THE PUB OF POLITICS
(The Blue Posts, Berwick Street, Soho: Two Rounds)

The Blue Posts on Newman Street was, as ever, almost entirely deserted. Its Berwick Street namesake is rammed, and we’re forced into a pokey corner near the cig machine and a curious vitrine in which a Damien Hirst-style display of nasty comestibles dustily sits. Chief among the attractions of this art installation is a bottle of hideous 70s wine Black Tower. Very odd. Next to us, occupying a huge table by himself, is a man who looks like a haggard version of Johnny Depp. He has obviously been stood up and it hasn’t filtered from brainstem to cerebellum yet, but his miserable demeanor suggests the moment of dawning truth isn’t far off.

No sooner have we raised our glasses than Tim announces he’s found a friend. Jim, the head of Matinee Records and the man who put out Tim’s band’s retrospective CD, is on the premises. An affable American from Washington DC who has been drinking since two, he is pleased to meet us all and considering the grilling we gave him was a jolly good sport. What better way to break the ice than with a discussion of Amelia Fletcher’s bra? The Heavenly singer has been performing with indie supergroup Sportique, and apparently has taken to stripping down to her bra and, frankly, leaping about. Tim is aghast, having walked out of a Sportique performance before this happy stage was reached.

Ms. Fletcher has a high-paid corporate day job, and shortly ‘Headhunters vs Headhunters’ is born. The rules of this surefire TV smash hit are simple. Every week a group of professional recruitment consultants are dropped in the jungles of Papua New Guinea where they find themselves at the mercies of actual headhunters. The game ends when they are all dead, and the music is naturally provided by Herbie Hancock. I sing “Rocket”, stupidly, and Jim tells us tales of Tim’s pop star past (which I missed, alas).

This Blue Posts has a curious toilet arrangement. There is a door next to where we are standing, marked ‘PRIVATE’. Somebody pushes it and is sternly told by the bar staff that no, that is not the lavs, it is a private area. The toilets are on the other side. OK, fair dos, walk round to the other side. Up some stairs. Ah, it is another door, also marked ‘PRIVATE’. However if you open this one it leads to a toilet complete with aluminium splashback facility.

I return from the toilet to find a very boring conversation about Firkin pubs continuing. If Pete wants to devote a post to this then that is his future lookout but I will draw a veil. It is mercifully interrupted by Johnny Depp’s brokenhearted departure and we sit down to talk about politics, i.e. harass Jim about the American election.

For a good twenty minutes the conversation is a Proper Serious One along those lines, though when Billy Bragg’s electoral reforms get a mention it’s clear the writing is on the wall for lucid and informed discussion. In the end it’s Dave’s sighting of a priest hole that did for matters. What is a priest hole? Well, thereby hangs a tale, and a very confused one dredged up from half-remembered Sunday teatimes watching By The Sword Divided. (It’s a hole where you’d hide priests.)

What are our conclusions from the political half-hour. That the Palestinian Society is the most powerful one in SOAS, and that China is the stupidest country in the world. (Proof! Proof! There are stupid people everywhere. So it stands to reason there must be more of them in China.)

Politics are swiftly forgotten in favour of a favourite pastime, pouring prejudice and scorn upon American pubs. The hardline opinion on this is ‘there are none’ – the liberal view is ‘there are some but they are shit’. From that we come to the petrol/beer price comparison – at ’14 a gallon, beer is plainly a national scandal. Two pints in and we are getting itchy feet: though we would love to stay where we have after all a table and an excellent drinking companion, there are three Blue Posts to get to. Next stop: Kingly Street.

Pumpkin Publog