Back in 2006 when beerintheevening.com was the New Testament and hangover’s only lasted until tomorrow lunchtime, my mate Balmers and I often enjoyed a London pub crawl on a Sunday afternoon.
On a jaunt along Mile End Road one cloudy August sabbath, we chanced upon a pub called Soma. It had a horseshoe bar and windows overlooking the main drag, but what really drew us was the dystopian novelist Aldous Huxley, who named soma as the drug of his Brave New World.
It was early in the day and quiet, so when we ordered two pints of Red Stripe and launched into a Huxleyan analysis of east end pubs and their control over society we caught the attention of a woman drinking alone at a table.
She was blonde and probably in her late thirties, more than ten years our senior at the time. Nevertheless, for two single men her smile, femininity and spontaneous conversation made for a sparky introduction. We joined her. It was fun.
At some point I made my excuses and headed to the gents (this wasn’t the first pub of the day). The world has many ways to fleece you out of a pound and one of these was on the wall by the sink – a gumball machine dispensing single-use, chewable toothbrushes.
Buoyed by nothing more than the whisper of a promise only I could hear, I inserted a quid, twisted the handle and received my disappointing Kinder Surprise.
Back in the bar, it wasn’t long before the friendly woman outed herself to us. She was a lesbian, she said, and had come out a few years ago. I suppose she found us entertaining and clocked we weren’t complete tossers. Or she could smell toothpaste.
The easy tone of our conversation thus far, and more Jamaican lager beer, meant we could easily switch to the woman happily answering our innocent questions about her sexuality and life experiences. Privately, I mourned the pound coin.
The woman announced her partner was joining her in the pub soon and she would be delighted to introduce us. Terrific, we said. Another lesbian. Surely she’ll add to the craic.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. The partner arrived and was quite the opposite of her other half. She had a shock of dark cropped hair, wore a jumper of red and black hoops and wasn’t impressed with us at all. It was like meeting Dennis the Menace the day Gnasher died.
In a futile attempt to salvage the day I got in a round. As I stood at the bar, the death knell of our chance encounter sounded behind me: ‘So…which one of you mows the lawn?’
Balmers could be a wally sometimes, but you had to admire his matter-of-fact delivery.
We debriefed in the Blind Beggar on Whitechapel Road.
After the formalities of getting in a couple of pints, finding a table and christening Dennis the Menace, I told Balmers I’d wasted a nugget on a crap toothbrush from a gumball machine.
BEAVERTOWN Brewery could become the new Kenna HQ local after the chairman was spotted drinking there two weekends in a row.
The unorthodox choice is thought to stem from the delicious, cheap beer, which helps visitors overlook they’re spending the best Saturday weather of the year so far in an industrial estate carpark in Tottenham.
Sources close to the chairman say he’s tempted to make the craft beer warehouse a regular haunt.
News the chairman’s head has been turned will come as a blow to Kenna August auction venue hopeful The Westbury in N22.
Just 10 minutes’ walk from Kenna HQ and serving well-kept Brooklyn Lager, The Westbury was widely tipped to become the first pub outside zone 1 to host the auction.
Beavertown’s unusual opening hours – Saturdays only from 2pm to 8pm – are a perfect fit for the Kenna auction, but the lack of rain cover, lack of Sky Sports, lack of hooks under the bar, lack of optics and lack of Scotch egg options are all negatives.
The chairman’s successful organisation of two piss ups in a brewery is being seen as a poke in the chest to those in the Kenna committee who question his abilities to run the league.
“So long as that’s the only place he’s poking us,” said the Young Boys manager.
The chairman refused to be drawn on the subject at this morning’s press conference.
He would only confirm this week’s points would be counted on Thursday, to leave Sunday’s matches alone deciding the Narcozep Cup final between Pikey Scum and Walthamstow Reds.
The latter club made no dent in Young Boys’ lead over the weekend. Reds striker Jermaine Defoe’s performance on Wednesday night is now being touted as the manager’s final throw of the dice in his hunt for a maiden Kenna title, and possibly The Double.
Ahead of the auction the Kenna League chairman made a short address to the 16 managers gathered above The Carpenter’s Arms near Marble Arch.
Traditionally consisting of flimsy and inappropriate jokes about the cultural origins of league members, this 10th anniversary’s Fozzie Bear performance made reference to the number 10 being linked to the average age children are radicalised in Somalia…after reading Treasure Island…as part of the school curriculum.
