The ley lines of lush align to form a pissed pentagram in the village of Englefield Green, Surrey. Channelling subterranean rivers of the forgetting. Memories of decayed wives, lives and livers, running through Runnymede’s hinterlands. Runnymede: topping in 2007 the Liverpool John Moores University’s twatted-table of hazardous drinkers. Englefield Green: home in 1852 to England’s final fatal duel. A village honeymooned by Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. Almost stockbroker belt.
Forged at the congruence of two intemperate lines of force on Harvest Road, lies the Happy Man. A hostelry slaking the communal thirst for a century and more. Academics and airport workers, plumbers and professionals, taxi-driver and tradesmen, students; all pay homage to this temple to Bacchus. Incubus and succubus to the Royal Holloway College, child of Thomas Holloway, quack purveyor of pills and potions. French-Gothic design of William Crossland, namesake of a campus bar. Architect of local loony-asylum turned unaffordable homes. A land where Russian ex-pats, those who profane Putin, experience an alarmingly high suicide rate. Englefield Green, feeding off the Ballardian Badlands of Heathrow. Edgelands of London’s orbital.
The Happy Man: two Victorian cottages morphed into four rickety bars, seating clad in claret, traces of nicotine cream. Four cask ales in eternal rotation. CAMRA award-winning pub. Ubiquity in absence: no Fullers, Greene King or Doom Bar. Home-made pub grub, token veggie dishes. Screening the Sport of Kings, sod Sky. Dogs more welcome than children. The Happy Man: 1970s period piece, though no antediluvian throwback: commitment to the sisterhood vouchsafed by the practice of positive discrimination, fair barmaids in their teens and early-twenties.
Amongst the reverie, heightened by fixes fed, a tactful voice may be heard: “It’s good steak & chips, for £9.25”, “No, we don’t serve fucking tea and coffee”. Belsen-chic in shape, simulacrum of the ageing rock star with all of the vices, and none of the talent, is Stef, current custodian of the cup of crapulence. Fond of both the grape and the grain, customers low in luck may witness the increasingly dubious encounter of this deliverer of dipsomania “sleepwalking with events”.
Real Ale: £3.75 – Old Rosie: £4.20
Thatcher’s Gold: £4.05 – Aspall: £4.20
Pseudo-Australian Piss Water: £3.90 – Becks Vier: £4.05
Cointreau Bombs: £2.50 – Nigerian Lager: £4.20
Kozel (Cz): £4.30 – Wife Beater: £4.30
- Jonathan Brown, “Britain’s Alcohol Problem: Our Green and Drunken Land”, Independent, 16 October 2007 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-alcohol-problem-our-green-and-drunken-land-397057.html
- Graham Dennis and Richard Williams, The Englefield Green Picture Book (Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society, 1992)
- Roger Protz (ed.), CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2016 (St Albans: CAMRA, 2015)
- Iain Sinclair, London Orbital (London: Penguin, 2003)