Major loses face in pub

A SMILING John Major has presided over the Recession as it has gone from strength to strength in Stratford-upon-Avon. But the Prime Minister is about to suffer a terrible indignity, writes Will Bennett.

As if contemplating a U-turn on pit closures and having to issue libel writs were not enough woe for one week, Mr Major is about to have a paper bag painted over his face.

Only his spectacles will be visible outside the bag. It is a compromise which will allow drinkers at the Recession - a pub in the Warwickshire town - a chuckle, while cooling the wrath of the brewers Whitbread.

The pub, once called the One Elm, closed as the town suffered as badly as everywhere else in the recession. Eight weeks ago it reopened with a new tenant, Andy Phelps, who renamed it and put up a sign with a portrait of Mr Major sitting on a Jobcentre.

But Whitbread, which last year gave pounds 60,000 to Conservative Party funds, ordered Mr Phelps to take the sign down. Alan Cameron, spokesman for the brewers, insisted that it was not a political decision: 'We have a policy not to rename or re-theme a pub after a prominent personality unless we have their permission.'

The offending portrait is now inside the pub awaiting paper-bag treatment, while a temporary replacement, with 'This sign has been censored by the establishment' on it, is outside.