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September 25, 2017 | by  | in From Within the Fallout Zone | [ssba]

From Within the Fallout Zone

My day job is running a café at a community farm in East London. The job largely consists of serving cappuccinos to volunteers from big banks and insurance firms who come one day a year to shovel shit for their sins. Most of them work within central London, some earning more than the cost to run the farm each a year. I am the man with their morning caffeine, and that seems to afford them a funny degree of honesty and openness. On more than one occasion, morning small talk has posed the question: what do people do straight after a terrorist attack? The response offered is usually: “head to the nearest pub.” I have even heard one man say (disclaimer: he worked for BP) only then, sat with a warm flat pint of London Pride, would he call his loved ones.

The pub provides refuge for many Londoners like no other. “The local”, or even just “the pub” — the nearest one — is a community institution in the United Kingdom. The pub here gives everything you could need upon leaving the house: coffee and breakfast, a basement with a stage and PA, or the solace you need on a Sunday.

As I have learned, Sundays are a particular treat. A yorkshire pudding swimming in gravy, with a couple of session ales, is all you need to turn what should be the worst comedown of your life into the best day of the week. No wonder acolytes turned from the Church to the pub in search of Sunday prayer. And just as Jesus would have wanted, there is a pub for everyone: down the road there is a pub named the “Snooty Fox”; a little more further afield and you will find many “Workingmens’ Arms” — names signifying their patrons and their salaries all too overtly. As is the entrenchment of the class system in the United Kingdom.

The small gig scene in London is thanks to the many pubs that have small venue spaces and a population interested enough to pay five quid on a Thursday evening. No doubt bands need somewhere to play before being shoved onto the O2 arena or the Roundhouse.

Finally, the pub here fills the role of Wellington’s cafe. You are just as likely to find a mum juggling a coffee, baby, and work at the bar as you are a first year university student smashing jugs. Essentially, moral of the story is: stop spending all your money on fancy toast and flat whites and give the pub another go.


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