The bare minimum

The above Twitter conversation got us thinking once again about ‘proper pubs’, and reaching a conclusion: barebones isn’t everything – there are some minimum entry requirements.

We had a perfectly fine time on our visit the Myrtle Tree and, a little sleazing aside, we were made to feel reasonably welcome.

But, still, we’re not sure it’s a ‘proper pub’, because it lacks atmosphere and that sense of timelessness that you find in, say, the Merchant’s just up the road.

A ‘proper pub’ can’t have cold light and pale walls. It can’t be dominated by TVs and flashing fruit machines. If you need to have a conspiratorial conversation, there should be a corner in which to do it. Ideally, there’ll be some sepia tones.

The Myrtle Tree fails all these tests for us and so we would classify it as something else: a plain old, straight-up, stripped-t0-the-bone boozer.

Boozers have their place, too, of course, but beyond the strange appeal of Bristol-style flat Bass, there’s not much for pub obsessives to look at or enjoy at the Myrtle Tree.

To put all that another way, ‘properness’ is a positive quality, not merely the absence of contemporary adornments.

4 replies on “The bare minimum”

Never been in the Myrtle Tree, so can’t comment on that specific pub, but I’d say a plain, unadorned one-room boozer can certainly be a proper pub. Indeed, that’s what many of the old-fashioned farmhouse pubs were, and the book “The Quest for the Perfect Pub”, which I have just reviewed, included “One-Room Drinker” as one of its categories.

A ‘proper pub’ can’t
– have cold light and pale walls [and no sepia anywhere]
– be dominated by TVs [or] flashing fruit machines [or both]
and should
– [be large enough and/or irregular enough in shape to provide a corner for a conspiratorial conversation]

One of these things is not like the others, it seems to me! Can a pub “dominated by TVs” really qualify as an unadorned boozer, or as a pub devoid of “contemporary adornments”? (I suppose it depends how you define ‘contemporary’ – cf. my recent comment at the Curmudgeon’s place.)

A proper pub is where people feel comfortable in their surroundings and return time after time,in this respect the Myrtle Tree certainly qualifies as do its neighbours,The Bag of Nails,The Three Tuns and The Lime Kiln each of which are different in their own way

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