Back in the 1980’s when I started to visit London a bit more frequently I found a nice pub that was not really out of the way but as it was several minutes walk south from Victoria Station not many tourists would venture there. It was a shame really as the pub was at the entrance to Pimlico, which is very posh. The pub was not posh. Today it is a high-end restaurant befitting the area but back then it was the place I wanted to be.
The Ebury Arms was a typical London boozer. The bar was a large wood wrap-around in the middle of a large saloon floor. It displayed several wood hand pulls with fancy beer emblems that Andy Cap would have easily known. Also typical for this type of pub was the pool table and never ending playing of American country music. County music is even today very popular and may be why I am drawn to London. Well, that and the beer, fish and chips, Hyde Park Corner and pretty much everything in between. The Ebury was a tenant pub meaning the landlord” lived with his family upstairs. They had a dog as well.
One evening as I had a pint in my hand and Jonny Cash in my ear I saw the landlord’s daughter coming down the stairs. Following just steps behind her was the pooch. I think it was a Jack Russell. I also think it had a storied life. Once on the saloon floor the dog started running around the bar as though he was chasing a pub mouse. I never saw what he was after but he seemed intent on getting it. I have to give him thumb, err, paw-up for trying as he only had three legs. And that’s not all.
In addition to missing a front leg he had an eye patch over one. The tail was either totally missing or partially bitten off. He was also missing a chunk of butt on his hindquarter. I sat there and wondered what he must have gone though during his life. Did he earn these “badges” over time or was he in one really big fight where he took several blows but came out top dog? I wanted to name him Popeye.
Sadly, the pub and Popeye are long gone. Now the Ebury has wine glasses and white tablecloths. To bring a tear in my other eye Jonny Cash is no longer sharing the room with cigarette smoke. I still find London pubs what have a live-in dog or cat and a mouse every now and then. You will not find smoke anymore but Jonny still sings at the Dickens in Southwark SE1 and so many pubs still have piano night and sing-a-longs. Should you find an “olde” London pub like this take time to look around and see what is vanishing at an alarming rate. Think of Andy and Popeye and the tears in my eyes when I see them being converted or torn down. Cheers to them all.