Monday, 10 October 2022

My first night at the resurrected Lamb and Flag


A friend asked me along to the opening night on 6th October 2022 and I said no – it will be too crowded. Then, irresolute as ever, I relented and went along, alone, at about 8.30pm. As expected it was heaving – but not uncomfortably so. The bar-less and unfurnished front room was pretty full and the noise level was, to my ears, near to the threshold of pain as alcohol fuelled conversations battled for acoustic supremacy. I pressed on towards the remaining bar with a nod of appreciation at the piano now gracing the east wall.

I stood for a while taking in the space where I had spent so many happy hours chatting or just drinking alone, sharing my thoughts with an ever-changing set of hand pumps and leafing through the latest Oxford Drinker, the CAMRA magazine. The space was the same, yet different. The interesting alcoves were either curtained over or missing, the ceiling was now lined with wooded planks, the bar surface was much wider, and the place was jam-packed with youngish, happy people. But there were two proud sets of hand pumps just as before and they were serving up interesting beers - as before. I settled for Rude Not To from Amwell Springs. It’s my sort of real ale at the moment: pale and a little tangy, but smooth and refreshing – I stuck to it which is unusual for me. The bar itself was a crush, but the people behind it were both pleasant and efficient and the ambience enjoyable, even though there are still renovations to be completed.

I spotted only one person that I knew, which surprised me. He was talking to one of the community group, The Inklings, that brought this place back to life. He turned out to be a newcomer to Oxford, and I shared memories of China with his wife, though the general hub-bub made conversation difficult for me. Finished the evening back in the now depleted front room talking to an interesting young man from Stroud who ran a bar at weekends and I thought, “great, this is how the Lamb and Flag should be: excellent ale, interesting company and a complete lack of that corporate feel so common to many city centre pubs”.

I doubt that the original Inklings could have tolerated the all encompassing sound level, but I am sure that Tolkien and Lewis would have appreciated the ale and congratulated the new Inklings on their rescue of this jewel of an Oxford pub. I congratulate the New Inklings on this resurrection – it would be Rude Not To.

 Take a look at my video of the pub made before the resurrection

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