Jon and Nick's Brockley pub crawl

A couple of weeks ago, Jon and Nick met up to share notes and to try out some of the venues that get least coverage on Brockley Central. We only managed two venues because it was a very cold day and places to drink in Brockley are very far apart.

Most pressing was the need to review The Talbot in its pre-makeover form, but first, the Brockley Barge...

When we got to the bar, the perky barmaids were playing a game of twenty questions, in-between serving the customers and cleaning the glasses. A sozzled Irish bloke, propping up the bar, regaled no-one in particular with a story that we couldn’t quite make out. But a cockney guy further down the bar responded and the two guys struck up a conversation. So, despite its cavernous nature and the presence of tacky adverts on every wall, the Barge creates a community atmosphere during the day.

It was also pretty busy and good natured – predominantly couples and family groups, making the most of the low-cost menu. They also had some suitably obscure ale, to keep Jon happy.

If they got rid of all the advertising banners and the garish carpets it wouldn’t be half-bad, but then, it wouldn’t be a Wetherspoons.

We then braced ourselves against the cold, peered in to see whether Gulens was open (of course it wasn’t) and set off for The Talbot. Walking through the streets of Brockley, we were struck by how many things along our route had been discussed on the blog, from the lovely big yellow police signs to the homemade signs, imploring people to clean up after their dogs.

Brockley Nick’s idea of a perfect pub looks something like ‘The Winchester’, from Shaun of the Dead. On the outside, The Talbot looks like the Winchester. On the inside, it looks like Shaun of the Dead. It really has been left to rot and it even had a whiff of decay. Solo-drinkers lined the bar, drinking their pints in virtual silence and reading the paper. Relics from a different era adorn the walls – our favourite being the 80s-style “Cocktails” neon tubing above the bar.

For all that, it had its charms – the barman was friendly enough and the clientele obliged when asked what the score in the football was. If The Talbot was a student union, packed with young drinkers who relished the low-rent surroundings, it could have been a lot of fun. But it wasn’t. Team Jon and Nick sat in a dark booth (the light fitting was hanging loose), feeling embarrassed to talk above a whisper.

When redone, it will be a slice of fried gold.

We’re hoping that at some point, Brockley Jon will wade in with his own thoughts and also with the photo he took of the Talbot’s snazzy glitterball.

[Update: Indeed he has, and you can also admire the textured nicotine-yellow walls...]

The Talbot looking into the main bar, via the snazzy glitterball.