Friday 16 October 2009

Requiem for the Red Lion

Last night I watched the Channel 4 documentary called The Red Lion. This is the most common pub name in the UK and film-maker Sue Bourne travelled the length of the country to visit ten of them and talk to their regular customers. No doubt the anti-drink lobby would be aghast at some of the levels of alcohol consumption discussed, such as the Lancashire rugby player who admitted to sometimes drinking twenty pints on a Saturday, and the Kent licensee who gave the impression of being a functioning alcoholic and was treating himself to an early-morning “sharpener”. But, overall, it put across a very clear impression of the companionship and sense of community that pubs can provide.

It is very well summed up by this Guardian review, especially the poignant conclusion:

Yes, you find unhappiness in the Red Lion, and people trying to drink away their loneliness. But there's also lots of good times, companionship, cameraderie and laughter. The saddest Red Lion by far is the one in Longden Common. It was the centre of this tiny Shropshire community; everyone went on a Saturday night, unless they were ill, and they tried not to be on a Saturday. But then it closed, and with it went the village’s main point of contact. They used to do stuff together, go on holiday even; now they stay at home and watch telly. I hope they watched this at least, because it was a lovely portrait of a peculiarly British institution.


  1. An excellent, and non-judgemental documentary. Must check out the Red Lion at Stodmarsh. The landlord seemed a real character with his reference to "sharpeners". Gravity-served beer as well, why didn't I know about this place before?

  2. I thought it was a sympathetic, if warts and all, piece, and Tandleman - who generally knows what he's talking about - agrees here.

    Pubs would be very dull places if all their customers stayed sober...


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