Posts from 5th July 2005

Jul 05

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)

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: 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.)

Sweet Like Bonbon

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Bonbon El Perro (or just El Perro in Argentina) is a story about a man and his dog. It is tempting to say that this sweet, heartwarming tale of Patagonia and the bond formed between a man and his show-dog hides a biting satire on the current Argentinean economic crisis, and the politics which drove this once proud nation to bankruptcy; the dog showing the dangers of neutered aggression whilst his owner, often clueless, struggles on with naught but goodwill as the world around him threatens to collapse.

It would be nice, but it just is not true. Bonbon is a sweet story about a man and his dog. And that’s it.

Down with the kids

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Following a particularly grouchy Stylus singles jukebox I feel I must re-establish my tattered cred by posting an MP3, so here one is:

DJ Marlboro – Super Popozao

I downloaded this four years ago or so and have been raving about it, pushing it on people, putting it on mixtapes etc. ever since. I even wrote an essay about it, lost somewhere in the digital ether, comparing it to Orange Juice for reasons that escape me now. It is baile funk, which these days we all know about. This was the first funk track I ever heard and I think it’s still my favourite: it catches the lashed-together junkyard energy of the style so well.

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).

Graph Not To Scale

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We all know you can prove anything with graphs. Especially when the graphs are non-scientific. Or not even in any way accurate. At the moment there is a lovely set of bus shelter ads by the currency convertors Travelex which do exactly this. Unfortunately I am unable to find an offical version of this ad, so I’ll just have to post my version on trust.

The just here is that the left bar is Travelex rate for ’100 dollars, the bar on the right is Marks & Sparks. The difference when you look at the figures provided is less that two dollars. But on the graphs it looks significantly larger. That is because the graph has
a) No key
b) no scale
c) an asterix by the side of it which notably says “Graph not to scale”.


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)

Oh Calcutta!

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(Back to pub crawl reports soon, I’m sure)

Living in Tooting we get our fair share of Indian takeaway menus through the door. But the latest was more unusual than most. Not the food, which was a pretty standard masala-korma-bhuna-vinda line-up, but the cover copy. “Mother Theresa’s favourite chef”.

This is a problematic claim. First of all, she’s dead. Second of all, even when she wasn’t she never came to Streatham. Of course the chef may well have been MT’s favourite in Calcutta and has since moved here. But even so the boast rests on us assuming that Mother Theresa’s general good works extend to having great taste in curry. Which doesn’t follow at all! Maybe he was her favourite chef because his food was really cheap and so could feed more people. Or maybe she liked really horrible tasting gruel. Points for imagination, then, but my loyalty to the Bombay Bicycle Club is unshaken.

Further examples of saintly endorsement of takeaways welcome. This phenomenon deserves investigation.