DECOR **** (warm and classic) DRINK ***** (impressive range of beers and wines) PRICE *** (reasonable) ATMOSPHERE *** (sleepy) STAFF ***** (attentive, friendly and knowledgeable)

LIVING life to the full is all about extremes — alcoholic or teetotal, straight or gay, young or old, working class scum or poncey posh pillock.

Anything in between is so dull you might as well dig your own dusty grave now and vanish into obscurity where you belong.

So sitting with a pint of darkly delicious Old Speckled Hen (£2.95) in the Hare and Billet, I realised how suffocatingly boring the middle classes are.

With a yummy mummy discussing baby bitten nipples in one corner, an old man reading The Times in another and a group of suited office workers getting slowly sozzled by the window, I began to miss the edgy danger of drinking in a rundown dive where the closest you get to sophistication is a soggy beermat to rest your dripping pint on.

Give me a filthy rich socialite or a grimy tracksuit bottomed chav any day over this almost unbearable banality.

However, as the rain sluiced down across the heath, I decided to take advantage of the pub’s inertia and catch up on my reading matter.

And what better accompaniment to my Stieg Larsson than a large glass of decadent red wine?

With its smooth richness, sweet and sour fruits and devilishly spicy undertones, the XIV Secola Chianti (£4.50) was a dreamy treat.

Feeling pleasantly tipsy, my initial reservations about the Hogshead-owned boozer gave way to a feeling of deep content and mild euphoria at finally being able to just sit and relax, after weeks of enduring the offensive racket of drunken bigots and blaring jukeboxes.

Decorated in classic but soft understated colours and with wooden floors, tables and chairs, it has a warmth which many chain pubs lack.

Although, the chandeliers with faux flickering flames are overkill.

There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to choosing your favourite tipple either, with plenty of ales on tap and more wine on the menu than in the vaults of a Provencal chateaux.

If you’re the indecisive type, don’t fret because the attentive and knowledgeable bar staff will point you in the right direction and will even pour you a taster if you’re still unsure.

Like the surrounding area, this pub is very much in the eye of the storm, a respectable oasis with crime hotspots Lewisham and Kidbrooke just around the corner.

And like the heath, which is supposedly the burial site of plague victims, I couldn’t help thinking the polite, neatly dressed punters in the pub were hiding some dark, dirty secret or two.

Unlike the unwashed masses, who tend to wash their dirty laundry in public, the middle classes conceal their insecurities and scandals.

But peer behind their carefully built facade of domestic bliss and I’m sure you’ll find something more interesting than appearances first suggest.

Perhaps The Hare’s clientele are not so tedious after all, so next time I’m bringing my spade to dig up some plague stinking dirt on them.