Innocent drinkers outside several South London pubs are being exposed to dangerous amounts of air pollution, if reports on illegal levels of toxic gas at nearby schools are to be believed.
Boris Johnson was accused of burying reports that showed hundreds of schools were in areas that breached EU pollution limits (40 ug/m3). Instead of getting rid of the pollution, he got rid of the EU, revealing the kind of lateral thinking that only a private education could inspire. He then moved on to Foreign Secretary when an opportunity arose for a racist clown.
But what these so-called reports don’t tell us is which pubs are nearby and should be treated with caution. Deserter has put together a list of boozers in pollution blackspots so you can make an informed decision on where to spend your afternoon.
If you should find yourself in one of these establishments, our advice is to stay inside until closing time. On no account should you leave the pub, even if you receive a text telling you dinner is ready. Not even if it’s toad in the hole. You can’t take chances with your health.
6 Flowers of the Forest, Lambeth
At first glance, the name of this boozer by slow moving traffic on Westminster Bridge Road seems ironic. But it is named after the ancient Scottish folk song commemorating the defeat of the Scottish army at Flodden. A lovely melody, often accompanied by bagpipes unfortunately, it is a lament usually heard at funerals. Still, it’s a lovely name for a pub, even one with the highest pollution in South London.
It does have a beer garden and outside tables at the front, which you take to at your own risk. In summer the front of the pub is wide open, revealing a devil-may-care attitude to nitrogen dioxide. A welcoming locals’ pub with Sky Sports, it fortunately doesn’t sell any great ale, so avoidance is conceivable.
(Flowers of the Forest is opposite St George’s Cathedral Catholic Primary School – 64.3 ug/m3)
5 Prince of Wales, Elephant & Castle
Sky Sports and a pool table make the PoW tempting for the indoor athlete, however ale drinkers will be disappointed, if not incredulous. Formerly the staff room of choice for lecturers at the nearby London College of Communication, the drive towards professionalism in education has left it quiet at lunchtime. Students paying nine grand a year don’t expect tutors to stink of booze and be in need of a nap in the afternoon. That, after all, is a student’s role.
They make a big play for the food crowd with a surprising menu, though it remains one of those pubs that you are amazed is still going.
(Prince of Wales is 3 mins walk from Notre Dame Roman Catholic Girls School – 55.9)
4 The Beehive, Vauxhall
With its mock Tudor exterior, you might expect an olde-worlde-ness inside The Beehive. But no, it’s all clean lines, modern art and neat leather seating aimed at the numerous Sky screens. Great for sport, even if the pub design resembles the calm of a psychiatrist’s waiting room – but one with a bar, as all waiting rooms should have.
It’s right by The Oval and gets rammo when there’s a match on. It’s the home of the Barmy Army – or the battalions that haven’t travelled with the team, so it can get lively, even at 9am, when they’re open for the Ashes. It earns big bonus points for opening at unsocial hours for such matters of national importance.
(The Beehive is 1 min walk from St Anne’s Catholic Primary – 57.7)
3 The Horse & Stables, Lambeth
Hostel pubs are not a distinguished genre but The Horse & Stables has been nicely spruced up, has a decent beer selection and the Jolly Roger’s comedy club upstairs.
In summer, the Stable doors remain open, along with the windows, like an Alpine chalet bar gazing across a tranquil lake to the mountains beyond, rather than a highly congested highway pumping shite into the naked air. It’s perfectly located for many of London’s tourist landmarks as well as noxious gases, so it’s got the lot.
(The Horse & Stables is 2 mins walk from Oasis Academy South Bank – 59.4)
2 The Albert Arms, Elephant & Castle
I didn’t expect the Albert Arms to have changed, but the old backstreeter has had a revamp. New management moved in a month or so ago, changed the decor – but kept it simple – and turned the old Victoria bar into a restaurant, with gazpacho Andaluz and crab bisque. In the Elephant!
The little Albert bar remains as cosy as ever, though now with tributes to lost music legends, instead of the trad pub schizzle. The beer is fine without being spectacular, as it’s still a Brakspear pub. The Brakspear family are distantly related to Pope Adrian IV, England’s only pope, though there’s no discount for Catholics, even if you’re a guilt-ridden, repressed, inebriant with a predilection for spanking (I was asking for a friend).
(The Albert Arms is 3 mins walk to St Jude’s C of E Primary School – 55.6)
1 Crown & Cushion, Lambeth
What a treat it was to discover this gem, having walked past it so many times in the past. A classic old skool Irish pub, with its nods and winks and great accommodation for seated sports enthusiasts. Like The Horse & Stables over the road, it sells Southwark Brewery ale and pub grub, but upstairs it has a Thai and Lao restaurant, so you can take a pint of Best Bitter up to pair with some pahtnam prig pow, should you fancy.
It gets lively for the footy and they will accommodate more than one game at a time, just like we assume they do in heaven (but with better air quality and free Mini Cheddars). And being Irish, there’s plenty of horse racing on, so you can get rich while enjoying a Guinness.
Smokers can get their kicks in the charming beer garden out back, where the air might be a microgram or two better than at the front.
(The Crown & Cushion is 3 mins walk from Oasis Academy South Bank – 59.4)
Studies have offered evidence that long-term NO2 exposure may decrease lung function and increase the risk of respiratory symptoms. Add that to smoking 20 Rothmans and you’ve got a health timebomb coming at you like last orders on wheels.
And what about the little kidlings? Their lung function is at an increased risk, especially if they suffer with asthma. Some may never be able to know the taste of tobacco. Think about that.
‘It is a scandal that in a wonderful, modern world city like London, thousands of people are dying because the air they breathe is toxic,’ said Sadiq Khan announcing clean bus routes to add to a larger Ultra-Low Emission Zone. A good start, yes, but pollution surcharges don’t save lives. Just like the Congestion Charge that no longer reduces congestion. It just raises money. And as we are painfully aware, you can’t buy a round when you’re dead.
Sadly, the problem is that we have too many gits. Gits that drive large cars, alone, unnecessarily. Gits who are too good for public transport. Gits who think nothing of the ugly air our smokers are forced to breathe outside our beautiful pubs. We need to be tough on gits and tough on the causes of gits.
Remember this handy motto next time you fancy sitting in traffic for an hour, listening to Sean Paul: ‘Think Drinker.’ (Oh, and kids. Don’t forget the kids.)
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