Pub reviews are back!

Last night we tried out the latest entrant on Camberwell’s pub scene, the Dark Horse (16 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY) — formerly Blake House, formerly formerly The Kerfield.

It’s nicely decorated and has plenty of comfortable leather pouffes, but they’ve taken the decision not to open the upstairs as a restaurant, instead dividing downstairs into half-bar, half-restaurant, meaning table space is limited. Upstairs will be a private hire room apparently.

They serve the deliciously cloudy, still cider Addlestones,  a welcome addition to the range available in the area. We didn’t eat so I can’t comment on that. The clientèle was young and affluent, and there seemed to be a few King’s staff in there.

Best feature for me, however, was the young lady I believe to be the manager. She’s friendly, helpful and — best of all — attentive to the clients. No looking at the ground while serving then looking up at a throng and asking “Who’s next?”; she looks at everyone who comes in, gives them a greeting and let’s them know that she’s aware and will serve them soon. Fantastic! A lost art around these parts (and in general). Shame the barman wasn’t aware that a good lager needs a good head on it.

It’s a little too impersonal to feel like a good local, but it’s a nice extra option to have when going out. It was fairly busy, too; unlike The Grove/BRB, which was almost empty when we passed and looked to be dying on its arse.

I was going to the Gowlett in Peckham today, but rain stopped play. Instead I am treating myself to a nice sausage sandwich and staying in where it’s warm and dry.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

67 thoughts on “Pub reviews are back!”

  1. Quick food and drink note: Plasterers have working on the tapas bas since earlier this week — so hopefully that will re-open soon!

  2. I’ve tried the Dark Horse a couple of times now and I’ve been impressed — I Recently moved to Camberwell and after some extensive pub testing I’d agree that the Horse is a decent addition. I’ve eaten during the week and the food was excellent — Two courses for £13 I think — well worth it, not massive portions, but there’s definately someone good in the kitchen, and the staff were v attentive too!

  3. Glad you have re-discovered the horse. Indeed it is a lovely addition and the food there is great — especially the daytime menu which is more economical and REALLY good.

    Oh, guess you have noticed the ad for the boutique hotel above the Tapas place too?

  4. I have noticed the ad on the scaffolding, and for some reason I completely forgot to comment on it. Can’t wait to try out the Tapas when it opens; perhaps we should book a big Blog table for the opening night.

  5. Hi

    When you want a professional restaurant reviewer do feel free to call me…

    Qualifications?

    I like my grub a lot.

    Jay Rayner was in my bookshop once.

    Er… that’s it.

    Andrew Mishmash

    ps Jay Rayner really was in my bookshop a while ago. I sidled up and suggested that since he was instrumental in my restuarant choices, he should let me choose a book for him. He took something by Glen Duncan as I recall. He’s no shortarse by the way, and pretty broad too — occupational hazard i suppose.

  6. There is a website called http://www.fancyapint.com — They have a pathetically poor 3 establishments reviewed in Camberwell (Pheonix,Castle,Hermits Cave) — I’ve sent them an e-mail mentioning the Joiner’s Arms,Sun And Doves,The Cambria,Fox On The Hill,Dark Horse,Funky Munkey…but they don’t seem to have replied…maybe if a few more folks sent e-mails were sent their way they might make a bit more of an effort to promote Camberwell on their website…

  7. Peter — Thanks, but some of the reviews are a bit on the harsh side…6.9 for Sun & Doves? 4.5 for The Cambria? I do like The Joiner’s Arms though…it’s a little gem

  8. Ate in the ‘horse on opening night completely by coincidence and was very impressed … the food was excellent and the manageress was very attentive … Beware they serve Leffe in pint glasses … surely should be halves only unless you’re a lot harder than I am!

  9. You’re right, Leffe in half-pint glasses (globular half-pint glasses, mind) with the word “Leffe” on the side. It just doesn’t taste the same otherwise.

  10. The Gowlett is Good. Pizzas excellent. Jonny a man to himself and has now opened the Old Nun’s Head in Nunhead.

    Dark Horse. To begin with the manager was an American fron Detroit called Laurence. Maybe he’s not there any more.

