The story about leading Vote Leave figures meeting for an important Brexit strategy session at a south London Wetherspoon's would have brought a wry smile to the faces of many in the trade.

Not just because The Moon Under Water, in Balham, is not the most salubrious of pubs in that particular neighbourhood; but because of the name.

Many will know that it is taken from George Orwell's famous 1946 essay about his ideal pub. The joke being that The Moon Under Water is a mirage: try to touch it and it won't be there.

Whether a successful Brexit is also an illusion is for others to commentate on and debate. However, it does raise the question as to what constitutes the perfect pub.

Even though it was published in the Evening Standard a whole 71 years and a month ago, much of what Orwell wants in a pub (at least a London one) remains true.

He speaks of 'atmosphere' being the 'thing that appeals to me'. To this day that is what usually comes out on top when people are surveyed about what they want from a pub.

Fires and Victorian architecture with no 'glass topped tables' tell us how Orwell wanted his pub to look – with the 'solid comfortable ugliness of the nineteenth century'. Again, many pub regulars prefer comfort and tradition to new-fangled design trends.



Orwell wants games such as darts but in his pub he puts an emphasis on conversation, so radios and pianos are a definite no-no. I doubt we would find him settling in with the masses to watch live sport on a big screen; that's one thing his Moon Under Water has in common with its Balham namesake.

Beer ranks highly with the author, as indeed does glassware – 'they are particular about their drinking vessels at the Moon Under Water.' So are today's customers, but perhaps not quite so particular as brand owners.

He also puts an emphasis on food. At this pub you can get a 'good, solid lunch' six days a week. There he goes, just like in 1984, predicting the future. This time he is essentially seeing the importance food holds for pubs.



Even more incredibly, he also hints at the diversification of pubs. He wants them to sell aspirins and stamps, which is now happening across the country. Many, thanks to schemes such as Pub is the Hub, are going further by operating Post Offices as part of the business.

Customer service is important to Orwell too, with the barmaids at the pub knowing the names of the regulars and taking 'a personal interest in everyone'. For many pub customers that personal touch is what separates the best pubs from the rest.

While the pub industry has faced unprecedented challenges and evolved considerably in the last decade it is comforting to see that what made a great pub in Orwell's day remains largely true in the 21st Century.

And if your pub can do half of the things that make The Moon Under Water so desirable then your pub will be more than a mirage: it will be a place where people across the generations will want to socialise.

As for Brexit, well that's another story.