I was just walking back up from meeting a friend in North Laine, where we’d had a drink in the friendly (if a little pricey) White Rabbit pub, when I noticed the Bear Inn off the Lewes Road had a sign in its entrance that I hadn’t noticed before: ‘LOCALS ONLY’, it said, ‘ID REQUIRED’. I stood there and stared at it for a few seconds to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood – this is Brighton, after all – and then continued on my way.
You have to provide ID proving you live in a BN postcode area. Now, it may be that something has happened with a non-local which has prompted the landlord to put up a notice to this effect. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But when I was looking it up on the internet, I found someone had tweeted a picture of an old sign with similar wording.
Brighton, as most people know, is one of the most tolerant cities in the country. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what colour your skin is, what sexuality you are, what your mother tongue is, whether you’re rich or broke. As long as you’re a nice person, that’s all that counts in Brighton. So to find that notice here, of all places, did shock me. Quite honestly, I’m disgusted. Laz and I have not been in that pub and now I’m glad we haven’t. I won’t be patronising them with my custom, even if I could produce something that says I live in Brighton (which I can’t). Students, of course, remain welcome. Of course they do. In they come, with this pub slap bang in the middle of the route from the universities into town, bringing their student money with them. To me, this smacks of the worst kind of hypocrisy, a trait I can’t stand.
There are plenty of other pubs in Brighton who will welcome anyone no matter where they’re from. OK, so when the March for England came through, only one pub remained open to serve them – but then Brightonians are none too keen on fascists, so this was hardly surprising. But generally, anyone is welcome. Be you covered in tattoos and piercings with a Mohican hair-do, a floaty hippie with an even floatier skirt, gay, straight, or somewhere in between, Brighton will welcome you. So what makes the Bear Inn so fucking special that they refuse to serve you if you’re not local?
Come on, guys, lighten up. If you can’t, you’re in the wrong place.