Day 3 cntd (19th Dec 2008)
Walkabout (Temple) 2 x Corona, 2 x Vodka Coke £10.80
Motion (Embankment) 1 x Bt Becks, 1 x Sambucca £7.20
Disaster strikes! Embankment station should clearly have been the penultimate stop on this particular leg of our Odyssey, but we were faced with a very bleak situation. We knew that the closest venue to the station was definitely Motion, a big split level bar come nightclub owned by the same folk who brought us the Tiger Tiger chain. We also knew that because it was Friday night after 11, there was a good chance that they might be charging to get in, which whilst not 100% against our rules, certainly went against the spirit of the enterprise. So, whilst Keith checked out the door policy at Motion, myself Dave and Pilot nipped out on the North side of the station to investigate Gordon’s Wine Bar on Villiers Street which was almost as close, and unlikely to be charging an entrance fee. Very nice bar it was too, a proper little downstairs den with lots of wood panelling and decorative wine bottles. Unfortunately, it was also very closed, having rung Time at the Bar at least 15 minutes previously. Panicking only slightly, we rushed back to Motion, only to find that the door police wanted a full ten English pounds just to get in. Had we really come so far, almost full circle in fact, just to be scuppered at the last but one hurdle? This had the potential to become a horror story that we might never truly recover from.
It was at this point that we noticed that we were missing something. Someone, in fact. A couple of unanswered phone calls ensued, until eventually Lewis sauntered out of Motion, having blagged his way in on the pretence of “looking for a mate”, casually knocked back a bottle of Becks and then left.
One in, three to go – but unfortunately the bouncers were now looking at myself, Dave and Pilot with nothing short of contempt. We clearly needed to regroup and plan a new angle of attack, and so we moved on to Temple – which should have been the final stop on our Christmas adventure. Another moment of terror was encountered when we realised that since it was gone 11.30 by now, they were also charging to get in at the Walkabout. However after what seemed like 20 minutes of fluttering our eyelashes at the bouncers (unsuccessful), and explaining our grand quest (slightly more successful), we found ourselves inside the cavernous interior of one of the UKs premier chains of Aussie/Kiwi/South African/Backpacker/Cheap food/Student bars.
I don’t think we need to say too much on the review of this one – they all have the usual Antipodean signs and sports shirts around the Walls, giant screen tellies everywhere, and the fact that they advertise Kangaroo steaks alongside the normal Burger and Chips type stuff tells you all you need to know about the food offering. However they do have a certain charm to them, and are great places to be if you a) just want late drinks, b) are on the pull looking for drunk
backpackers and/or students, or c) if you want to talk endless shite about virtually any sport in the world to a bunch of complete strangers. It is probably no surprise that the chain is struggling as a whole, because it is a concept that hasn’t changed in God knows how many years, but if you like sport and you like beer, then there are many, many worse places you could put yourself at the weekend.
So here we were in a situation where one of us had completed the Circle Line challenge (Keith), one of us had had such a good time that he didn’t really care about completing it (Pilot), and one of us who had also had a great time, but had only joined us half way round anyway (Dave). Which left poor old Mr West visibly shaking with frustration, and desperately trying to think of ways to get back into Motion without paying. At this point our two guest stars gallantly suggested that it would probably be easier to get back in if it was only one person, and that they quite fancied getting the train back to St Albans now anyway. God bless you boys – you have our gratitude for a) sacrificing yourselves for the greater good, and b) being such hilarious company throughout the day itself.
So, we bade farewell to our noble friends and headed back to Embankment for one last roll of the dice. Once more it was down to Keith’s world class blagging skills to get me through the door. “I went in before to try and find our friend who is supposed to be leaving with us, but I think I missed him, and Jamie here has got much better eyesight than me….” Or something like that. It sort of worked, anyway, because they let me in – albeit on the condition that I handed over the ten quid which would be refunded to me as long as I was out again within 15 minutes. Thanks for the trust guys.
With an almost imperceptible salute to my partner in crime I coughed up the security money and ventured down the stairs. I have been to Motion a couple of times before, and it was much as I remembered it – spread out over a couple of levels via various staircases, lots of exposed brickwork, big block tables for posing at, several low sofa areas and plenty of dance space around the rooms.
I eventually made it down to the basement bar (via a seemingly endless expedition to find the loos), where there was of course a huge sound system pounding out Funky House Music at a level which renders trying to make conversation with anyone absolutely pointless. This of course was not a problem for me, as I was on a very tight timescale, and there was nothing to do but pile up to the bar, order a shot, down it and then get the hell out of town. This was then followed immediately by a final moment of blind panic as I looked around and realised that I had absolutely no idea which staircase would lead me out of this place. Oh.
So I did what any self respecting man would do – which is to say that I did that embarrassing sort of “walk/dance in time to the music” type of shuffle around the venue whilst peering around pretending to look for someone, thereby hopefully convincing everyone that I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going, all the while desperately looking for anything that resembled an exit.
Finally I picked the right door, and retrieved my tenner with a good two or three minutes to spare, and I found Mr Lewis outside on the Embankment, a picture of satisfaction now that he knew that we had both managed to complete the day’s task. Had there not already been 27 of them already today, we may have even been tempted to try and find a celebratory drink in view of a job well done……