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Username: UncertainTrumpet

Age: 63

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The Prince Albert, Brixton

The Prince Albert is bang in the centre of Brixton by the market on Coldharbour Lane and is very handy for a couple of modest quenchers while shopping there. There is a leafy ‘beer garden / smoking area’ at the back which has a shelter and heating which can be quiet and relaxing when if is not busy - which it often is as it is a favourite haunt with secret rizla-rustlers.

The atmosphere can be amiable, but there is a pervading pretentiousness that is unmistakable and which can amuse and irritate in equal measure. The first and most immediate clue to this sillyness is being confronted by the lyrics of the Clash song ‘Guns of Brixton’ which are displayed above the bar as if it is the pub’s anthem – which it may well be. Whatever, this sets alarm bells ringing. The bar staff are friendly and helpful enough, green spikey hair and pierced boat races notwithstanding. Pictures, (or should that be ‘studies’?) by local art students decorate the walls and comfy chairs and sofas are dotted around the place. Fashionably tatty. Hmmm.

The pub’s ardent defenders would insist that the Prince Albert is one of the few traditional Brixton pubs that has resisted the urge to transform into a trendy style bar and has a mixed clientele, actually. The irony is that the pub has become to all intents and purposes precisely that which it has sought not to. It’s style is ‘alternative’,’ radical rebelliousness’ and ‘cool’. It has become unconsciously trendy by trying sooo hard not to be trendy in the way same that Student Grant and his friends are pilloried in Viz. You can tell that you are in the heart of ‘vibrant multicultural Brixton’ when you are in the Prince Albert because there are so many white people sporting dreadlocks, actually.

The truth is that the clientele is not really all that mixed, they are made up of mostly young, professional, white and middle class nouveau arrivistes to the area who were attracted to Brixton because it was / is perceived as being a ‘vibrant area’ (see fawning Guardian-type articles ad nauseum et ad infinitum). These are the sort of people who passionately bemoan the gentrification of Brixton – a process in large part caused by them. Does that matter? No not really if you just fancy a couple of swift swallies.

And the beer is satisfactory enough. Not cheap, (but then bear in mind that this is zone 2 in London) and nothing to sing about, but yeah it’ll do. I don’t think they serve any food there, probably not as there are already plenty of cafes in the market. The best time to visit the Prince Albert is perhaps in the afternoon in between shopping in the market. Evenings, especially at the weekends, are likely to be raucous times as punters gear themselves up to go clubbing and speed their pilled-up titties off till the small hours. Essentially the Prince Albert is a pretentious and slightly absurd venue, albeit harmless enough. Chilled out man, etc! Cheers.

10 Dec 2010 11:53

The Canterbury Arms, Brixton

Known affectionately among locals as the ‘Copperbury’ or the ‘Porkerbury’, the Canterbury is an Irish run pub in a fine, majestic building across the road from Brixton Police Station.

Hence, it is a favourite watering hole for weary plod as they stagger across from the nick once they have clocked off after another day of back-breaking toil keeping us all safe from crime and defending democracy. It is probably because of this reason that drinkers are usually 90% white, despite the pub being located in one of the most mixed and multicultural areas of the United Kingdom.

The landlord is a strident, forthright man who suffers no seditious nonsense in his establishment and seems to enjoy the loyalty of his established customers. He is always generous enough to explain patiently and forcefully to visitors why the sports team from their local favoured area are considerably inferior to the sports team from his favourite area. Few can be in any doubt for example of the magnificence of Manchester United or Liverpool football clubs following one of his informative and friendly lectures.

Indeed, sports seems to play an important role in the Porkerbury’s cultural chemistry, the pub boasts two large satellite screens for grateful fans to watch football and rugby as they down their pints. Sagacious, thoughtful and drink-fuelled commentary is often to be heard accompanying important league and national games.

The Copperbury can also get be fairly busy at dinner times as office workers from nearby Unity House and people shopping in the market sometimes make use of the place in their lunch breaks. The pub can become very busy when there are concerts at the local Academy, especially for those who lack the stamina required of the nearby anarchic Beehive and are overly concerned about being safe in ‘dodgy and scary Brixton’.

In fact overall, revellers in this pub generally tend to be on their best behaviour and mind their Ps and Qs accordingly - conscious as one always is there of the proximity of the boys in blue and the fact that the cells are a mere kicking and tazering away. Not the sort of place to go and see a bloke about a witness statement. If you know what I mean. Cheers.

9 Dec 2010 14:57

The Beehive, Brixton

If we were still in the 18th or 19th century then the Beehive would be a ‘gaudy gin palace’. It is a noisy place, the toilets are repulsive and unhygienic and there are often robust exchanges of views among the punters that can and do become physical.

The clientele is replete with comic and tragic characters: the insane, pished old men, the local benefiterati, wheelers and dealers, bull-shitters, shop lifters, pavement princesses, students as well as market and office workers and ne-er do wells of every race, class, nation and trade. Every night the place echoes their course laughter and arguments onto Brixton high Street.

People going to gigs at the Academy regularly pop in for a few snifters on their way to concerts. Sometimes respectable lost white tourists from the suburbs visiting ‘vibrant’ Brixton make the mistake of coming in for a restorative ale and a ploughman’s lunch much to the amusement of locals.

The staff is mostly foreign and nobody with a human heart can regard their situation without pity: invariably badly paid, overworked with no union representation and rudely treated by their punters – demonstrating that no native born Brit would choose to suffer such exploitation unless really desperate.

In summary, the Beehive remains a no nonsense working class pub in an ever gentrifying Brixton. The Beehive most accurately reflects Brixton’s multicultural demographic make up. As Brixton turns into Clapham and poor people are more and more pushed further out of London, one can draw some comfort that there is for the time being at least such an oasis free from pretentious arty-fartyness and vulgar ostentation. For all these reasons the Beehive is probably looked down upon by the snootier neighbouring establishments. Cheers.

9 Dec 2010 14:03

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UncertainTrumpet has been registered on this site since 9th December 2010