Pub 8

4
Jul 05

PUB 8 – Overview

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Feelings were mixed in this camp about Live 8. Cynicism rules, and irritation with Bob Geldof was running high. On the other hand it was a big cultural event and we should watch it, even if it was sniping from afar. And luckily, Alan came to the rescue: the weekend before he was bemoaning that all the time he lived in Ladbroke Grove he had meant to do a Ladbroke Grove pub crawl, and was sad he had failed. I pointed out he had one weekend left, and a bit of maths conspired to bring together some of the publog great and good for our answer to Live 8.

Pub 8.

So named because there were 8 pubs. Actually we noticed this near the end, when we were drunk and made sure there were eight pubs for this purpose. We did it to raise awareness, mainly alcohol awareness admittedly. However it was interesting to see how the various pubs were dealing with Dave Gandalf’s big spectacle, and how the very different punters reacted. From gentrified bouzers to rough-as-arseholes locals, they were all watching this historic day (well, with one notable exception). As we got drunker our own reactions changed too. So over the next few days I’ll be running through some of these pubs and how we felt that we were in our own way being as revolutionary as all the artists at Live 8 (ie, potentially not at all).

PUB 8. 1. The Castle

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If you recall, Pub 8 initially started as a Ladbroke Grove pub crawl. The Castle, just by Holland Park tube, is not on Ladbroke Grove. Well rules are meant to be broken. And break our other (not yet formulated at this point) rule The Castle did. It was the only one of the Pub 8 which did not have a Tv for viewing Live 8 on. So while we missed probably Coldplay, we also wrestled with the pub not having any real ales on. A frankly obscene number of international lagers replaced the handpumps, and I managed to have a pint of Staropramen Granat (the amber version). This was probably an error from a drunkenness perspective, but hey I survived.

Spirits were relatively low in the first pub, possibly because we felt we should in some way be watching Live 8. Instead the pub offered us a copy of the Daily Star instead, which is no replacement.

PUB 8 RATING: 3/10. No tv, no ale. Posh fish finger sandwiches are no replacement.

PUB 8: 2. The Prince Of Wales

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Still apparently walking away from Ladbroke Grove, we were urged to swing around The Prince Of Wales. And that was much more like it. Oh the pub itself still had delusions, but made up for it by actually having some grandeur as well. Very friendly bar staff, very well presented and good selection of interesting beers. And a little TV at a good volume allowed us to see the first of our experience of Live 8. This turned out to be poor interviews by Jo “Withered Hand” Wiley, and a poorly timed round the world round up, including, live from Moscow: Moral Code!!! (This soon turned into the days number one in-joke, you had to be there, etc etc).

The pub had a nice looking garden which was about to close on us, and the project was almost scuppered by the pubs niceness. Put it like this, if the BBC had not have cruelly cut off Fat-Duran-Duran’s Ordinary World and replaced it with Razorlight, Pub 8 may have become Pub 2.

PUB 8 RATING: 9/10. (Good beer, comfy and they did not bat an eyelid when we finished off Ordinary World over Razorshite-more-like.)

5
Jul 05

PUB 8: 3: The Elgin

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There was a tense moment when we left the comforting womb of the Prince Of Wales. Mainly that the pub crawl commander seemed to have “misplaced” a pub. Still in the long run this was a good thing as that would have made this PUB 9 – which would not work.

So we finally hit Ladbroke Grove, via seeing some West London youths dressed in red bin bags for no good reason. The Elgin is a pub we had all been to before, and truth be told is the most popular pub on the Grove. It is big, has an okay selection for beers, a big screen, pool, food and is really rather comfy. Would they have Live 8 on the TV? Yes, yes, and perhaps yes to a degree we had not expected.

Out back, the big screen was down and Live 8 was on at earsplitting volume. Under the circumstances not a bad time for Madonna to come on. And go on she did. We got a little bit bored of not being able to talk to each other when Madge told us for the eighty-fifth time that “Music, makes the people, come together”. Still the volume increase was in parallel with her performance which was very enjoyable.

We then had to explain to Emma who Snow Patrol were, and it was very clear that her life was not enriched by the knowledge. We took ver Patrol’s advice when the played Run and legged it. But you could hear the Elgin halfway up the road.

PUB 8 RATING: 7 (Really nice pub, marked down for being just a little bit too loud)

PUB 8: 4: The Earl Percy

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There was actually another pub in between the Elgin and the Earl Percy but the consensus, shared it seems by Fancyapint’s lack of listing, is it was a bit rough. This may seem laughable seeing what is coming up, but we also felt an extra bit of walking might distance us from Snow Patrol.

No such luck. We made it to the Earl Percy and Run was still on. A veritable Telegraph Road for a new generation, we moaned, and got a look. Indeed all the time we were in the generally okay Earl Percy we were subjected to “looks” from the old bloke on his own on the table next to us. Live 8 was on a small TV, pretty quiet and this old giffer was having none of it. He was also having none of our dissection of Live 8 either. Indeed if one was to sum up his character, having none of it would be enough.