A classic auction photo. See how the additional challenge of rampant alcoholism has this manager consider tabling a bid for West Bromwich Albion reserve goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
Managers arriving at Marble Arch tube station that day were greeted by a ‘Free Palestine’ demonstration, which most of them ignored. Except the Piedmonte manager, who turned up to the auction late carrying a placard.
Is this the last ever photo of the Bramble Jersey? The Wigan Athletic shirt thought to have been worn by the notorious defender were among the league effects to disappear after the auction when an errant taxi driver cheesed it.
The fate of Le Maillot Merde, the Bramble bell, auction hammer, Kenna HQ keys and pornographic playing cards are still at the mercy of the Transport for London lost property department.
This year’s auction took six hours, which is a test of stamina for any fantasy football manager. For the Fat Ladies boss, returning to the league after a few years, the event proved too much on liquid alone and he cracked.
Alexander the Great, on some ancient campaign, came across the Gordian Knot: a piece of rope so tangled that the greatest minds in the known world could not untie it. Alexander solved the problem by chopping through the knot with his sword.
Here the Judean Peoples’ Front manager talks a similar approach to a conundrum that has bugged the Kenna since the public smoking ban. How does a pub-based fantasy football auction that usually takes place in upstairs rooms allow managers to chuff on a tab and take part in proceedings?
The chairman thought long and hard about the how best to spend this sum and came up with master plan of half a case of champagne. For those looking to organise their own fantasy football auction, this worked well as managers were instantly talkative and engaged in proceedings.
One learning point for the future would be to not buy as much champagne, for after a couple of hours there was a definite lull. After that memories are sketchy.
KENNA HQ has put out an urgent lost property alert across London after a black taxi disappeared with items essential to the league on Saturday night.
The Bramble Jersey, auction hammer and literally the keys to Kenna HQ among the effects lost following an unusual chain of events on Regent Street at around 11pm.
The chairman and two Kenna managers were making their way from the pre-season fantasy football auction at The Carpenter’s Arms in Marylebone to meet other league members for a debrief at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square.
Disembarking from a London black taxi to retrieve fare payment from a cash machine, the chairman’s party were stunned to find upon return that the cabbie had ‘done one’.
The joy of realising they had skipped a £15 fare was soon overtaken by anxiety when the chairman revealed all the Kenna auction equipment was still in the taxi.
“It was most singular,” the chairman told the Transport for London lost property office this morning. “There was a black bag containing an old HP laptop, a Wigan Athletic Titus Bramble shirt and the keys to Kenna HQ, as well as a wooden wine box holding an Alpine cow bell, a bicycle horn and two decks of pornographic playing cards.
“Aside from the playing cards, these items are of little value to anyone but absolutely essential to the smooth running of the Kenna League auction.”
The incident marred what had otherwise been a great day in celebration of the Kenna’s 10th anniversary auction.
A total of 17 managers battled through a Free Palestine rally to take part in proceedings in the upstairs room of a most welcoming pub The Carpenter’s Arms, with one manager linked live via Skype from Switzerland.
Taking on the whole network during licensed hours would be optimistic and unnecessary, so on Saturday 2 November 2013 just after 1pm tipplers gathered at Kennington underground station to visit a pub for each stop of the Charing Cross branch.
The route offers excellent highlights of London’s famous landmarks and includes a river crossing. As always, this review is provided to advise and entertain the prospective pub crawler, walker or tourist. Here’s the itinerary:
Kennington – The Prince of Wales
Waterloo – The Kings Arms
Embankment – The Princess of Wales
Charing Cross – The Harp
Leicester Square – The Porcupine
Tottenham Court Road – Bradleys Spanish Bar
Goodge Street – The Rising Sun
Warren Street – The Prince of Wales Feathers
Euston – The Crown and Anchor
Mornington Crescent – The Lyttleton Arms
Camden Town – The Worlds End
Each heading below links through to the pub profile page on the excellent Beerintheevening.com.
A gem anyone would be happy to call their local. The Prince of Wales is set in the corner of a quiet square with a couple of tables and chairs outside, and a cosy snug.
Sutcliffe, Binksy and the Kenna League chairman became the only three crawlers to continue their unblemished attendance record. They were joined by the Young Boys of Vauxhall manager, the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, Lady Norman and sundry others.
