Day 5 (Jan 17th 2009)
To quote Reg from the People’s Front of Judea: “Siblings. Let us not be downhearted! One total catastrophe like this is just the beginning!”
Tomorrow, or more specifically next Saturday, IS another day. A day to get back up again, dust ourselves off after the High Barnet disaster, and continue on our epic quest. Of course, the main problem with doing this was that it was still mid January, and therefore still colder than a Polar Bear’s toenail outside. Mind you, at least I remembered my scarf this time.
Good news from Mr Lewis. We knew that having guest stars along was vital both for team morale and for talking rubbish, and Keith had been drumming up support for later in the day: We were apparently likely to see a fine friend of his called Dave Gardener, who was inexplicably keen on joining us for a beer despite a recent case of Pneumonia. That’s the kind of grit we need on our team! Further support would be provided by another friend, Brian, who would join us if we made it down as far as Putney which is his neck of the woods. There was even a rumour going around that Liam had been so affected by the highs and lows of the previous week that he was keen to join us again. Glutton for punishment.
In yet another master class of forward planning, we plotted a meticulous route that would take us down to the end of the District Line that we had managed to miss on Day 1. We would then walk from Wimbledon across to South Wimbledon where we would pick up the South end of the Northern Line and head back in to town from there. “Simples”. We had also discovered that the pub at West Brompton, where we should have started, wasn’t open until well after the site at Fulham Broadway, so we should do the old switcheroo on these two stations. Yes indeed – a bit of research and we actually felt like we knew what we were doing for once! An error free day beckoned….
Lloyds Number One (Fulham Broadway) 2 x ½ Directors £2.10
Who’d have thought that the cheapest beer of the tour so far would be found just a stone’s throw from mega-rich Chelsea FC? That’s Wetherspoons for you. Even if it is Lloyds No.1 – sort of posh Wetherspoons.
Comedy moment number one presented itself immediately: Ten past eleven in the morning and they had bouncers on the door! This was, of course because there was a Chelsea home match on today, but it was still highly amusing to be told that we could only come in if we were Chelsea Members or had Match Day tickets. Mr Lewis smoothly stepped in and explained our mission, at which point they gave us a look that was halfway between contempt and boredom, before allowing us in and turning their attention to the pensioner waiting behind us: “Sorry sir, you’re going to have to take your cap off before we let you in – the CCTV needs to be able to identify faces if anything kicks off”. Seriously, he must have been 70 years old and weighed nine stone sopping wet. Still, you never can tell – it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch.
This is not your typical supporter’s pub. Nevertheless it was two thirds full already and had a very buzzy atmosphere about it. And a lot of people wearing blue. The beer was very good as well as being cheap, and I think we were also both impressed by the match day food prices – £3.39 for Spicy King Prawns, anyone? Couldn’t vouch for the organic/fresh/sustainable nature of said prawns though. Wait a minute, can seafood even be organic?
In fact the only annoying thing so far was that our halves of Directors were served up in plastic glasses, but then I guess you can never be too careful. Maybe our faces didn’t fit – perhaps we looked like dodgy away fans looking to start something.
The Tournament (West Brompton) 1 x ½ Pride, 1 x ½ GK IPA £3.10
Lying in the shadow of the sprawling monstrosity that is Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is an unassuming but modern corner boozer called the Tournament. It is a place that I have had cause to visit a few times previously – anyone who has endured the carpeted hell of a trade show will understand the need to get to the nearest pub quickly and sling some ale down your throat.
The Tournament is part of a small-ish chain of pubs, and on first impression has an ever so slightly bland air about it. However, as we pushed our way through more Chelsea fans to get to the bar we noticed a decent looking menu (and the burgers we saw being carried out looked great), and a reasonable range of beers on the bar. We were also greeted by an impossibly wide smile from Claire, the New Zealand barmaid.
I know what you’re thinking – an Antipodean barperson in Earls Court? Surely not! She was however happy, efficient, and good fun which can certainly help raise anyone’s experience of a pub out of the ordinary and in to the enjoyable. The beer was in pretty good nick too, which also helps.
We sipped our brews and considered life, the universe and everything yet again. What actually followed was a highly controversial conversation about religion guaranteed to offend almost anyone that hears it. Would you believe it all stemmed from a throwaway comment about Mr Tom Cruise and the stick he gets over Scientology. The upshot? How can we take the piss out of Scientology and its alien talk, when virtually all the main religions on earth are based on equally preposterous legends, hearsay and leaps of faith. Whoa – very deep for 11.30am.
Claire looked faintly bewildered by the whole thing, but managed to keep smiling throughout which is to her credit. All of a sudden though, we were getting seriously hemmed in by a continuous rush of Chelsea fans into the pub (there can’t have been anyone sober in Stamford Bridge by the time kick off came around). Definitely time to move on.