The Percy itself is a slightly shabby bouzer in a few segments, notable for its very small door between two bars. The Killers got to do their one song, and then we had a little discussion about the relative merits of the Scissor Sisters. The giffer however was having none of it, so we left.

PUB 8 RATING: 4 (served us beer, had a TV on, but we were having none of it).

PUB 8: 5.The Eagle

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Over the road, past the fire station and halfway through the crawl, The Eagle was a welcome change. Livelier than The Earl Percy and with a louder television. Just in time for the Scissor Sisters to do a new song – surely a bad idea. Luckily, the Eagle was the home of bad ideas, especially when someone thought it would be a good idea to put Velvet Revolver on.

So far we had not really interacted with general public. We had not raised awareness. Luckily The Eagle broke this duck by providing us with a genuine Pub Nutter. A large drunk chap, tattoed within an inch of his life who started to say how great Velvet Revolver were, and then managed to turn this into a twenty minute diatribe on The Stone Roses.

Admittedly I did not help by talking back. But he was a friendly cove who constantly tried to buy me a drink and did not want to beat me up for drinking a glass of white wine (I don’t really know why I got a glass of white wine in here).

Oh and how do you get to the Stone Roses from Velvet Revolver? Simple. Slash was in Guns’n’ROSES. And VR’s singer was in the STONE Temple Pilots. Frankly, this is far too logical for a pub nutter.

PUB 8 Rating: 7 (Almost all for the entertaining pub nutter who was nowhere near as fearsome as his tats suggested.)

PUB 8: 6: The Cowshed

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We escaped the friendly man, and hushed tones were reserved for the grand sight of THE COWSHED. Rising in the distance it really is a very impressive pub from the outside. Not so much due to any great architecture, just the way it juts majestically out of the side of the rise on Ladbroke Grove, before you get to Sainsbury’s.

We had also heard that it was
a) the pub from Time Gentlemen Please (a sitcom I had never seen)
b) the pub frequented by Avalon staffers (people I do not know)
c) rough.

Well it was not rough, but it was not exactly salubrious. Eyebrows were raised at the provenance of the weak sweet wine, and the beer selection was more than basic. Still, we were pissed by now so who cares? Feelings of drunkenness were increased by television action. There was a largish screen which seemed out of sync with the other television. It transpired that we had the ability to watch the digital/terrestrial delay in action. A little bit arsed up when someone asks to turn it up, leaving a lopsided sonic catastrophe. Still, it was Sting & Mariah Carey…

PUB 8 RATING: 4 (Poor bouze, head fuck sonics and not even as rough as we had hoped)

PUB 8: 7: The Western Arms

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There is something gothic in the way this pub towers over the low-level business units surrounding it, the pub’s name, high up, broadcasts across the Sainsbury’s car park to the Paddington Rail Crash memorial stone. The first thing I googled about this bouzer was the phrase “Gruddy boozer with sticky carpets, undead locals and a telly blaring away. Sinister”. It was a must for Pub 8.

It lived up to this googled rep quite well, though i don’t recall carpet underfoot. It’s the sort of pub that has a memory of once having had a sawdust and straw floor. There was only a sprinkling of regulars, it felt decidedly empty, and there was (for me) a distinct lack of atmosphere. I don’t remember staying here very long. Look, it was a long pub crawl. God knows who was on stage in Hyde Park at this point – maybe the Spice Girls had reformed.

Much as I’d looked forward to trying the place out, and nice though it might be to try again, it did not match the day’s mood well. This meant that the upside to my earlier ineptness at losing a pub (one i couldn’t remember ever passing to be honest) meant that the finale in Pub 8 had to be had across the Harrow Road…

PUB 8 RATING: 6 (a quiet spot for ale drinking. YMMV – your memory may vary)

6
Jul 05

PUB 8: 8: THE PARADISE

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By this point your intrepid reporter was flagging. The Paradise was the busiest pub we’d been in since the Elgin, several hours before, and clearly there were people who had been there all day, solely to watch the event (it was the only place we didn’t get a seat). The television was a decent size and the volume was loud, but not Elgin loud. There also appeared to be some sort of post-gay pride party going on upstairs and the music (heard whilst visiting the toilet) was an awful lot better than the dreck served up to us downstairs. WHO stumbling through the CSI greatest hits followed by <gritted teeth>pink floyd</gritted teeth> (sorry Marcello, loved the piece but I won’t be converted I fear). The pub seemed friendly enough, I had a bit of a natter with a random bloke, but it wasn’t my round and by this stage of the evening I was on the lemonade, so I can’t even comment on the beer.

Unfortunately I felt the need to leave as Wish You Were Here started in case I upset any of the other punters in the pub (also, we were in West London and I wanted to be the right side of Kings Cross before Hyde Park kicked out). My abiding memory of the pub though was some bloke (I don’t want to be stereotypical here, but the word “trustifarian” springs to mind) shouting at everyone to shush because they were showing a repeat of the Nelson Mandela speech from earlier in the day…

PUB 8 RATING: 7 (i’m sure it’s perfectly tolerable most of the time, it’s hardly their fault about pink floyd)