Sunday, 3 November 2013

Some Survive

Pubs, in this case. I have just been reminding myself (in Google Street View) or where, years ago, I'd sometimes encounter some cats in a particular road in Wimbledon. This is (and was then) Merton Hall Road, which comes out opposite the hospital where I was born – the Nelson Hospital in Kingston Road.

On that junction was Ye Olde Leather Bottel; and the pub' is still there, or at least it was the last time the Google camera car passed that way last year, so it's probably a safe bet. Its updated but less stylish name signs now say simply 'Leather Bottle', so in a sense it has both changed its name and kept it the same!

Turn right into Kingston Road and carry on along to the railway bridge at Wimbledon Station, and just beyond, on the left, is a less happy story. The Emma Hamilton is now boarded up. It was still there, and obviously running as it always had, when the camera car had passed that way before, as I could tell, having known the place from the outside since my youth – and inside from when I was eighteen, back in 1967.

It was old then, so had been able to keep going for many decades.

The primary reason being cited for pub' closures is Labour's somewhat ham-fisted smoking ban, and no doubt this was the cause here too. It took some places longer than others to finally give up after trying to keep going one way or another, and it has to be said that the 'Emms' (as we locals knew the place) did well to last this long – but now it's gone...

I have said before, on more than one occasion, that when a country has a corrupt law that treats some of those people or things it is deemed to cover in a different way from the others, any change to other laws, regulations, taxes or whatever will be almost certain to generate perverse effects. Tobacco products should have been included with all the other drugs many, many years ago; then this and other oddball results wouldn't have been on the cards in the first place. There wouldn't have been a need for a selective (i.e. in certain places only) smoking ban at all.

Similarly to the Emms, the Britannia close to Chatham Station and not far from my present home has also been struggling for some time. The previous landlord tried introducing all sorts of innovations and tweeted the (necessarily brief) details. Then he went a few months ago – but now it too is closed and looks as though it might be permanent, so his replacement obviously wasn't successful either.

The world is always moving on, of course; and interestingly – back at the Leather Bottle – the restaurant on the opposite corner was once a Tapas Bar. That lasted only a couple of years or so, and it has changed a few times since. It is currently Thai cuisine.

A few doors down was Sagar Tandoori. Sagar sold the business to Shamas who ran Zayka in Ealing, and it became the second Zayka. I advised Shamas and supported his excellent eaterie strongly, including getting no less than Fay Maschler to visit and write a review in her regular newspaper feature.

Again, like the Emms, after a long innings – almost twenty years by my reckoning – Zayka in Wimbledon has closed, similarly between the earlier visit of the Google camera car and its latest sweep through the area. Intriguingly, it is now, of all things, a Tapas Bar!

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