Simon the Tanner may sound like the name of a character you’d expect to find in popular childrens’ TV shows of yesteryear such as The Magic Roundabout, Ivor the Engine or Trumpton,but it’s not, it’s the name of a boozer in Bermondsey, south London.
Sadly, the image of Simon, Windy Miller, Zebedee and Jones the Steamgetting together for a few beers before heading to a West End nightspot with Trumptonshire firefighters Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb in search of cheap thrills, will have to stay firmly entrenched in the backwaters of my mind.
I must confess, before I stumbled across this pub I’d never heard of it, but with a name like that curiosity got the better of me and I just had to check it out.
I made my way to the bar under the watchful eye of Jacky Onassis, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor whose colourful printed portraits made famous by Andy Warhol are mounted on the wall. Nearby stood a piano with a couple of stools.
My first impression of the place is that it’s small, neatly decorated and welcoming. The atmosphere was relaxed, quiet and ideal for supping ale while reading a newspaper.
The pub was sparsely populated, but those punters present were certainly dressed to impress.
The Simon the Tanner is not the kind of place for scruffs or pot-bellied pint-swillers, oh no, and if you happen to be a chav, then you might as well forget it and head to the nearest Wetherspoons because this is a boozer with a classier clientele.
If I wore a tight short-sleeved checked shirt then you’d better duck for cover because there’s every chance you’d get hit by popping buttons and, for what it’s worth, I left my drainpipe trousers back in the summer of 1986 after needing the help of my sister to take them off on one occasion.
It wasn’t the time to be wearing my saggy old Dennis the Menace boxer shorts.
I got down to business and ordered a pint of Pale Beauty (4.7%), brewed by Twickenham Fine Ales. It was light, hoppy and crispy, and set me up nicely for an afternoon’s drinking.
The Simon the Tanner, which has had a turbulent recent history, looks like it’s been given a fresh lick of pastille paint, and as a result, it has a new lease of life. It still manages to retain a traditional charm while moving with the times and it’s good to see the place thriving once again.
I have to be honest, I don’t have any reasons to return to Bermondsey, but Simon The Tanner’s weekly piano sessions might well be worth checking out.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: SIMON THE TANNER, 231 Long Lane, Bermondsey, SE1 4PR.
020 7357 8740 www.simonthetanner.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: *** Chilled and relaxed. The music, which featured The Waterboys hit The Whole of the Moonand Suede’s Animal Nitrate, wasn’t too loud.
DECOR: *** There’s no need for fancy bells and whistles here, just a pastille paintjob with a nice wooden floor and furniture. Very tasteful.
SERVICE: **** The lass who served me was very pleasant and knowledgeable about the ales and lagers.
PRICE: *** £3.20 for my pint of Pale Beauty is pretty decent.
SELECTION: ** A small, but, good choice of ales which also included AdnamsLighthouse, Champflower Ale by Cottage Brewing down in Somerset and Pale Beauty by Twickenham Fine Ales. There was a good array of lagers, for those who like their bubbles, including Konig Pilsner (£3.80).
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The pub has a quiz night every Tuesday night. Woohoo.