Posts from 10th March 2004

Mar 04


Do You SeePost a comment • 282 views


if you had any gumption you switched over to bbc2

So last night in Hustle the gang organised a complex art scam

Do You SeePost a comment • 284 views

So last night in Hustle the gang organised a complex art scam which involved them getting a master forger to invent a new Mondrian which they could pass off as the real thing briefly to a sharp tongued art expert. To do this they had to steal an actual Mondrian so the forger could “get the vibe”, make a company go bankrupt and impersonate all number of people. Profit? ’100,000.

The big con, the type generally beloved of films, is beautiful to watch because it is the ultimate in watertight plotting. The big con however is full of risks, not least that your identity will become uncovered. Which is why if you are in the business of confidence, such as the absurdly pretty and one dimensional gang in Hustle, you do not do them week in, week out. And you do them for a damn sight more profit than ’20,000 each.

‘We’re not thieves,’ Adrian Lester says pointedly to the young and therefore arrogant protogee. Well I would imagine any police office catching you walking out of the gallery with a Mondrian stuck to your T-Shirt would disagree. No instead this thoroughly implausible gang also seem to live by some bizarre moral code which means they cannot watch to see said business go bankrupt and give away half their earnings. They do not hurt people, they do not steal (maybe borrow) and talk in riddles most the time. It is so ridiculous that it should really play this aspect up more, because after three weeks no-one is going to fall for their “how-to” course in grifting. Series longeivity depends on development, success in the game depends on nothing happening an awful lot of the time. The tensions are built in, hopefully the series will exploit them. I fear on this evidence though, the only people being conned are the audience.

All Bar One Rox ur all etc

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 169 views

All Bar One Rox ur all etc

I was about to post this when Tom’s original Firkin comment appeared and then cz I’d got so bolshy defending Pret against the ruralpolitans sane universe I hung fire, at least to read properly where the argument went.

Anyway last Tuesday I had a busy businesslike day in town, half a dozen important meetings all lined up in a row requiring precision and discipline to blah blah – unfortunately the human element intervened (ie it wasn’t MY fault) and I ended up with hours to kill before meeting up with Dr Vick and no way to get in touch with her (I didn’t know how many – it turned out to be !!four!! as she was delayed also). So coffee shop or bar or pub or what? I did have am industrial-strength baggaboox, but they were all like actual hardcore research-style tomes. I hate newspapers, and anyway they don’t last that long. Whatever I chose I was going to have to nurse a drink or at most two for a LONG TIME. My eventual choice was an hour-and-a-half or so in the All Bar One on Cambridge Circus, then wandering around “sightseeing” a part of London I know really quite well thank you, then the rest of time in Amalfi in Old Compton Street. Where we often meet, and I assume they recognise me.

Well the Amalfi bit stretched out, and I really did feel they were beginning to look at me a bit askance (a coffee and a red wine taken VERY SLOWLY: I didn’t really want either). The All Bar One bit was way WAY more comfy for my specific needs: its corporate anonymity totally suited me there and then, and I could spread my books out and work with pen and paper and a pint on their big unwobbly tables, and everyone kept out of my way (it was semi-empty anyway) (haha it wz a bit like drinking in a library really).

Also the sun was particularly gorgeous and wintry going down over the pub on the corner where Romilly Street and Moor Street meet (it was the second venue for the second Trig Brother but I can never remember its name). So ABO’s big clear windows worked for it as well, and I spent a good deal of the time just looking out at the world going by – even though I guess the OTHER pub was the hero here, for its bizarre crenellations!

(OK they’re not crenellations but they are pretty and it is the SPICE OF LIFE hurrah)

(I think the top of the actual building I was in is where Smiley and Bill Hayden and Control and that all worked in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy viz “The Circus”))

The conversation about pub chains got me thinking about when a chain is not a chain?

Pumpkin Publog3 comments • 367 views

The conversation about pub chains got me thinking about when a chain is not a chain? Or at least do we consider Sam Smiths pubs to be a chain? We talk about them as if they are, and there are definite aspects of their pubs with which one can happily construct a trend (the two rooms, the good old fashioned pub decor). What is most notable though is the uniformity of beer. In the old days of guest beer legislation this would not have been allowed, and neophyte customers can still be spotted trying ot order a Guinness. But in the end what is unchainlike about the pubs is that they appear to be owned by a brewery.

Much of this thought was prompted by the slow rise of another brewery specific chain of pubs, pinging into my pubdar*. The Badger Brewery now owns about four pubs I have started visiting occasionally. Most famously the two part Charing Cross pub The Ship & Shovel, but I also used to visit the Archery Tavern when I was down Marble Arch way (a typically wrongheaded FAP review there). Recently The Old Nick popped up as a rather sympathetic enlargement/refurb. And now, probably the jewel in their crown location-wise is the re-opening of St Stephens Tavern. I’ll talk more on its charms later, much original decor which has perhaps been over cleaned, but suffice to say that this re-opening makrs an aggressive move into Sam Smith’s territory.

As bitters Badger and Tanglefoot look better and taste a wee bit better than the Sam Smith’s offerings. The spirits are real actual spirits, as are the mixers. And for the unadventurous you can get Guinness. But the battle I would like to see is between the house lagers: how does Hoffbrau measure up to Ayingerbrau. The fatman vs the fat pump. If you include the D Pils and Prinz in the equation, not to mention Heffe Weisse, then Sam wins hands down. But in a clever reversal and instigation of sensible drinking for stupid people, the Hoffbrau Export, at 4.3%, is this chains cooking lager. But the brewery chain pub fight starts here.

*Copyright Peter Baran 10/3/04 – I thought of this one first OKAY.