  11. Don’t know what happened to Laurence, he served me around the time they opened and was charm personified. Not too sure about the new manageress, believe she came from the Black Sheep

  12. I bought a Somerfield own-label Chicken Jalfrezi with Pilau rice for 49p the other day at the Peckham Road petrol station. These are much better dinners than you find in a standard curry house. They are made by genuine ladies on industrial estates, I’m sure of it. It is right to be upbeat about Camberwell.

    Only last Sunday morning, Radio 3 played a scintillating quartet for saxophones by Pierre-Max Dubois. Anyone tuned into Radio 3 in the area would have heard it, marvellous.

    It may be a while before the Dagmar family can afford to dine at the Blake Horse, even just on pints of Leffe. However, Camberwell is a state of mind, it exists as a mental bouillabaise — as well as a grid of brick, concrete and tarmac — heaving and frothing, bubbling and volatile, sometimes dark, sometimes completely Blake, sometimes bright and breezy.

    I finally have a copy of War Music, the long poem based on the Iliad by Christopher Logue who lives on the Grove and is not just a Camberwell but a national star, a real survivor with an unbelievable talent for seeing things. The poem is bursting with strength.

    The word on the playground amongst many parents at Lucas Gardens is that most areas of terraced housing round here are going through the roof. The area is coming up with unencumbered professionals, but many families are moving away. I met an interesting dad recently who sensibly moved to Bexleyheath, but came back because he missed the life of SE5.

  13. In my opinion beerintheevening is a far better website than fancyapint as it allows users to contribute reviews which allows a truer ongoing picture of the pub to be established (although does tend to result in sometimes bizarre comments aided I imagine by drink.) I have suggested several pubs in the SE5 and surrounding area to this website under a variety of usernames

  14. I wonder if the Bickleigh will continue as a pub? A dad in the park told me that the old Walmer Castle (burnt-out Pharaohs — where do you stick the apostrophe in that preposterous name?) was once owned by the boxer Chris Finegan (Olympic Gold 1968) and had a gym. Does anyone know anything about this?

  15. Not bad. You strip the bark, boil it and drink the liquor when it’s cooled. It’s full of aspirin, so it’s a bit like taking Ecstasy if you have enough of it.

  16. how can The Dark Horse possibly succeed when the toilet seats are so regularly stolen from the ladies’ loos?

  17. Willow’s good. Haven’t eaten there recently, leisure time not permitting, but have been twice and really enjoyed it. Can’t remember what I ate though. Too much imbibing and chat.

    Heather, the owner and, I think he’s called Scott, the chef, are both really committed to Camberwell (well, I guess you have to be when you set up business here).

    Dagmar, your take on life alone is, erm almost, enough to keep me up on Camberwell. Unfortunately I always seem to get the grit in the Bouillabase and the bone in the fish…

  18. Thanks, Mark. You’re a gentleman and a scholar, unlike the brazen hussies and discombobulated ne’erdowells who make up the majority of the posters on this site.

  19. So, still smarting from the deceit shown to you by Carstairs and the lovely Lady H, my Lord Henry? Don’t tar us all with your the same brush you apply to your own dastardly retinue!

  20. Talking of retina, did anyone go to the opening of the Cooltan art show last night at the Sun & Doves? Maggi Hambling opened it. Maggi Hambling. If I’d known that, I would have crawled across cut glass to get there, which I imagine she would have liked.

  21. Ahem. I have to say that I made an effort and visited The Sun and Doves last night. And modesty prevents me from saying it was a fantastic night, great atmosphere, lots of people — Maggie did a speech, as did Nick Stanton (leader of Southwark working off patch in Lambeth of course) A few pics here

  22. I am new to this forum but I have been in Camberwell for 2.5 years. I love it!

    I think the new ’boutique’ hotel looks very exciting, but I am not sure what there business model for success in Camberwell will be, but here’s hoping it works — a great addition. Peter mentions the tapas restaurant re-opening, but i am not sure why it will re-open, won’t the hotel have a bar in the downstairs instead? I never thought much of the tapas, too greasy.

