-in there. There will be no unwelcome knock on the door because the only policeman for ten miles around is in there with you, lying underneath the Guinness tap smoking a John Player Special while you fill him with Irish chaser.

You think of the country pub often. And you also think that it is particularly unfortunate that the Wetherspoon’s website has a section on George Orwell’s favourite, though fictional pub the Moon Under Water. Orwell wrote that a good pub has atmosphere, and that this atmosphere is dictated by the personality of the landlord. He agrees that London pubs have nothing on country pubs: few have gardens, or “open fires, cheap meals, a garden, motherly barmaids”.

Of course, like Orwell’s pub, yours is a pipe dream. You cannot spend every evening shuttling off into the Home Counties to find its best boozer. You must remain in London, sensitive of its shortcomings, and fantasising about setting up shop in a corner seat with a view onto a small car park full of Land Rovers.