Susie Rushton: Urban Notebook

My Saturday night in Madonna's pub
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The Independent Online

Who'd be Madonna? As if rumours of a marital wobble and criticism of her face weren't enough, there is more unhappy news – and this isn't the revelation that Guy Ritchie has commissioned a Banksy portrait for her 50th birthday next weekend. (That'll be a dirty great big stencil, right? Lovely.)

In February, the couple bought shares in a Mayfair pub for a rumoured £2.5m. Now The Punch Bowl has been accused of price-fixing, with customers complaining that tourists are charged 40p per pint more than "regulars".

Previously owned by Greg Foreman, the son of gangster Freddie Foreman, the 18th century hostelry is a favourite with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Barbra Streisand. Madonna herself is said to "love the beer". Uninterested in Mrs Ritchie's taste in ale but half-wild with curiosity about the type of tavern Streisand frequents, I dropped by the Punch Bowl for a round of beverages.

At 9pm on a Saturday night, the atmosphere is flatter than a day-old pint of Bombardier (for naturally it specialises in self-consciously English ales). A handful of moneyed, bored-looking punters watch a party of women sing karaoke.

The tasteful flagstone floor, big portrait of Winston Churchill over the fireplace and ostentatious display of vintage champagnes are more Olde London Pubbe in downtown Toronto than local boozer. That said, the niggling issue of pricing appears to be straightened out, and a proper price list is now on display: £12 bought four drinks. Not too bad. But I still can't recommend it.

Star's bars have bad form in London. You can't throw a cat in Los Angeles without hitting a successful celebrity-owned establishment. Here, they have all failed to turn their fame into a catering fortune. It was but a faint hope that the proprietor herself would be playing Peggy Mitchell, giving her cock-er-nee husband what-for and then popping down to the bar for a good old sing-song. It'd be good for business, and might even cheer up the old bird.

The Games' best seat

The drama of swimming, the precision of archery and the beauty of male gymnastics: I'm glued to the Olympics.

Nevertheless, I can think of no reason why I'd struggle across this town to sit in a seat in Stratford and watch the action live, as Tessa Jowell would have me do.

Bonnie and hide

Fans of good taste beware. Leather trousers are making a comeback – and so are black lace blouses. In the sacred name of Bonnie Tyler I do hope nobody will be foolish enough to use these two trends at once.

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