    Everyone here likes the Darkhorse, but I think it is trying too hard. The decor is like a pic n’ mix of what is trendy at the moment (patterned wall paper, big mirror, blah, blah) all mashed together with no real vision of what they wanted — the lighting in the bar is particularly ugly. I haven’t tried the food, but I have ordered a Manhatten cocktail, which wasn’t that well made. All that said I reckon it’s ok when bored of other pub staples.

    For a change I have been going to the George Canning, and my friend has tried the hilariously named, Budha Jazz (probably the best worst name ever), and said the food excellent.

  23. A general observation is that I go to bed way too late and get up way too early. No I didn’t mean that.

    … IS that no bar or restaurant has ever opened in Camberwell that really got it all right.

    The vast majority of ventures here are independent and not chain linked (er; Nando’s, Phoenix, brb). Most openings have been copies of good gastro pubs elsewhere or of really solidly conceived catering establishments that have been well funded and resourced when originally set up.

    I recognise the ailments of many other places because of my own experience. The Sun and Doves was a pioneer in the Gastro Pub arena but was set up on a quarter of the finance it really needed, leading to long term structural difficulites that we are still living with and trying to correct now (11 years). We have been copied (early on in some cases by BIG companies) and some of our small innovations have become almost de riguer for setting up new pubs and bars. Some of the things we’ve wanted to do but haven’t been able to for various reasons, I’ve seen become standard elsewhere.

    I don’t want anyone to fail in business. It’s a bitter and life reducing experience. But I’ve seen, probably in the dozens by now, new places open up here over the years and fail, generally because they have been half arsed, ill conceived, naive and most of them under funded.

    Blakes is a good example of how difficult it is to get successful catering underway — even when there is substantial money behind the project. If Blakes had got the opening plan and everything like decor, feel, ambience and all the rest right at the very beginning they would still be there now. They are not. And I assure you the closing of that business did not come cheap. Someone / or several paid dear for that demise.

    I wish Dark Horse all success too. But from what I’ve seen speculate they are in trouble already. If I were the owners I would be highly concerned — unless they got a years rent break which is cloud cuckoo land to hope for with an outfit like Punch.

    IN spite of opening offers, in spite of many very positive reviews and postings on sites like this, they aren’t busy enough to ‘wash their face’ as a business.

    A friend and I submitted a business plan to Punch for the site well over a year ago now. It was based around a thorough (as thorough as anyone can get) understanding of Camberwell and its people and our potential market (and we didn’t want to kill trade at S&D of course — it was to complement and add to everything else locally.

    Their rent expectations were high but they were prepared to invest heavily in improving the premises to our specification. As negotiations proceeded Punch came back with a much higher rent that we started with, partly I think because they thought our plan was a sure fire winner and we would go for it. We know the risks, we know success here is possible but not a breeze. We wanted to take that site on and really whack into Camberwell with something that would have rocked from day one. We walked away because we knew the increased risk on the new rent was way too high for us to be comfortable with.

    We speculated that aspects of our plan (including layout drawings and functional operation detail) might somehow pop up in the building’s next incarnation.

    Well the way we proposed the space should be managed is pretty much what’s happened with Dark Horse. But the operation is entirely unlike what we proposed. We were going to proper tapas and be very heavy on real ales and a totally brilliant wine list and cracking cocktails. There was going to be a late private ‘arts’ club upstairs which would have been up and running from the day the new business opened — the plan needed income from every square foot of space to meet the rent expectaions of the Freeholder and to make a sensible profit.

    So back to reality and what is staring Dark Horse in the mouth: No upstairs income, downstairs not being healthily bustling busy from day one = DANGER> is coming that way.

    I give them 18 months and my best wishes.

  24. I forgot to say. It was called ‘The Field’ and was to be a sports bar showing all major events in high definition projection and other very tasteful ways… It ticked all the right boxes, and I’m sure would have worked — if but for — rent. I’m not sure I would have been happy paying Ruoert Murdoch 10K a year though.

