SHOCKING, what kids have for their dinner nowadays.
The buildings around One are almost exclusively takeaways and, at school chucking out time, they are full of ravenous, uniformed schoolchildren, gorging like pigs on over-processed carbohydrate and deep fried sinew, power-hosed and then reconstituted from soggy ribcages long after even the dogfood manufacturers have gobbled up their allotment.
It’s a depressing reality.
As is One, a dreadful place to have a drink.
From outside, the venue makes a good impression, a grandiose three-storey building dwarfing the terrace on the end of which it sits, like a defiant middle finger raised to all the good pubs in the world.
It was busy for a Thursday afternoon and I fancied cider so I took my bottle of Bulmers Red to a table by the door and people-watched.
My attention was drawn to a trio of drinkers clustered around a table in the middle of the room who had clearly been there for some time.
Foul and extremely loud of mouth, they were properly arguing about something, literally bellowing into each other’s alcohol-ravaged faces.
Flecked with spit and smelling vaguely of urine, they got louder and louder and threatened to spill over into violence until the trio instantly forgot their differences thanks to the quite unexpected arrival of two attention-seeking dogs.
Like only warmed-up drunks can, they foisted affection on the mutts and then wildly over-compensated with their friendliness when a woman tried to leave the pub by a locked exit.
From screaming expletives to cordially showing a lady the right door - to think, some people still doubt the mitigating effects of domestic pets on high blood pressure.
You can’t blame a pub for the behaviour of its clientele and One does have some things going for it.
The barman, for example, was friendly and served me straight away. The choice of drinks is good – there’s an understandable nod toward draught lager but there’s a long list of exotic-sounding cocktails on a chalkboard behind the bar and a fridge full of different bottled beers and lagers. But the decor is stark and cold and is scruffy. The toilets were unpleasant.
Does it do food? Who cares? For one thing, I would not want to eat there and for another, there must be 25 kebab/burger places within 100 yards of One, plus other choices - I spotted a lovely looking cake shop just up the hill.
But One’s real let-down is the atmosphere. I felt intimidated by the screaming row going on six feet away from me but no-one else in the pub seemed to care or even notice.
A sign on the back of the rancid toilets invites dissatisfied patrons to complain to management. I contemplated approaching the barman but feared we both would have died of old age before I got to the end of my list.
How One rates:
DECOR * (squalid, for the most part)
DRINK *** (decent enough selection)
PRICE *** (reasonable for this neck of the woods)
ATMOSPHERE * (intimidating)
STAFF *** (friendly)
Address: One, 1 Lee High Road, Lewisham, SE13 5LD
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