Day 1 cntd (Oct 4th 2008)
Edwards (Hammersmith): ½ Carling, ½ Amstel £3.10
What a shame. We had a conversation about vaguely remembering when this place used to be the Swan, a pleasant if not outstanding pub in a beautiful building opposite the main entrance to Hammersmith tube station.
Now it is an Edwards, a chain/pub/concept so tired that no amount of fairy lights could cover its relentless mediocrity (although they clearly tried – there were LOTS of fairy lights). It was devoid of any atmosphere, and half full of just-out-of-their-teens type drinkers, sipping bottled beer, chewing gum, and planning how to get off with each other.
Ariane the barmaid was perfectly pleasant, but there were no ales on, and so in the spirit of our “buy English” pact, I was forced to drink Carling – my pet hate – since Keith had done the English thing in the previous three pubs. Ah, Carling – a lager as bland and lacking in flavour as the venue itself.
I think our notes summed the place up best: “Virtually nothing to recommend it, unless you are young and horny or already very drunk”
Which, come to think of it, probably recommends the place to almost anyone under 25 on a Friday or Saturday night.
The Curtains Up (Barons Court): 2 x ½ Adnams £2.66
Who’d have thought, that only midway through our first day, and already we’ve been to more Theatre Pubs than Wetherspoons!
This was our longest walk of the day (admittedly still not very far), but turned out to be a cracking little pub near LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts), with a basement theatre attached. The beer was good if not spectacular, but made all the more pleasant by the fact that it turned out to be the cheapest round of the day.
Unfortunately this was also the point where we had to demonstrate our incredible ability to adapt to any situation, as we realised that, it being a weekend, there were absolutely no trains going through London from our planned departure point at Wimbledon. The oh so simple task of getting a direct train to St Albans was now beyond us, and finishing in Wimbledon circa 11.30pm would present a very tricky phone call to the wives, or alternately a very expensive taxi.
We wisely decided that perhaps the new plan should be to continue along the District line as it ran parallel to the Piccadilly Line, and then follow the dark blue all the way back to St Pancras – our gateway back to St Albans. This meant we could take in the “smaller” stations that didn’t have multiple lines. Trust me; it made sense at the time.
Going back to The Curtains Up, a couple of final things stood out from our notes: firstly that in the first toilet review for a while (sorry we’ve been slacking off on that score), we noticed part of the gents were obviously out of order, since there were two chairs across the room blocking off no less than three urinals and the Condom machine (clearly not good for anyone who’d been to Edwards); secondly, I had rather cryptically written in my notes: “ELECTRIC SCOOTERS! FUN 2 RIDE”. Which could have been a mystery to this day had Keith not found the flyer in his coat advertising bike rentals from next door to the pub….
INTERLUDE – Essential Pub Conversations No 1: Paul Newman Films
Mr Keith Lewis and Mr Jamie West are of the opinion that it is the solemn duty of every regular pub goer to spend at least some of their drinking time talking absolute bollocks. Some, of course, talk more bollocks than others! Whether it is fascinating pub facts (i.e. vaguely remembered half truths gleaned from the internet/the family/school/the Discovery Channel/the Disney Channel); or simply heated debates on “Greatest Ever…” –
with wildly subjective views on films/music/TV shows etc, we firmly believe that the “Pub Conversation” is a fundamental part of the fabric of our society. Indeed, in these tough times, western civilisation could easily collapse altogether if we, as a nation, stop going to the pub and talking out of our collective arse.
As such, we therefore intend to ensure that throughout our colossal Marathon, we will be indulging in the essential debates, putting the world to rights, and generally answering all of the Big Questions in life, usually in the handy form of a top five or top ten list. We make no excuses for personal taste, however embarrassing, and all subjects are debated on and agreed by Messrs Lewis and West (and whoever else sticks their oar in at the time). Messrs Lewis and West will agree the list and their decision is final(ish).
The fantastic thing about recording these conversations, of course, is that when you review your notes at a later, possibly more sober date, you realise just how much of any given subject you are able to forget, depending on the time of day/level of alcohol consumption. As a result, I suspect we will be asking for your indulgence on every single one of the lists we publish….
We had both been on holiday a week or two before the first day out, and had both missed the sad news that Paul Newman had died. He was a great actor and a true film star, and we couldn’t let his passing go without a suitable tribute. So without further ado our very first Essential Pub Conversation produced a short but sweet result:
The Top Five Paul Newman Film Performances (in no particular order)
1. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
2. Cool Hand Luke
3. The Hustler
5. The Colour of Money
Honourable mentions go to Road to Perdition and Slapshot (which is top quality trash), plus huge apologies to Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Verdict and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which may well have made the top five if either of us had remembered them at the time. Sorry.