Friday, 2 August 2013

The Golden Eagle - Marylebone

59 Marylebone Ln, London W1U 2NY

Just off Oxford Street there's a pub which proudly proclaims in mile-high letters above the door to be 'A Traditional Pub'. I've never visited this pub and it may be one of the best in London. Given the location, I can see the appeal of a sign which will attract throngs of Japanese tourists to stand outside taking photographs and perhaps even buy a drink. However, it strikes me that a truly traditional pub wouldn't have such a sign: by virtue of the fact that it's not a traditional thing for a pub to do. A publicans Catch-22 if you will.

Not a long skip away there is a truly traditional pub. Nestled beside the fancy restaurants, expensive handbag shops, and orange Lamborghinis of Marylebone sits The Golden Eagle. This is a pub where the doors are taller than the floor is wide, where the carpet is worn to threads where the regulars stand, and an ageing pianist with the middle-name of 'Fingers' hammers out old cockney classics, including the underplayed 'Hitler Has Only Got One Ball'. 

The Eagle is like a living exhibit from the Imperial War Museum. Nicholas Lyndhurst sits at the bar in a trilby, white crosses of tape adorn the windows, and a small boy will run in shouting that El Alamein has fallen if you stand still for long enough.

Judging by the neighbours, you would have thought that high rates would have forced this waxwork back to Lambeth. References to the barman's name suggest that a loyal clientele keep the place going, and perhaps post-work drinks on a Friday inject sufficient cash to cover the quiet times. Being such a 'traditional' pub though, were it to consider closing the European Union should surely step in with a cultural subsidy; but then perhaps 'Fingers' would need to lay off the teutonophobic songs.

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