Painting by Jay Collins
I walk into the Caroline of Brunswick straight after football practice in my red Lewes FC Vets hoodie, matching tracksuit bottoms, and trainers, worried that I’ll look weird. The COB, of course, is home to Brighton’s oddball tribes – the death metallers, the punks, the skateboard kids, the elfworld nerds.
Nobody bats an eyelid. The first thing I notice – you can’t but – is the giant three-headed papier-mache Cerberus above the bar. ‘TWO PINTS OF STAR’ I get across to the barmaid, above whatever genre of screaming rock it is that they have on. And a burger.’ Then I have a pleasant chat with a clearly tanked up but extremely pleasant young man on a stool about the fact that we’re both with Lloyds Bank.
I’m pointed out that there’s a menu, and I choose a classic burger with ‘meaty’ chips. My mate Tommy Tickle is doing the kitchen, and I know from what he’s told me that ‘meaty’ means that – just like the old days – they’re cooked in lard.
Last year the Caroline – which, thanks to a space upstairs, doubles up as a comedy/live music venue, much loved by the likes of Zoe Lyons and Seann Walsh – was under threat because Punch wanted to renew the landlord Cliff’s licence and everyone was worried that it would become another chain pub and boot out all the oddballs. There was a campaign – Caroline Lucas got involved and thousands signed a petition – and the place was saved... [read more]