Posts from 12th February 2010

12
Feb 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Group B – Argentina 2 Nigeria 2

FT//27 comments • 1,282 views

Today’s game sees Argentina, managed by Jonathan Bogart, take on Nigeria, managed by Matt DC. Argentina crashed out of the 2006 competition in the first round, and they’ve hired a manager with an impressive knowledge of pop tactics. Nigeria are tipped by some to become the first African winners of the Pop World Cup. This could be Group B’s most crucial match.

As ever, play the tracks and vote. This one ends at midnight on the 18th.

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The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 7: The Head Of Steam / Doric Arch, Euston

FT + Pumpkin Publog6 comments • 1,485 views

This is the only pub on our list to have changed hands, its name and still retained a degree of quality. We came into the new millennium with this odd station pub being called the Head Of Steam, and left with the much grander name of the Doric Arch. Internally the changes were merely cosmetic, a new brewery had all its ales on all the time, but maintained a rotating batch of guest ales. The Railway tat was toned down a bit, but only a bit. And the code on the toilet, that remained. Head Of Steam? Doric Arch? Just call it the HASDA and its appeal becomes clear. There are some days when it just HASDA be this pub.

Under all the rules of the game, the HASDA is a station pub, though the bounds and catchment area of Euston Station means that there is a far nastier station pub directly inside the frame of Euston (the Britannia – handily twinned with the walk-in Medi+Care Centre). But then Euston is a funny place, a new build carved out of the old, all black and concrete. The old name conjured up athe glorious age of rail travel, steamy engines which had long gone. The new name conjured up the old Euston Station, with its Doric Arches, rather than all new Euston’s Dullish Arses. But even in ten years this has changed; the slightly overgrown concourse of what may well be Euston Square has become slowly inhabited by swish looking portakabined Nandos and the like. It is like the Harlequin centre in Watford had sent its food court on holiday, with Krispy Kreme and Banger Bros missing the return train. Sometimes I look out of the windows in the Doric Arch and remember when it was all distressed concrete and weeds around here.

Actually the HASDA is that even rarer of breeds. A successful, brutalist pub in an office block adjoined to a BUS STATION. A pub which is on the first floor, with its toilets locked away two floors below, locked for fear of vagrants living in them. I once went to a Izikaya on the ninth floor of a tower block in Nigata in Japan, and it had a similar feel of locked in grimness, which vanished as soon as the first beer was drunk. And luckily the beer in the HASDA has always been good. This gives the HASDA its edge, and makes it much more than a quick commuter turnaround pub. It is perfectly set out for a quick drink. But we have had quite slow, long and protracted drinks here too. The Top 100 Films of All Time In 2003 was worked out in the Head Of Steam around a nice big central table, and other short drinks have lasted until closing time. Indeed this very list of pubs was supposed to have been worked out in the Doric – except it was too full.

Which does bring us to the HASDA’s downfall (for this list at least). It is a commuter, station pub and therefore can get unfeasibly rammed at times. There are not that many tables (and you can never get the train carriage table these days), so for a big group it is sometimes suicide in there. Bearing in mind its proximity to a number of other great pubs, losses are often cut and the party moves on. Leaving a bitter taste about this otherwise wonderful pub.

It is also one of the few pubs where the landlord, or chief barman, or whatever his sarcastic but perfect job title is, has stayed the same for a long period of time. I cannot help but think that this is the main reason it still offers so many interesting other beers after Fullers bought the place. Its also why the sport is never too loud, why the beer is kept well and the food is adequate. I know there are others who want to declare a sort of seedy love for the HASDA, so I will leave it to them too. All I have to say is “CX4321” and it all comes flooding back.