One pint down, the short walk to Kennington station was taken for the route’s only tube journey. Unlike the two previous crawls, the sun was out.
Sutcliffe: What can I say? Nice choice of carpet (matched my shirt). Quiet backstreet boozer. I think we shocked the locals.
Dazza: Nice area. Standard pub. Impressive carpet design like Sutcliffe’s shirt, although I think the shirt had more stains. People outside seemed confused why we were taking a photo.
There are many other pubs closer to Waterloo station but they cannot compete with this firm favourite, let down only by the lack of apostrophe in the signage.
The public bar and saloon bar are served by a central counter with a singular recruitment policy. The curious conservatory area out the back was closed and pieces of a fireplace blocked a door onto the Victorian splendour of Roupell Street.
An open fire roared in the public bar where Rounders and Simon were found Kenting it up. The former Wandsworth Window Lickers manager arrived and within minutes was telling his Nurburgring story to the first person who listened.
Drinks finished, the crowd walked back past Waterloo station, alongside the Royal Festival Hall and over the River Thames, where Simon’s story of investigating Kent dogging spots as a local reporter prompted Binksy to enlighten everyone with the phrase ‘seagulling‘. Car windscreens will never look the same again.
Sutcliffe: The ‘back’ was closed due to building work which meant we had to squeeze into the tiny public bar. Nice place with staff who are very understanding when you’re drunk (from experience). Unfortunately it’s usually full of rich local bankers and lawyers who wish they were working class (a la Jamie Oliver) complete with plummy mockney accents and flat caps from Harrods. Some of the team fitted right in here.
Dazza: Small and pokey. Quite dark and bloody hot in there.
The Wandsworth Window Lickers manager: A lovely pub, as always serving up some delicious beer. Shame about having a chimney by the front door.
Sutcliffe: I don’t really remember much about this one which is probably as good a description as it needs.
Dazza: Bit more trendy, very sporty. Expensive drinks. Steep stairway to the toilets, or maybe I was starting to feel drunk at that point, not sure. Michael Buble (not in person I hasten to add, that would be awesome) playing in the toilets which was nice to whistle to while taking a piss.
The Wandsworth manager: I believe that this was the introduction of the first 50p. Well done the chairman for seeing it off. Average pub, nothing to report.
Crossing the Strand, crawlers were treated to one of the West End’s more compelling pubs.
The Harp has a great range of beers, although patrons are made to enjoy them in a narrow, crowded atmosphere. Unusually for an Irish pub, singing is not allowed. The sour member of staff who ordered crawlers to stop made one wonder if, for a place named after a stringed musical instrument, the barmaids should not appear more regularly plucked.
Having claimed the chairman in the Princess, the 50p game struck the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, who was still complaining of a night shift and three hours’ sleep.
Sutcliffe: Cosy, little place (small and over-crowded) with an impressive collection of beer pump clips.
Dazza: Impressive collection of beer mats. Narrow pub with beer-goggle looking staff behind the bar. Lots of portraits on the wall, can’t remember who they were of though.
The Wandsworth manager: Interesting boozer with a seven per cent beer called Black Jesus, not for the faint-hearted, no-one manned up. I was given serious grief for drinking from a bottle. In hindsight I wish I had stuck to these.
The Porcupine sits halfway up Charing Cross Road in a swirl of tourism. Refraining from any jokes about the place being a bit pokey or full of pricks, more crawlers found themselves necking pints of ice cold, gassy lager because of the 50p coin dropped into the bottom.
Being part of the Nicholson’s chain, the décor goes for the ‘Olde London like Jack the Ripper used to take a drink there guv’nor’ that few of that pub franchise manage to pull off. The Porcupine is no exception.
Sutcliffe: Dull, touristy, but a reliable watering hole
Dazza: I think the Still Don’t Know Yet manager 50p’d me in there. I managed to pass it on to Martin’s mate. Sutcliffe has a photo of him holding the 50p. Sutcliffe got rather excited as it was really in focus!
The Wandsworth manager: Another 50p in play, goosed! Here starts the slippery slope, besides that not a bad boozer.
This bar’s website has a whole section dedicated to their ‘pride and joy and centrepiece’ – a jukebox that plays vinyl. As they crammed into the tiny bar area of Bradleys five pints down, many crawlers were rebuked by staff for knocking into the music box and causing it to skip.
