PubSpy found that the Sultan in Lee High Road, above, has the sort offriendliness which is so rare in pubs these days (Photopress)

UNDER new management. Everybody welcome" screams the sign in thewindow of The Sultan in Lee High Road. If you compare it to the other pubsin Lewisham town centre, it has to be said this pub doesn't exactlylook welcoming from the outside.

But rather than opt to go drinking in one of the many theme pubs in thearea, I decided to chance my arm at this curious little gaff.

I've visited every other pub on the Lee High Road before, but forone reason or another I'd always given The Sultan a wide berth.

Accompanied by my most trusted left-hand-man, we went forth.

The inside of this pub is almost all original wooden panelling, whichimmediately give the place a cosy and warm feeling.

We were greeted with prompt service from an obviously professionalbarman. He didn't know us from Adam, but still took the time to bepolite and friendly.

I don't know why this is, but I always find male barstaff to be muchmore polite and attentive than females.

I don't want to generalise too much though, because I've comeacross some very good-natured barmaids in the past -- at The SydneyArms and The Rising Sun (Eltham) for example.

The lager at The Sultan was quite fair by Lewisham prices and actuallyvery palatable.

We started off in the public bar, which was completely empty.

From where we were standing, we could see people in the lounge bardancing to rock and roll music and generally having a good laugh.

After a quick game of pool (which, incidentally, I won), we decided toventure next door and join in the fun.

Almost immediately we were accosted by a short, drunken Cockney charactersmoking a roll-up who proceeded to sing us a few tunes about his favouritefootball team.

Rather than taking offence, I found this very amusing. It's nicer tohave someone singing to you than staring at you.

To the barman's credit, he intervened and politely asked theloveable old sot to lay off the songs and leave us in peace.

People were singing and even dancing along to rock and roll music and BobMarley and generally having a tremendous laugh.

One guy tried to put some tunes on the juke box, but he was so drunk Idon't think he could actually read the track listings.

But rather than get angry or fall over, he turned round and asked me toput some music on for him.

This is the sort of friendliness which is so rare in pubs these days.

The Sultan is not a good bet for young groups on the razzle, or even anideal family boozer. But it is a pub for friendly, real people who enjoytheir drink.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000.Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.