Posts from 6th February 2002

Feb 02

The Ring

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 322 views

The Ring is, I suppose, a theme pub of a sort. Situated on Blackfriars Road near the long-demolished first home of English boxing, the Blackfriars Ring, the place is a one-room shrine to old boxers, and one gets the impression that a good portion of the clientele may derive from some sort of pugilist community (from the top seat of the 63 bus you can see the training gym upstairs, too).

I find myself increasingly inclined to the simple pleasures of ordinary pubs. Put it this way: I’m happier in the Ring, say, than in the (still excellent) unique and remarkable Olde Cheshire Cheese. I’m more comfortable in the simplicity of the Wheatsheaf (thankfully re-opened by Youngs) by Borough Market than in the august and historic George just down the road.

The difficulty with talking about pubs which do the simple, good things simply and well is that they tend to be unremarkable. The Ring is friendly without being over-friendly, much like the sometime-resident pub dog. The service is genuinely excellent, the beer includes Burton Ale (a surprisingly rare treat in London), there’s a nice little telly up in the corner which will show sport without dominating the whole pub.

According to this, the name of the pub is not boxing-derived. Can that be true? Surely this is a wind-up?

It’s right next to Southwark tube Station, which means that mostly I’ve visited the place on my own, since that’s a key, erm, node on my daily commute. I’m anything but handy in a fistfight, but even when things have got a little noisy in there (which happens from time to time) I’ve never felt even worried. Disciplined, these boxers’

I think it’s a London classic.

Amusing to see

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 333 views

Amusing to see (17th January) a confirmed Northern toper of confirmed Northern beer dismiss anything as ‘froth’, given how much one hears from our friends in the North about the merits of having a quarter of your pint taken up by just that. He’s right about the quality of Robinson’s (and Hartley’s), but I’ve had more luck than him with finding it in London. I recall running across it as a guest beer in a few places, most notably the White Horse in Peckham, which was my local for a blessed while. Wandering in to the back bar one evening, I was delighted to see a Robbie’s pump head at the bar. ‘My favourite beer,’ I said to my companion, only to find that it was on a special at ‘1.35 a pint. Hello, as they say, and goodbye.

As for the White Horse, it is an excellent 2-bar local, slightly set back from the Northern end of Peckham Rye. Well worth a visit if you’re in that neck of the woods, it’s one of those pubs which does the simple things well. It’s a place for people to go and have a drink and a chat with their friends and family, maybe to eat a little pub food, maybe to watch a little football, maybe to play a little pool. Marvellous.

Also amusing was receiving a distinctly cross-eyed phone call from the self-same poster just after closing time a few evenings ago, mentioning the fearsome power of the Cider Armadillo! The south will rise again, much like the contents of the stomach of an unwary Armadillo tippler.

RANDY NEWMAN – Short People

I Hate Music12 comments • 2,861 views

RANDY NEWMAN – Short People

Is it just me but is Randy Newman’s baiting of short people not dissimilar to the kind of Nazi propaganda which was spread in the 1930’s against the Jews? Utterly foundless, logically flawed and just hateful. I mean do short people really have special cars made just for them that go “beep, beep, beep“? No, and anyone who remembers the nightmare of the Nuremberg rallies will remember Hitler’s similar tirade about “J’dische Autos, die gehen Honkhonkhonk”. And yet we villify one as the ultimate evil, and celebrate the other as some kind of genius singer songwriter.

Would we have let Hitler write the music to Toy Story (“Sie haben einen faschistischer Diktator in mir”)? It certainly bares thinking about. In the end the kind of person who propgates such hateful discriminatory lies is doing so because they feel inadequate within themselves. Well I certainly won’t argue that Newman is not inadequate on the songwriting front. But will you all speak out when they start dragging the dwarves off to concentration camps?

THINGS THAT ARE IMPOSSIBLE (But Pubs Expect us To Do): 4

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 457 views

THINGS THAT ARE IMPOSSIBLE (But Pubs Expect us To Do): 4

Believe that any food served within has actually been prepared and cooked on the premises. Home cooked is a phrase often bandied about, but what it actually means is it was cooked in someone’s home somewhere along the line. And if you provide a little bed for the security guard in the Soggy Chips’n’Lasagne Factory you can call anything a home. Which leads to the follow-up question, if the food is being blasted in the microwave for two minutes, why does it take half an hour to get to us? Merely to preserve the home-cooking illusion – which as I not – it is thoroughly impossible to believe in.

What is this nonsense!

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 184 views

What is this nonsense! REM and No Doubt to play at a celebration of Bono gig. Let me get this straight. This is not a gig for humanitarian causes, it is a gig to honour a humanitarian, in this case the old puffed up, pompous leather sofa of rock himself. Tanya could not have picked a better time to call attention to his so called good deeds. I don’t mind pop stars being politically active, and possibly it does some good. The the self congratulatory way that this is being done just shows how out of touch the so called bands with some kind of political consciousness are. I’d like to see Gwen Stefani down on bended knee going “Hey Bono, Hey Bono Hey, before you existed I didn’t know about the injustice of people who feel a bit numb.”

Stipe is obviously only doing it so he gets his own concert back. For raising awareness of the poor plight of people who look really ill, but aren’t.

Big events

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 498 views

Big events I learnt last night that the Football Association was formed in 1863 in The Freemason’s Arms on Great Queen Street, near Covent Garden. And there’s a pub, just south of Fleet Street, that claims to be the place where the good-deeding Amnesty organisation was established in 1961.

Whilst I find all this of some interest, it doesn’t increase my enjoyment to drink in a pub with a claim to historical fame. In fact, I find it a bit depressing. There’s too much pressure – what are the chances of you coming up with something to top that? I can’t imagine wandering into a pub in 2020 to be greeted by a gilded sign saying “In This Pub In 2002, John McGhee Took Part In The Greatest Ever Conversation About The Smiths”.