  25. The above is what concerns me about Marbella Hotel. What the owner enthusiastically posted here a few months ago is laudable and exciting in prospect. I have a close empathy with his drawing analogy between parts of New York and Camberwell / the cultural mix… And all the rest of his sentiments. Verbal / written language is one thing — the language they have to get right there to make Marbella work is visual, spatial, aural, aromatic (smelly? nasal? the right word escapes me) all sensual — the concept has to match and be reflected in the atmosphere, decor and ambience. Then delivery has to be spot on. This all HAS to be right. Then it will work. If it’s slightly wobbly, a bit pastiche, too romantic; if the waiters don’t speak a good English and have confidence in and knowledge of the products they are selling, if the kitchen can’t knock the grub out at apace and keep it consistent, if the cocktails are too naff; the list of potential cock ups is almost endless, then it will not work. It will be seen as a clownish joke — ‘they gave it a nice try but missed the mark’; ‘they built it but they did not come’; Fawlty Towers.

    One thing they MUST do is change the facade at ground level. If they keep it as is, and if they don’t I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong, the new tapas bar will be a dismal failure. That facade does not say ‘angels and gypsies’. It says ‘naff ranch style crap’.

    It was Angels and Gypsies? Is that my memory? What did I say? I like the name immediately but there are problems with it (actually I am amazed, if I got it right, that I remembered, maybe it’s the right name after all) — Angeles Y Gitanos might be better in some ways but, unusually for a translation from English to another language the result is actually a little more cumbersome than the native — perhaps this is because the native here is Spanish thinking English;

    I reckon they should call it El Nino. I can’t do the curly bit on the n aha: El Niño (cut n paste from online dictionary). As far as I know it’s available. No one else has thought to use it as a business name for a bar or restaurant that I can find, perhaps for obvious reasons but in fact it means (I hope I haven’t spent all these years believing this completely erroneously) ‘the Christ Child’ ‘The Little Boy’. It’s unforgettable and short — I’ve got a good menu cover for it too and there’s seasonal, annual, international, free publicity — and journalists will flock there to see what’s happening — get it half way right through a soft launch and: Hey Presto; Camberwell’s on THE MAP.

    It’s an idea I’ve been sitting on for years so don’t tell anyone.

    Bedtime

  26. It hardly needs to be said but is worth doing so, just in case it escapes someone: Marbella is NOT A GOOD NAME AT ALL. For a hotel. I’m not sure Angels and Gypsies is either, it wasn’t clear if the name was for the hotel or for the bar or both — with Camberwell’s long reputation and its close association with mental health difficulties. But whatever. It must not be associated with Marbella my darlings.

  27. Mark,

    I appreciate reading what you post on here for your undoubted insight into business and community in Camberwell. However, you seem to forget this a public forum and that your comments can be read by anyone. To state that such and such a business is doing badly and likely to fail surely does that business no favours at all. Would you appreciate postings on here from somebody unrelated to your business saying it was struggling or that a new venture you are planning has little chance of success?

    BTW, I am not in any way involved with any business in Camberwell, other than drinking in them!

  28. Oi!

    The Dark Horse is a barometer. The meteorologists of the Camberwell economy & society watch it with interest and wish it well (see Mark’s 1.00 am post, last line).

    Ditto the naming and future of the Marbella. If it were to be called “Playa del Ingles”, for example, we might see old Langers back on the till.

    Anyway, Mark’s insights about business income, wages and rents shed light not just on Camberwell but on every area and area of work.

    It was a posting on this site that led to the Silver Buckle getting a completely unexpected double bulk order for lager one night recently from a gang of sozzled young parents.

    Now if the Dark Horse had a loyalty scheme with discounts for repeat visits, maybe it would get more folks going in.

  29. Cheers for the reading matter Mark. I like to have a look at the Blog over a HUGE mug of tea before doing anything, let alone work. And there’s plenty to ponder here.