Retreating outside to the quiet street just behind Tottenham Court Road station, a pint of Cruzcampo became the first casualty of the day when it smashed into the pavement.
This is a great bar, if you’re one of the five people in it.
Sutcliffe: Nice Spanish back street bar. I imagine it has character but I was getting too pissed to remember at this stage. I remember Dazza getting shouted at for repeatedly bumping into the vinyl jukebox. Someone dropped their pint. I think we disgraced ourselves.
Dazza: Wasn’t this one the Spanish bar? Really small. I fell against the jukebox and skipped the track which the locals didn’t like. Someone dropped a glass outside so I’m sure the regulars loved us frequenting their dark pit of a bar.
The Wandsworth manager: Classic “don’t touch the f*cking jukbox” I believe was heard as someone again made the record jump. First breakage of the night and 50ps flying round all over the place.
Calls throughout the day to watch the football were briefly met when crawlers filed into a packed Rising Sun. Several large screens high up on the walls of this airy pub transmitted events from Ashburton Grove to a sea of upturned faces.
Sutcliffe: Don’t remember this one. I think Dazza didn’t come in due to mounting drunkeness.
Dazza: Really crowded. Much bigger bar. Lots of sport on TV. Took me ages to find the toilets (which were right by the front door). Getting seriously pissed. Eyesight starting to blur.
The Wandsworth manager: Aresnal were on, the beer was a flowing and it was starting to get a little bit messy. Very windy outside.
The third and final pub of the day named after Welsh royalty, the Prince of Wales Feathers is an expansive place. It was still early in the evening and the party largely had the floor to themselves. Finding themselves ahead of schedule, everyone had a second drink.
It was there that the Young Boys manager paid for an ill-advised wager on Australia to beat England at rugby that afternoon. As an Englishman, there are few better sights than a Welshman having to down a glass of pink gin because your country won a match they shouldn’t have due to a controversial refereeing decision that infuriates Australians.
Sutcliffe: Posh and polished but I don’t remember any character. I do remember Dazza having to sit this one out and walk up and down the street outside to try and avoid throwing up. I was talking to him with the aid of a doorway’s support when I was subtly informed by the owner of the flat above to stop ringing his doorbell with my shoulder. Someone wussed out (Martin?) and bought themselves a cup of tea instead of beer. £3.75 for a cup of tea, £4 for a pint of Peroni.
Dazza: Can’t remember much about this one. Really drunk. Had to take a breather outside.
The Wandsworth manager: My usual piss stop on the way home, so good to have a pint in it for a change (the pub not the…). I believe that Barry White made an appearance here. It would have been a good idea to get some food in at this point.
On the other side of Euston Road, the Crown and Anchor offers a pleasant bar area. Apparently the place does good food, but if in Drummond Street it’s better to try one of its amazing traditional Indian restaurants.
A key lesson learned from the number 38 bus route pub crawl was that minimal time between pubs leads to shaky decision making later in the evening. By walking between each boozer, crawlers are given adequate opportunity to take some air and regulate their intake. The tactic was paying dividends at this point in the night. Except that no one remembers what happened in the Lyttelton.
Dazza: Sobered up a bit here. Didn’t take much notice of the pub. Crap report. Hit the lemonades!
The Wandsworth manager: Erm…not sure if I made this one, no memories….hhmmmmm.
The crawl had finished way ahead of schedule and presented the central committee with dilemma. Follow the Edgware line to the superb Enterprise in Chalk Farm or the High Barnet line to The Abbey in Kentish Town where Sutcliffe’s mates were having a party? The bearded wonder successfully pushed for the latter and the crowd traipsed up Kentish Town Road for shooters and dancing.
Sutcliffe: Bonus extra pub to join my friend’s birthday party. After the initial setback of Lady Norman farting (which cleared the room) and then blaming it on me, I warmed to this place. I vaguely remember someone losing a jacket and some very over the top Halloween costumes but I was quite far gone now. The chicken kebab in New Cross Gate made the long slog home worth it.
Dazza: Was this the bonus pub? Lady Norman lost her coat and Tim farted, which caused the back room to clear and many disgruntled people.
The Wandsworth manager: Vague recollections of dancing with the Pirate and attempting to chat to anything with boobs, skirt and a pulse.
