‘Go girl!’ came the ear-splitting shout from the bar as one of the customers sang along to Lighthouse Family’s Ocean Drive at the top of her voice, pint of Carling held aloft as if at the 02 Arena on Saturday night, rather than a corner of a Bedminster pub on Monday afternoon.
It was the first of several Lighthouse Family songs chosen from the wall-mounted jukebox by the bar but at least it was slightly mellower than earlier.
When I arrived, the previous custodian of the jukebox had decided to liven things up a bit with back-to-back heavy rock – Night Train by Guns N’ Roses was rapidly followed by AC/DC’s Hells Bells at a volume that could quite easily shift the toughest earwax.
And the reason for such musical merriment at a pre-teatime hour when Bradley Walsh was still hosting The Chase on the TV above the door?
Well, The London Inn’s happy hour runs from 11am through to 5pm, Monday to Friday, so that may well have contributed to a livelier crowd than most pubs.
And just look at those prices chalked on the blackboard outside the red-brick corner pub with its original George’s Brewery signage. Stella, San Miguel, Carling, Courage Best and Guinness are all £2.50, with the rest (Fosters, Thatchers Haze, Ashton Press, Blackthorn and Natch) at £2.40 during the 360-minute happy hour.
And if you don’t make it in time to take advantage of these ‘cash only please’ prices, don’t worry.
After 5pm, prices are still much lower than many places – my San Miguel was only £3 a pint, a considerable saving compared to many pubs within walking distance.
With its L-shaped room wrapped around the bar, pool table at the back and small sunny garden, this grey-painted pub has hosted Bedminster locals since the 18th-century when it was a coaching inn, although the current building was built in the late 1890s. There are plenty of framed black and white photos of the pub the walls for those customers interested in a bit of Bemmy nostalgia.
Food isn’t really high on the agenda here although a few £1 filled rolls on the bar and packets of Golden Wonder (none of those trendy crisp brands here) are available should hunger pangs strike.
It was nearly 6pm when I left and the pub was getting busier as regulars claimed seats in readiness for the Monday night karaoke (7pm-midnight).
‘Shaz, it’s your turn to put the music on the jukebox,’ shouted one woman as I returned my empty glass to the bar.
With Beautiful South blasting out and hearty renditions of Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud) bouncing off the walls, the London Inn regulars were certainly warming up nicely for the karaoke evening ahead.
Next time, I’ll stay to watch it. In fact, if I arrive early enough for happy hour, I may well be joining them.
The London Inn, 1 Cannon Street, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 1BH.
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