    Dark Horse doesn’t do it for me. The use of space lacks courage — Trying to hedge bets by being everything all at once is naive and prevents any one aspect of the business from reaching its potential. I liked Blake House and the restaurant upstairs was a unique oasis of calm for Camberwell. Shame it went. It pains me to criticise anyone who makes an effort round here, as so many just don’t give a shit. I therefore hope they make it (all be it without the help of my considerable social expense budget!) The Mary Datchelor site can’t be developed quick enough for them. Having said that, it’s part of a chain. And I think we’re pretty much as one on this subject!

    Whilst on the subject of being shackled to a pub co, how’s the rent review going? Ok I hope. If ever someone needs a freehold it’s your good self. Enjoyed a couple of pints of Ruddles County last night by the way. Thanks.

    I used to like the Phoenix. The manageress was great and ran a tight ship. It was a lovely place to go in winter with all that light and space. The ales (which I start tucking into big time around now) were really well kept and varied (frustratingly rare nowadays). She even offered to try and get some of my favourites — now THAT’S service! So what happens? She does a good job and is promptly moved on to a “bigger place in Blackheath”. Enter stage left a Grade A prat so unsuited to running something like this that I think it’s a wind up. Customers (and staff) start legging it, it starts losing money, and so on…

    Does anyone know the timeframe for developing the Marbella? Your comments are spot on and fingers crossed all the right i’s and t’s are dotted and crossed. Let’s face it, we’ve had two hotels that have managed to survive somehow, so why not have one that’s decent? I just hope that they can keep some kind of lid on prices when it opens. It’s such a fantastic thing they’re doing that it qualifies as full-on single-handed regeneration of a key part of the area. As such some public match funding should go into their immediate vicinity to help things along. Living in a shoe box as I do, I’ll be putting my folks up there when they decide to brave a visit. The comparisons drawn with parts of NYC are an interesting (and clever) way to play it. However we’re still on the wrong side of the “rough” line here. Some of the shit that goes down on our High St would be bad for business, to put it mildly. Even little things such as I witnessed yesterday…Two female students (looked like freshers) crossing Church St. Dude on the other side of the road bellows across “Oi you with the big arse”. They scuttled off. Nice? Not.

  30. I would have thought some constructive criticism from one of the few people to get a decent business off the ground in this area would be welcome.

    Re: Blake House. I liked it when I went, but I knew from the off that it wouldn’t do well; you can’t serve portions that small for £15, not round here.

  31. The criticism is constructive and I’m sure it is well-meant but perhaps it would be better aimed at the people concerned rather than on a forum post which ranks second on a google search for ‘Dark Horse Camberwell’?

  32. I really like The Dark Horse, and I hope it does well. I’ve eaten there three times now — One Friday evening, when it was packed and bustling and had a really buzzy, exciting feel to it, twice for Sunday brunch — and on those two occasions we were pretty much the only two people in there, and it was pretty morgue-like. Not sure how they can encourage more lunchtime customers at weekends — and I wonder how it does in the week too.

    All three times the food was good, reasonably priced and the service was prompt and pleasant.

    We need more places like this in Camberwell and I will certainly keep supporting it as far as my bank balance and liver will allow!

    I am really intrigued by the redevelopment of the Marbella hotel and re-opening of the tapas bar, I loved the old tapas bar and if the food and welcome of the new place is of a similar calibre, I and my other half will visit it often. I also really like the name Angels and Gypsies, it’s pretty and enticing.

  33. Exactly, we need variety, that’s what Camberwell is, some kind of variety show. Why, only the other day I was walking through the BRB passage when a brick shithouse came past twirling a Molucca Cane. You wouldn’t see that in East Dulwich or Peckham.

  34. I often find myself in very tight passages. This predilection led to a five-year stretch in Wormwood Scrubs, but that’s another story.

    Mark, keep posting, as I believe Simon, despite his protestations, is in the pay of the Dark Horse. (Although I would remind you that brevity is the soul of wit, and in the time it’s taken me to read your posts I could have finished up my book of Chekhov short stories. He’s overrated anyway. I’ve just started Nick Tosches’ biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, HELLFIRE, and it’s a masterpiece.) Name ‘em and cane “em, sir! I certainly like caning ‘em, the obstreperous little fillies! Harumph!

