Jerry: What community? There’s a community?
Elaine: Of course there’s a community.
Jerry: All these years I’m living in a community, I had no idea.
‘We were so pleased when an Antic pub opened round the corner from our house,’ said a couple of our non-beer-geek (‘normal’) friends in London last week, slightly startling me. ‘It was such a relief.’
It turns out that the lively but more traditional pub near their house had never been their cup of tea — its full of posters for a political party they definitely don’t support, and they got too much faintly threatening attention from the the regulars. Sure, it was a community local, but the community in question didn’t want them. At the Antic, on the other hand…
On entering, they bumped into someone they knew, and there was some hugging and air-kissing. Ten minutes later, they realised that their neighbours were sat nearby, and exchanged notes on the preceding Monday morning’s hangovers. Then the chap from across the road wandered by and they gossiped for ten minutes about some matters of local concern. The twenty-something barman greeted them like old friends, too. There was, in short, more chit-chat and chumminess than we’ve seen in a lot of supposedly friendly village pubs.
Just because this particular community happens to be made up of middle-class professionals, some of them gay, most of them from places other than London, doesn’t make it any less ‘authentic’, and Antic seem to have found a gap in the market: they need somewhere to congregate. Our friends seem to know the location of most of the Antic pubs in South London and see them as safe ports of call. (A chain with a reliable if predictable offer… Is it too much to call Antic ‘the middle class Wetherspoons’?)
It’s easy to take the piss out of the olives and Macbooks, the expensive Scotch eggs and silly hats, but that’s all superficial inverse snobbery: the important thing is that people are in a pub they like, buying beer, and having a bloody good time.
The beer? Well, one of our mates was drinking kegged Meantime Pale Ale — his favourite, he said, it reminded him of IPAs he’d enjoyed on a particularly enjoyable holiday in the US last year. Make of that what you will.