JOHN HOARE'S FAMILY HISTORY
Extract from "The Magic of my Youth"
by Arthur Calder-Marshall
The author, under age, visits 'the Blue Posts' public house off Tottenham Court Road (Central London)
'I pushed open the door.
Behind the bar was a peroxide blonde who pulled beer dreamily as she conversed with a red foxy-faced man sitting on a stool. Her cheeks were white with powder, her thin lips painted with greasy lipstick in a parody of passion. From home training I knew she was 'common' and probably fast. She appeared entrancingly desirable, even though she was pathetically plain and undernourished. I liked standing there not being served. It was a cheap peek at Life.
Having served customers to my right and left, she deigned to notice me. "And what do you want, son?" she asked.
The 'son' riled me (though it might have been 'sonny'). In a loud, clear voice which betrayed the timidity it was meant to disguise I said, "I want two large Elephants, please." This sentence, formulated as I hesitated outside, seemed to me a triumph of expertise, until I saw the expression on the girl's face.
"I'm sorry, son," she said; "I didn't quite catch."
A couple of large Elephants," I repeated, laying my money on the counter. "Or four small ones would do."
She turned to a managerial person by her side. "There's a young gentleman here," she said in a ringing voice, "wanting to buy elephants. Could you see to him?"
The bar was silent. The customers knew they were on, to a good thing. The Manager asked me to repeat my request. I did so with what I hoped was the proper scorn of anybody in the pub business who didn't know what an Elephant was. "There's a pet shop up the road, son," he said, "but I doubt they could give you delivery tonight." This and the roar of laughter which followed it made me realise the double entendre, but I was too ashamed to laugh myself. "Don't you," I asked with surging contempt, "don't you keep Fremlin's Elephant Ale?"
"Oh," said the barmaid. "This is a Hoare's house, sonny, not a Fremlin's. What about two large Hoares?".
Nearly capsized in the hurricane of laughter which this suggestion raised, I paid across my money, snatched the large Hoares and pushed into the street