    Your suggestion for the new name of the Marbella has been duly noted. However, within the body of your post is a far better title — Mental Health Difficulties. Why has nobody thought of this before? I actually know the owner of the tapas bar and will try to find out more about his plans. Watch this space.

    My mother fell off her bike yesterday in Spiddal, County Galway. She was going too fast, the silly cow.

    Dagmar, regarding the boorish oaf who shouted, “Oi! You with the big arse!” You neglect to reveal whether the lady in question did or did not have an outsized posterior. This is quite important. We must be in full possession of the facts in order to make our judgement on the level of anti-social behaviour displayed.

    Judging by the single response to my post about the Willow restaurant, I’m going to assume it’s not very popular. I was planning on taking une femme de la nuit there (I’ve got very lonely since Lady H disappeared, I admit) but she’s just going to have to come back to my gaff to earn her money, the strumpet.

    Izzy in NEIGHBOURS is looking radiant these days. Her real name is Natalie Bassingthwaite, if you can call such a monicker a real name. I fear I may become her stalker.

    I’ve lost all feeling in my hands. Could that be the booze?

  35. Dear Mr Henry Lord,
    I am afraid you are quite wrong in your assumption that I am in the pay of the Dark Horse or any other Camberwell hostelry for that matter. Would that I was. In fact, I have only ever been to the Dark Horse once. I was merely posting in the spirit of fair play — misguided perhaps.

  36. It was copeywolf, not I, Lord H, who witnessed the “big arse” incident. Had I been there, the call would have been “Oi you with the pert arse!”

    I’m sorry to hear about your mother. It was probably the fairies in those parts, the spirits, who caused her to tumble. The antiquary and historian Roderick O’Flaherty lived near Spiddal, I think. I have been to nearby Maam Cross where they filmed The Quiet Man. The place was crawling with fairies at night.

    I see the new Marbella has the Persian poet Rumi advertising it, on a banner, which also promises “Love & Flare” for Camberwell. Fab!

  37. I think they should call the new hotel/Spanish Tapas Bar “Primavera” — which means spring as in the season but sounds so much more lovely in the Spanish language…

  38. I hope it’s clear that I mean to encourage rather than disparage success.

    Simon, fair enough, I appreciate that your concerns have grounding. I came to Camberwell fired up by its potential. My optimism, love and energy for the area has perennially been tested to my limits and, at times, beyond. I very seriously consider the issue of being very public (and also very identifiable) about sensitive things like other people’s businesses and decided just to be as frank as I can but keep specific criticism out of it. I reiterate — I do not wish failure on anyone. What I say about DH is not about quality, service or ambience, it’s just what I have seen – as anyone can just by walking past and looking in. If and when other bars / restaurants / hotels / shops set out their stall here on a really solid sustainable business footing it’s bound to be GOOD for us all — me, my family, my business and everyone in Camberwell.

    If people feel the need to criticise or comment on The Sun and Doves — it’s entirely fair for it to be done in public. If we don’t know what our customers want it’s hard to be objective and improve what we do in the right direction.

    Thanks LH on brevity; I apologise I did not have time enough to make shorter comment last eve… I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English — it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them — then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.*

    • Mark Twain by the way.

    There was something else but I tried so hard to keep this edited down I forgot what it was.

  39. Re: The incident of the arse. I should have mentioned that there wasn’t an ounce of misplaced playfulness, unfortunately. Couldn’t work out if it was a mental health issue or plain nastiness…

  40. Primavera is also a tedious project management software — sorry to ruin it.

    What’s all this about the ‘Marbella’, isn’t there a logo in the top right corner of the big street poster calling it the ‘Church St Hotel’, or something similar. I don’t understand…

    After disparaging the DH, I know feel guilty. I think I will return to try it again.