Having organised three London transport-themed pub crawls in 12 months, the central committee patted themselves on the back at how simple and entertaining the Charing Cross branch event had been. Everyone was in good spirits, the crawl had finished way head of time and even the weather held out.
But there was something missing, and it wasn’t until the hangover had finally subsided a couple of days later that it became apparent. Blunder, or the lack of it, hadn’t visited itself on anyone. Nothing went wrong. No one truly disgraced themselves. No peculiar locals sharpened their pitchforks. The whole crawl was as functional and unobtrusive as most of the taverns visited. Even Sutcliffe lost interest in taking photos by the end.
Plans are afoot for a crawl of the Croydon tramlink in spring. The central committee can only hope the locale throws a few curved balls. Perhaps dropping into the New Addington pub where an infamous regular once turned up with a machete would be a start.
The Trafalgar sits like a fortress on the banks of the river. Fortunately, it was penetrable and offered wooden floors, views of the river and what an estate agent would call a ‘well-appointed’ interior.
Lots of photos of an historic British naval theme inside. Admiral Nelson features heavily. A French provincial would enjoy this place as much as Nick Griffin would enjoy taking Napolean in his mouth.
The epicentre of Greenwich? The throng of people in here probably more due to its location between the market and the rebuilt Cutty Sark rather than its strengths as a pub.
Walk through the front bar and it opens out into semi-conservatory style area.
It’s a pity to think this kind of boozer is the image of a traditional London pub many tourists take home.
Crawlers’ pub comments
Fat Peter Sutcliffe said: “Pretentious (i.e. small) macaroni cheese.”
Vicki the bus spotter said: “Binksy had to go on to the bloody Mary the cure the hangover.”
The boat queue, Greenwich
Thames Clippers run regularly, but as the mantra goes ‘no one every plans to fail, they only fail to plan’. It turned out rather than bowling on board, London Oyster cards had to be used to buy tickets from a booth.
To cut a long story short, a 20-minute wait in the drizzle was overcome with the boat drinks.
The boat, River Thames
The boat trip from Greenwich to Greenland Pier takes around 10 minutes. Ample time to have a drink and hack off all the other passengers…
If a sign outside a pub says ‘No work wear’ then it’s safe to assume there are building sites nearby. So what conclusions can be drawn of the surrounding community’s socio-economic make up if the sign says ‘Tops must be kept on inside the bar’?
The growing inclemency of the weather meant all tops were on, but did little to dampen the spirits in this welcoming boozer on board a boat moored in Surrey Quays.
The ceiling around the bar was covered in foreign currency, Binksy’s cue to show off his exotic trillion dollar bill. The barmaid smiled for the camera and afterwards asked him to pay in sterling.
Crawlers’ pub comments
Fat Peter Sutcliffe said: “Nice Cockney boozer. Probably best to avoid on Millwall match days.
Vicki the bus spotter said: “Nice maps on the ceiling! Rough as hell but very amusing. We all kept our tops on.”
When a pub plays Heart radio from a late 90s television, one can expect all the other trappings of a proper London locals’ boozer, such as a man in a flat cap playing the fruit machine and the dip in conversation when a bunch of half-cut strangers enter.
Plenty of regulars were in early doors and a convivial atmosphere quickly resumed.
The Spartak Mogadishu manager finally arrived with an excuse that will go down in the annals of history: “I forgot where south London was.” Quite how his fellow countrymen command such terror on the high seas is anyone’s guess.
Crawlers’ pub comments
Fat Peter Sutcliffe said: “Fags behind the bar for £8.50. Don’t look anyone in the eye.”
Vicki the bus spotter said: “Dodgy pub – nice maroon carpet. A bit like the Duke of Sussex in Waterloo. The Spartak Mogadishu manager finally managed to grace us with his presence.”
When it turned out the Angel had a fireplace and wand-like poker, one crawler’s scarf was pressed into action for Harry Potter impressions. Don’t judge, if it wasn’t for the photos no one would have remembered it.
Lord alone knows what the assembled locals thought, but when the Spartak Mogadishu manager spilled his drink everywhere the landlord made him clean it up, much to general amusement.
Crawlers’ pub comments
Fat Peter Sutcliffe said: “Sam Smith’s and landlord makes the Spartak Mogadishu manager clean up his own spillages.”
Vicki the bus spotter said: “Do like a Sammy Smith’s pub!
