Thursday, 6 October 2011

Hail the Lord Nelson: the recession is over!

The best pub is Southwark. bar none.

Everyone rejoice. The recession is over. Lehman is but a ghost. The bankers are forgiven and the politicians aquitted. Europe can stop wringing its hands and Greece should stop crying and go back to investing in hummus.

The most important gauge of fiscal health, the Lord Nelson pub in Southwark, has withdrawn its recession menu. Gone are my happy lunchtimes with a pint of Holstens and fish-finger sandwich for £6.

The Lord Nelson has to be the quirkiest pub in London. It juts out of a horrid 1960s social housing block almost onto the road, as if daring you to enter. Its ceiling is adorned with upside down trolls, the bar is guarded by stuffed dead squirrels called David and Nick, and its menu has more dishes than Debenhams.

To be honest, its just standard pub grub, but it is homemade in the truest sense. The chips are cut unevenly, the fish-fingers definitely Birds Eye, and the plates too small to fit the portions. But so much food is about style, about atmosphere and care, and the Lord Nelson has all these things in spades.

And not a numbered wooden spoon in sight. Even in this, the second "boom" of the 21st century, you can effectively buy all you can eat for less than a tenner. The effect is not just tasty and filling, but comforting. You can even pop your head into the kitchens to see the fat chef toiling away to Radio One, wondering whether it’s all worth it and what happened to Mark and Lard in the afternoon.

No one can afford the boom time. Not even the banks. Essentially, when economists talks about the “cyclical nature of the market”, all they mean is that the banks all borrowed from each other (boom), and then remember they had to pay it back (bust). And I’m left counting out that extra two pounds for my fish-finger sandwich, cursing Keynes but paying without a second’s hesitation.

No one can afford the boom time, but we’ll always pay up in the end.

243 Union St

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