    Let’s start a campaign to get the Mary Datchellor developed — f**k the council man, who is with me! ‘Bueller, anyone…’

  41. Ah yes copeywolf the Rent Review was it.

    It’s a long story but in essence little has happened and the review is still locked in arbitration, with the arbitrator facing arguments from S&N that historical factual accounts (The Sun and Doves’ annual returns to Companies House) are not admissable to be used as evidence. The surreality does not escape me. It’s been in front of the arbitratos something like five months now, his fees are 4k so far, and the evidence from both sides has not even been looked at yet — it’s still preliminaries.

    Oh I forgot. Three S&N people were in here a coouple of weeks ago and told me, over some Bellinis and a couple of bottles of Waipara Hills sauvignon blanc, that they reckon I’ll be in deep trouble (“you’ll get shafted” I think is the way it was put) when the arbitrator makes his decision because their arguments for a high review are unshakeable. They’d hate to see someone like me get such a bad deal etc. All very friendly and flattering too about S&D and “what a great place you’ve got here Mark”.

    They also warned me about the motives of the man I’ve got to handle the review and arbitration for me, saying his agenda is to make a name for himself, leave his mark on history so to speak, by trying to break the tied pub industry, and he’s not primarily trying to represent me well.

    So. What would you do?

    I wrote to the arbitrator about this, telling him I am outraged that they should approach me and cast my guy as bad cop and them as good cops etc. And I sent a copy of the letter to Jeremy Blood, S&N’s Managing Director, and to Harriet Harman for their interest.

    It’s all very tedious and stressful and time consuming and keeping eye off the ball stuff. And private. So don’t tell anyone you heard this. OK?

  42. St George own Datchelor and will sit it out. Maybe the new CEO of Southwark will have a say one way or another.

    The big news down our way is that the Peckham Road petrol station shop will be turned into a Spar next week.

    I discovered this last night as I went there seeking their fantastic £3.99 Argentinian screwcap St Julia Fuzion Shiraz-Malbec 2006. The grapes must have been harvested, trodden and fermented double-quick to get it to the Peckham Road by October of the same year of vintage.

    It had sold out, so I went to the big Camberwell Somerfield, the saddest supermarket in the world. They had none, so I bought some Portuguese Fado instead, which was sad. Actually the Fado isn’t bad for £3.49.

    Ignace, OJ, Cheryl and the rest, who continue to make the petrol station shop such fun, will run the Spar, thank goodness.

    But Somerfield, Southwark and St George are not like them. They are distant entities.

  43. Rocky tm: ‘Church Street Hotel’ has a ring of Manhattan about it. Could go far.

    Mary Datchelor. I reckon you’re right. It’s worth a campaign even though the remarkably unimaginative yet successful developer St George have a grotesque grip on the site.

    There are plans afoot, nothing confirmed yet (have we heard this before?), for two new secondary schools in Southwark. Perhaps this is a portent of success against the odds.

    Let’s GO FOR IT.

  44. Hi Mark

    Rent reviews — oy! I’m a one man band bookshop in Westminster and TFL are our landlord.

    I’ve been fighting them for nearly two years, doing all the submissions on my o-ne-oh with the occasional scrounged five mins from a chummy lawyer.

    I like your pub, occasionally drop in, but have more recently drawn strength from your “successful but frustrated” businessman postings. Maybe I can return the favour.

    your review looks more complex than mine. but basically if they say “sign for double or we’ll shaft you for triple” it’s because they know they won’t get double from the arbitrator. TFL asked for a 40% rise from us so I dug in; the arbitrator gave a recedential case a rent level that equates to a 5% rise for us. We turned the tables and refused to pay this, “you should have offered us a Zero raise when you had the chance — now you’ll have to fight us for it.”

    So do please be belligerent, sneaky, and just off-the-wall occasionally to throw them. but show them no fear or respect. A telling question is — “do your kids know what you do for a living?”

    Best Wishes

    Andrew Maishmash

    ps if any of you know of anu investment angels that fancy bunging a few towards a struggling bookshop — get them to mail me. there’s a drink in it for ya — from mark’s pub too!

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