On the Sunday morning recce a few weeks beforehand the Old Justice had looked shut for years, but as crawlers stumbled along the river towards Tower Bridge it was open and it seemed churlish not to pop in for one.
Without a doubt the strangest pub all day. The staff consisted of a landlord and hoardes of Asian women, who served our drinks and then gave us plates and plates of battered seafood and a free shot of rice wine.
No one was entirely sure what was happening, but everyone was glad to move on.
Crawlers’ pub comments
Fat Peter Sutcliffe said: “Oriental money laundering front with hookers out back on request (POA). Free room temperature scampi, onion rings and salmonella washed down by nasty rice wine.”
Vicki the bus spotter said: “Cold battered fish and odd sake!”
Forever dedicated to exploring new pubs the crawlers went on to enjoy more cheer at Village East on Bermondsey Street.
Recollection is sparse. Afterwards it was marveled at how we got into this marginally upmarket bar.
Life tasted good. We were pioneers of the first ever recorded pub crawl from Greenwich to Tower Bridge, and it included a maritime adventure. We were proud descendants of our country’s finest naval heroes. We were Sir Francis Drake singeing the King of Spain’s beard at Cadiz. We were Admiral Nelson smashing through the French at Trafalgar. We were… desperately trying not to fall asleep on the night bus home.
CHANCES of a debut manager winning the Kenna league and cup double for the second season in a row came to an end today.
Sporting Lesbian, who have dominated this season’s league campaign since before anyone can remember, were found to have been dumped out of the Canesten Combi Cup quarter finals after a goal recount.
The Lesbians were initially thought to have progressed to the semi finals last week at the expense of Just Put Carles. It emerged that goals from JPC’s Mikel Arteta and Jordan Henderson were overlooked.
Known across the Kenna as ‘the tactical Brambler‘ for his underhand gamesmanship, the FCT manager is also looking to defend his league crown, but faces an uphill struggle as he attempts to claw back a 72-point lead from Sporting Lesbian in just six weeks.
ONE QUESTION was only the start of it. How could we ride the new model number 38 bus?
It was accepted that the ‘hop-on, hop-off’ routemaster-style bus only runs around once an hour on one bus route – the number 38.
Despite its meandering path through the boroughs of Hackney, Islington, Camden and Westminster – taking in some of the most iconic sights in London – there was one problem: none of us ever used it.
All of a sudden the answer was clear: a number 38 bus route pub crawl.
The curious mix of order and chaos that happened on Saturday 20 October 2012 is chronicled below. Where applicable comments about the route, the pubs and learning points have been noted. It is hoped these will instruct, inform and entertain both the crawl aficionado and the casual drinker.
We immediately determined to make the excursion as achievable, fun and damaging to the liver as possible. We had three considerations:
Number of pubs – Circle Line or Monopoly board pub crawls have two flaws, there are too many stops to take in surroundings, and everyone drink halves. We decided on visiting 10 pubs, so we could comfortably spend 38 minutes in each one.
Direction of travel – this was simple, start in north east London and travel south west to Victoria. No one wants to be without their wits in Clapton Pond on a Saturday night, an area on a stretch of road commonly referred to as ‘The Murder Mile’.
Pub locations – establishments should be chosen at even intervals along the route, and as much as possible on the same side of the road as convenient bus stops. This second point would prove invaluable in the later stages.
A Sunday morning bicycle ride two weeks beforehand identified a number of suitable boozers, rubber stamped by a kangaroo committee. The route would not be followed to its absolute end because, as any Londoner will tell you, there are no decent rub-a-dub-dubs in Victoria.
Here’s the list:
The Clapton Hart, Clapton Pond
The Cock Tavern, Hackney Central
The Duke of Wellington, Ball’s Pond Road
The George Orwell, Essex Road
The Old Queen’s Head, Islington
The Old Red Lion Theatre, Angel
The Exmouth Arms, Exmouth Market
The Old Crown, New Oxford Street
The Marquis of Granby, Cambridge Circus
Ye Grapes, Mayfair
Each pub name links to it’s location on Google maps. The nearest bus stop is also included.
At 1pm a handful of intrepid souls, including Vicki the Bus Spotter, fat Peter Sutcliffe and the athletic frame of the Vasco De Beauvoir manager, met near the Lea Bridge Roundabout. The weather was overcast, but not inclement.
