Inside this week | Blighty boozer will go bust without British backing
Every other year this week sees the start of a major football championship, which might explain why most of the city’s regular festivals steer well clear and this issue is a bit thin on the ground.
Now, I don’t know about you, but were England, my home nation, ever to make it to a finals (yes, finals – I’m that optimistic), I’d like to think there was an Anglo pub I could go to.
The Irish pubs are great – I have happy memories of watching the 2003 Rugby World Cup in the Globe – but for that unadulterated patriotism, there’s only one boozer in town that is forever English: the Red Lion on Nikolajgade (check out their special summer offer).
But trouble is afoot. Back in recession-hit 2011, I warned you if you didn’t support English-language theatre, you’d regret it in the years to come when your kids have reached that certain age. And two years on, while theatre is thriving, the Red Lion, that last bastion of Blighty, is on its last knees.
For the pub’s landlord Martin Popplewell, the recent sunshine has been less welcome than the Northern Lights in Transylvania.
“We’ve been hit very badly, as we have no capital or cashflow and exist day by day, and the last three weeks have been financially crippling,” he revealed. “Speaking to you on a Tuesday night at 22:02, we haven’t had a customer or passer-by since 20:00.”
The list of reasons to go to the pub is long: authentic grub, real ale and cider, free pool, darts, British sport on the telly (this summer Wimbledon and the Ashes), free to access English-language DVD and book libraries, and video games.
“Many people love the place – the most common statement is how authentic the place feels and how we’ve got the best fish and chips around,” continues Popplewell, who before launching the pub was the manager of Charlie’s for five years. An inheritance then allowed him to invest everything he had, but he and his wife have since cashed in their pensions to stay afloat.
“There are very few English regulars – I don’t quite get it. And I fear a lot of them would be sad if the Red Lion closed before it even began because of a lack of support from the English-speaking community – but that will be the reality if things don’t change by August.”