Tue Jul 23, 2019 London
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WILDCARDS

The free spirits

Norman Balon

Norman Balon

“London’s rudest landlord” enjoyed causing offence more than anything else. Following on from his father’s purchase of the lease of Soho’s The Coach & Horses pub in 1943 Norman “You’re Barred” Balon worked there and then later, as landlord, presided over “prostitutes, gays, lesbians and a bit of the theatre community”. When a visiting rugby player asked for a Snakebite, his response was: “We don’t do cocktails here. Get out!” A Sikh customer was asked: “You’re not a fackin’ Muslim are you?” When he answered no, the bombastic landlord answered: “All right, you can stay then”. Balon states he chose to retire in 2006 “because all my customers are my age and one by one they’re dropping off their bar stools” before concluding that he hoped more of them would die abroad as then he’d be able to avoid “the cheap shit they serve at wakes”. The hospitality industry (sadly) doesn’t allow for the existence of characters like this anymore.

Comments

1 comment on “Norman Balon”

  1. It was Jeffery Bernard who made him really famous via his Spectator Low Life column. He may have been rude, but he ran an efficient pub where the staff were polite and quick to serve you. Characters and boozers like these are part of disappearing Soho as it becomes increasingly bland.

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