Posts from 26th September 2000

Sep 00

THE SHAKESPEARE: Victoria Street, W1

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 394 views

THE SHAKESPEARE: Victoria Street, W1

Big mainline stations tend to operate under some secret local government bylaw which states that all pubs within 5 minutes walk of them must be awful. Even when a station-proximate pub approaches a state of relative grace, like (arguably) the Head Of Steam at Euston, the management go and do something ludicrous like securing the downstairs toilets with a combination lock. Can The Shakespeare, which squats outside the main exit to Victoria, buck this trend?

Judging by two recent visits, not entirely, but it makes a decent stab at it. It’s amply furnished, averagely priced, busy without being as cattle-truck packed as the nearby (and irredemable) Victoria; it has a jukebox and some nondescript machines, and has a standard Becks-Kronenborg lager line-up. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but like the dog that barked, the mere fact that it’s the first pub you see outside one of London’s biggest stations and yet is still reasonable is worth a quiet toast.

It’s a good pub to end up in just before closing time, too, as it’s station location means it empties out earlier than most – you can grab seats even on a Friday or Saturday past ten o’clock. On Saturday night, fresh from Blavod-induced raucousness on a train, we foolishly ordered a cider armadillo, a drink which Tim Hopkins had sworn was drunk regularly by Exeter FC fans, though doubts are beginning to surface. You get a pint of cider, you get a glass of sherry. You drink some cider, you add the sherry to the rest. Mmmmmmmmm.

The Shakespeare’s other notable feature is its grotto downstairs, four or five cave-like (and somewhat cramped) berths and a downstairs bar. The novelty wears off in a round or two, but it’s still got more character than most downstairs drinkers (particularly those overseen by shortarse Australian slaphead killjoys), and also has magical powers as any cave should, i.e. once you’re in you can’t get out until the clock strikes eleven and you’ve been well and truly turned into a pumpkin.

Transatlantic web-newsreader and all round voice of dystopian future

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Transatlantic web-newsreader and all round voice of dystopian future Ananova has come up trumps with not one but two female solo artiste based newslets. First it the somewhat embaressing suggestion that FilmFour are offering people their money back if they don’t like the appalingly reviewed Dancer In The Dark. I’ve not seen DITD, but on this kind of offer I probably will. I actually find the idea of a melodramatic musical starring Bjork rather enticing. Still, I am the man who owns the majority of the records that Tom listed under inevitable, bad and ugly below.

Second story is much more sinister. Celine Dion is so popular in China that the Canadian government was approached to persuade her to play there. Unfortunately it would appear that the Canadian governments definition of persuasion is somewhat different to the People’s Republic. Or I suppose not unfortunately – if you were one of the potential people who would have caught her filling out the Shanghai Velodrome.

This story could be a smokescreen though. Perhaps the foreign press intecepted a diplomatic document referring to Celine Dion. Above is the cover story, but actually the words ‘Celine Dion’ are coded messages. This may seem far fetched but its not the first time this idea has been mooted on this site…

Sizzling Platters

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Sizzling Platters. I don’t really approve of pub food. I am very much a purist when it comes to the pub experience. Its pretty much drinking I’m after and any food tends to get int he way, and clutter the table at the same time. Nevertheless the are times when food is necessary – the day after a particularily lengthy stag night f’rinstance.

Now the pub we ended up in was no gastropub to say the least. We had been lured there by offers of Crazy Steaks (surely a dodgy promotional slogan at the best of times, but post BSE…). Instead though The Maynard Arms (Park Road, Crouch End) had changed its cheap, tacky – in both senses of the word) menu to Sizzling Platters. The food on offer was generic steak and chips, burger type fayre and truth be told ridiculously cheap. But the cheapness of the sales was not the selling point. No the Cast Iron Skillet which said food comes in sizzling on is the selling point. All well and good and rather attractive – but there is a downside.

For the food to be continually sizzling, the skillets are actually hot enough to cook the meat. Therefore if you order a steak you not only have to avoid burning yourself on the plate, but you need to wolf it down at quite some pace. Else your rare rib-eye steak becomes well done, dry and not what you ordered. What the skillets do to you chips, or worse still accidentally spilling vinegar on them is like torture. Vinegar vapour, rushing up your nose – nice.

Still, can’t say I cared that much. Hair of the dog, after spending the night lying on an ironing board trying to avoid man stench.

Do you really want to hear a cutesy indie band cover “The Thong Song”?

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Do you really want to hear a cutesy indie band cover “The Thong Song”? No, I thought not. But if your curiosity gets the better of you then you can find such an item here (in the “frightfully new” section).

SPEARMINT – Sweeping The Nation

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SPEARMINT – Sweeping The Nation

A single that many indie boys hold dear, because it fulfils all their dreams. You see most indie boys secret harbour a desire to be in a band. The fact that they are not in any way musically gifted is not the reason most of these bands never surface. It would be a positive advantage to be tonally inept if it was a own label, lousy live and on record standard indie band. Instead it is that lack of gumption that most indie kids have, a geneticically induced lethargy which prevents them from rehersing, performing and then getting beaten up after the gig.

Sweeping The Nation is all about no mark indie bands. And we’re not talking the Senseless Things or Midway Still here. These are bands so tiny, so poor and so lousy that they never even make it into the NME or Melody Maker. To draw an Olympics parallel here – for sake of being topical – for a band to get in the NME is like have the qualifying level at the High Jump being half an inch. Yet our fey voiced singer informs us that this song is for a litany of rubbish named bands in his “Searching For The Young Soul Rebel” style talkie bit. Shirley – the perfect name for such a limp vocalist – then follows this up with some ridiculous cod motivational speech about as longs as you keep you mind to something, you can do anything. he obviously did not keep his mind on writing a decent song then.

The rest of the song is that thing that said indie boys like to call perfect pop. Therefore it rips off Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production and replaces it with a Wall Of Shit. If such records truely were perfect pop (Cud anyone?) then they would be perfectly popular and soaring to the top of the charts. Instead Spearmint sold about twenty copies of the single, and are now probably Sweeping The Nation, then giving the nations toilets a good disinfecting before getting out of their cleaners overalls and going home to play with their guitar and think of another rubbish band that they could be in.

Happy Birthday To Us

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Happy Birthday To Us: sort of. NYLPM is six months old, which seems to be rather a long time in the ever-changing world of online pop sites. It certainly feels like months longer. Thanks to the contributors and just as importantly to the readers, and thanks to all the indie rock sites who link to us despite our continual pokings at that noble artform. I’ve come into contact with some very interesting and entertaining people via NYLPM, and I hope I’ve interested and entertained a bit in turn. There’s a discussion set up in the forum for improvement suggestions and ideas for new features, and that’s frankly enough gushing. Back to the links: here’s’s vapid Pop Star Birthdays.