The White Hart, Drury Lane

The initial stop on yesterday’s pub crawl claims to be the oldest licenced premises in London. But evidence for its antiquity is in short supply – it’s been refitted three times in the last decade and while the latest version is an improvement on its previous ‘It’s A Scream’ status, The White Hart is still a difficult pub to love.

The interior seems to have been put together without much thought as to practicality. It’s possible to block off the back end of the pub almost entirely just by filling a couple of tables; odd steps and banister-like barriers can restrict the drinker’s movement; and the touchscreen quiz machine has been placed right in front of a pillar so that only the lankiest of punters can properly use it. There’s a slightly pompous notice on the wall explaining that the refurb is designed to help customers “rediscover the art of conversation”, how the slightly bilious colour scheme and oddly non-specific decor fit into this I don’t know. There’s a weird atmosphere to the White Hart, a feeling of impermanence – it was only towards the end of my drink that I hit on what the place reminded me of. “It’s like a lobby in search of a Harvester”.