Tuesday, 30 September 2008


A year ago, while in court, I heard a sorry story about a man who had been physically and sexually abused by the Christian Brothers in Ireland while attending an Industrial School.

I had not heard of this scandal before and have since read a few books on the subject from a genre that I believe is now called "tragic life stories".

The latest read, Founded on Fear by Peter Tyrrell tells the story of his days at Letterfrack Industrial School and a similar story of such abuse.

However what caught my eye, for this blog at least, was this passage about his arrival in London (via Liverpool) as a very naive, damaged, young man in 1935.

My feet were getting sore so I strolled into a busy pub. I didn't know what kind of drinks the customers were having so thought I would listen to hear a few giving their orders and ask for the same.

It would be a terrible thing to ask for something not on sale in case they thought I was stupid or silly or in any way different to themselves. My ambition was to get along without being noticed. The barman served me a pint of beer without anyone even glancing my way.

I was now sitting on a small stool by the door and it was lovely and cool. The beer tasted wonderful and it was cheap at 5d a pint. The stout or porter at home was more expensive and I could never drink it. It was the colour that put me off. It reminded me of Cascara, a medicine my mother gave me.

I was much happier and contented now. Fancy being able to walk into a pub and buy a pint of beer without people staring at you. If I bought a pint at home, everyone would be wondering who I was, where I had come from and where the money had come from. London seemed a good place and I was getting to like the people

Although this passage comes form a bygone age, some 70+ years ago, these points are still valid today in a London pub.

Ireland has the "craic" but give me a London pub any day.

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