Alongside a cat (yes, a cat) named ‘(Frederick Albert) Hitler’ as his barman, the landlord of the “maddest pub in Britain” Steve Cotten is not known for being the most involved of hosts. On TripAdvisor, whilst one grumbler pointed out that his attitude to diners is: “If you want to eat, bring your own food… Or use the kitchen yourself,” Devon Live noted in February 2020 that Prince Harry and Damien Hirst are “fans” of the “off-grid,” Fawlty Towers-esque The Poltimore Arms in South Molton, Devon. The pub has no website, no television, no Wi-Fi, no fruit machines and no telephones and is powered by solar panels, but for lovers of craft ales and locally produced spirits, a woman going by the name ‘The Real Ale Girl’ operates a “secret weapon… emporium” selling such in a back room.
Summing up his refreshingly no-nonsense approach to running his business, Cotten once commented: “I just make it up as I go along. I might not know how to run a pub but I know what’s wrong with every pub I’ve ever been in. There’s no landlord anywhere, nobody talks to each other. I involve the whole community – everyone knows it’s not my pub, it’s everybody’s pub… We are a dark and cold and miserable boozer – and that’s what people like about it… They all know you can do what you want here, use it for what you want, come here on your own at any time of the day or night and help yourself to a tea or coffee. Everybody will talk to everybody… You can discuss any topic under the sun here, nothing is taboo… Everyone has a go serving behind the bar, we all have a laugh and everyone joins in… No one else talks to them like crap like I do.”
Frankly, one is simply left asking: “Why aren’t there more places like this?” Cheers to Steve Cotten.