The Clapton Hart has an airy, pleasant feel with respectable staff, and for a moment the social depravity of the surrounding neighbourhood was forgotten, until a regular ambled in with a dog on a string.
Lunch was adequate, but had that fairtrade, made-of-recycled-principles taste about it and the cauliflower was purple. In hindsight, three pints was excessive.
A couple of new 38s idled in the middle of the Lea Bridge Roundabout, but the clock was ticking. There’d be plenty of time for that.
A few minutes ride on a boring old Wirght Gemini 2 and we discovered that Jesus was wrong: the meek did not inherit the earth. The meek grew up and moved to east London to work in digital marketing and stay up since last Thursday banging meow meow. A trio of such specimens scratching around the Cock early doors hinted at the clientele, but by thunder did the place stock ale.
After a quick beer we emerged to see… Not already? No, it couldn’t be? It was the new 38!
In a moment not unlike an episode of long-running ITV police drama series The Bill, we crashed along the pavement towards the bus stop, except instead of chasing drug dealers through a notorious Sun Hill housing estate, we were trying to take pictures of an arriving bus. And what a bus it was.
Decadent maroon soft furnishing tastefully intertwined with the luxuriant caramel glow of the hand rails. The step entrance was pristine, yellow trim shining, with not a drop of chewing gum, blood or urine tarnishing its surface. The ‘new car smell’ was yet to be overpowered by half-eaten boxes of fried chicken and old people.
For a few intense, heady minutes at the front of the top deck we sailed along Graham Road and over Dalston Junction. Then it was time for another drink.
Charming island bar and abundance of natural light aside, the Duke always feels brittle, as though ordering a round of Jägerbombs for the whole pub would reduce it into a delicatessen. One notable feature is the former doorway turned into a cosy corner which still boasts the original floor mosaic bearing the pub’s name.
At this point latecomers – including Anders Breivik doppleganger the Judean Peoples’ Front manager – swelled our numbers and the throng dutifully moved onto pub number four. Vicki the Bus Spotter was beside herself: at the next bus stop we took another new 38.
Orwell famously treatised of the perfect London pub where the punters were friendly, barmaids affable and beer well served. When visiting his namesake establishment in Canonbury the dream the author weaves, like Boxer the horse in Animal Farm, takes an ugly one in the knackers. Not quite Room 101, but a bit more Down and out than Moon Under Water.
More joined the ranks, with even a one-year-old child putting in a shift.
Whether the Old Queen’s Head is an accurate representation of what’s going on inside the monarch’s noggin is uncertain, but if years of wet paint fumes have finally got to the old girl then why not retro furniture, a slim fit crowd and a baby seeing off a pint of bitter?
Middle-aged men in turtle neck sweaters using the shallow cover of literary drama to crack onto impressionable, young girls awkwardly asserting their creative independence having thrown off the shackles of a sheltered, suburban upbringing – is what you expect to find in a theatre pub. We found Norwich City Football Club fans. Loads of them.
A Canary army had descended on the Old Red Lion to watch their team play Arsenal in the dim red glow of the pub’s quasi ghost train decor. Some crawlers had something to eat. It could have been chips.
At the introduction of the 50p game in the Exmouth Arms events spiralled out of control. For the uninitiated, if a 50p piece is dropped into your glass while you’re holding it, you must immediately drink its contents. The coin is then yours with which to cause mischief.
Composure regained, we found the Marquis of Granby was shut – a common symptom of central London pubs on weekends. Panic spread through the camp, but it turned out there were lots of other pubs nearby and everyone realised they weren’t really that fussed anyway.
We went to the Cambridge. A horrendous place that only exists to convince thousands of tourists every year who know no better that they’ve been to a traditional English public house. The former Young Boys of Kilburn manager ordered a large glass of red wine thinking it would be exempt from the 50p game.
Ye Grapes is also the last pub on the official Monopoly pub crawl, which meant they were used to people wandering in on the sharp end of 14 pints. This was fortunate, as through a consequence of bizarre, delayed trauma to having their childhood television memories recently besmirched in the media, some crawlers were singing the theme song to Jim’ll Fix It.
A fair amount of leering at the barmaid took place, people bought poppies and the Lokomotiv Leeds manager took it upon himself to neck pints with astonishing speed.
The Piccadilly line reopened after the London Bombings 26 days previous had rocked the capital like never before (or at least until the pubs opened).
Despite bowling the Australians out by tea on the first day at Lord’s, the England cricket team had gone 1-0 down in the series. On the eve of the second test at Edgbaston the question on everyone’s lips was whether they could win the Ashes back after 17 years.
Edgar Davids joined Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer from Inter Milan.
In the midst of these extraordinary circumstances, a group of eight distinguished gentlemen congregated at a pub near the site of the original Temple Bar, on the westernmost border of the City of London. Onlookers would have regarded these souls as unremarkable, but over the next four hours they went on to found what will be known in years to come as one of the capital’s most enduring institutions.
Under the auspices of the ‘Fleet Street Fantasy Football League’, this group of pioneers shed the tyranny of mass media fantasy competitions, of whose corporate wiles they’d all grown weary and disaffected, and created a pure format of the game, auctioning off top-level footballers over pints of Belgian Lager and branded ashtrays.
Little did they know, that 39 competitive weeks, two league name changes and one transfer window later, the Barry Norgrove Football League has all but come to the end of its first season; an emotional rollercoster of blood, sweat and avant-garde banter that will be remembered more fondly by history than the day Stanley rumbled Dr Livingstone interfering with the natives.
Four of those early tacticians are still managing teams in the Kenna this season. Over the years others have come and gone, left and stayed, but the central tenets of those events eight years ago still remain at the heart of the league: one of the managers can win and they don’t have to spend every Friday lunchtime making transfers and picking a bloody captain.
In the first of series of rose-tinted reviews, the Kenna will look back at it’s roots and those previous seasons. Most expensive summer signings, manager of the month charts, top points scorers and, of course, the final table will be featured.
Most expensive summer signings
Park Ji Sung’s Allstars
Vasco De Beauvoir
R van Nistelrooy
As experimental as the first prototype of a homemade chastity belt, the initial auction rules were not the honed article of today. The customary £100m budget was established, but managers were able to pick two players from each Premier League outfit.
With only eight managers and a wealth of talent, even the most sought after players didn’t reach £30m. At 18, Wayne Rooney was already a prized asset. Stevie Gerrard and Frank Lampard would also go on to dominate shopping lists.
A certain Czech West Ham defender quickly become synonymous with being the type of player no one wanted to buy, but back in those chivalrous days the Titus Bramble ruling wasn’t even a twinkle in Tomas Repka’s eye.
Thanks to a stingy back five of Paul Robinson, Steve Finnan, Kolo Toure, John Terry and Wes Brown, Vasco De Beauvoir dominated the league from September and were hard to catch from there, picking up five MOTM awards and becoming champions.
Stevie G and The Yak spurred on a spring assault for Barking Hoxton, who made second place their own for a large part of the season and finished there.
The Dynamo Stockwell manager did not enjoy the best of debuts. With a midfield built around Stelios Giannakopoulos, Dynamo’s pre-season prediction of a mid-table finish was woefully over ambitious. They came last.
How the league administration summed up the season:
“So there you have it. Vasco are champions of the inaugural Barry Norgrove Football League. They’ve led since Week 3, and apart from a period when Mr Robben was at his most theatrical, haven’t looked like slipping. “I think I’ll have a tumbler of pink gin tonight to celebrate,” exclaimed the ever-inebriated Vasco manager. “The boys have done good, and now I can spend the next couple of months immersed in blackjack and hookers.
“Barking Hoxton put up a spirited final stand, with the redoubtable Stevie G saving the final yet again. The much-jostled for third spot finally falls to those winged kleptomaniacs, so it’s Europe for them and Dio-calm for the Allstars. Despite a late spurt from the Fat Ladies (what an image) they remain in fifth spot. Stockwell Stockwell (Henry top scored the entire league) and Bashers (who posted the lowest weekly score of the season of -6) will recharge to fight again next season.
“And finally Dynamo Stockwell. What can one say? Hapless? They aimed for mid-table and failed to fulfill their mediocre ambitions. Only time will tell if they’ve historically posted the worst score ever in the Norgrove, but with more transfer windows promised for next season one would conjecture that only the Black Cats could do worse. One would also think that the manager has taken a long hard look in the mirror, contemplating leaving the gas on for a split second, and is now preparing himself for the muckiest of pints at the awards evening.”
The Dyanmo manager never did drink that mucky pint.