From Big Brother to The Britannia

Day 7 cntd (25th April 2009)

INTERLUDE: Essential Pub Conversations Number 10 – What are The Ten Pieces of Information That Could be Held on a National ID Card

You may have noticed that quite a few of the essential pub conversations we have had so far have involved sport, movies or music.  In fact, it has been somewhat unfairly suggested to us, that we only take interest in trivial matters such as these, and ignore some of the more important issues concerning the modern world.

Please allow us to respond. Firstly, how can anyone suggest that any of those subjects listed above are trivial? I personally think that if we elected our politicians on the basis of how good they are at cricket or how many times they have seen The Usual Suspects, the country almost certainly wouldn’t be in the state it is now. Secondly, never let it be said that Keith and I don’t listen – if you want us to deal with weighty issues, then we shall.

We decided to tackle the hot potato that is the proposed National Identity Card. At least it was a hot potato until earlier in the summer when Alan Johnson announced that they would not be compulsory as first planned, thereby turning the country’s fierce outrage into total indifference.

Still, surely this still qualifies as a “Big Subject”, and as such it is our duty as pub-goers to have an opinion. So, we put on our most pompous attitudes, enlisted the help of my brother Gareth (who, as we know, is never short of an opinion), and prepared to tackle it head on.

The question: Given that the proposed card would have one of those fancy electronic chips to store data on, what are the ten pieces of vital information that should be on the card?

As usual, we talked and argued over the course of several station stops, and eventually put our list together. We decided against certain bits of info that would have seemed obvious – address for example, given that it can change regularly or race/ethnic background, as we deemed it unnecessary – and we included a couple that are probably less obvious, but clearly essential in our eyes.

So without further ado, here are our Top Ten Pieces of Information That Could be Held on a National ID Card:

  1. Full Name and Nationality
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Gender
  4. Fingerprint
  5. DNA Sample
  6. National Insurance Number
  7. Issue/Expiry Date
  8. Blood Type
  9. Passport Details

    10.  Top Three Films of All Time


Ok, so 1 -4 are fairly obvious. And sorry about number 10, but we just couldn’t resist.

Footnote: Since this discussion took place, a bit more research has revealed that in actual fact the proposed card, biometric chip and register could hold up to 49 categories of information. So we may have more work to do.   


The Northumberland Arms (Warren Street) 1 ½ Heineken, ½ San Miguel, ½ Pedigree £8.20

Hazel and Entourage at The Northumberland Arms

Hazel and Entourage at The Northumberland Arms

We were approaching the end of our unscheduled adventure for today, but decided to try and fit in Warren Street and Euston Station before we finished. We knew that there was a pub within the station itself at Euston, but were less sure about where to go on our penultimate stop.

The easiest thing to do of course, was to get out and look around, which we duly did – checking down side streets as well as the main thoroughfare of Tottenham Court Road. The two options that we could see were either the Northumberland Arms, or a hotel just a few doors down.

Liam, bursting with enthusiasm for his next beer, charged up to the reception desk in the hotel and asked where the bar was and could we use it? The chap at the desk paused just long enough to look us all up and down with barely concealed contempt, before saying “I’m sorry sir, our bar is strictly for residents only.” Charming.

Of course had Liam been with us previously at The Lanesborough Hotel, he would have known that the correct way of doing this is to walk in, completely ignore reception, and look like you know exactly what you are doing as you stride purposefully towards your destiny of a hugely overpriced drink. Never mind.

Instead we nipped across to The Northumberland Arms which, incredibly for 10.30pm on a Saturday night, had about eight people in it, including ourselves and the bar staff.  It’s a pub run by Faucet Inns (amusing play on words chaps), and is perfectly nice, if a tiny bit dull. It’s had a bit of modernisation done and there is now lots of exposed wood, dark colours abound, there’s a big screen TV in one corner, and some interesting chandeliers hang down from the ceiling.  Only two real ales on, but Keith indicated that his Pedigree was pretty good (the beer, not his breeding).

I couldn’t help but hold on to my possessions just a little bit tighter than normal, since me and this place have history. I was sat at the tiny outside area one summer’s afternoon a couple of years ago, and managed to get my jacket stolen from the back of my chair.  Fairly lax and  unobservant you might think, but it only took me a couple of seconds (and a shout from the couple behind me) to realise what had happened.  I got even cleverer at this point, as I immediately gave chase, leaving my laptop and brief case completely unattended at the table. Nice work genius. Still, I got the jacket back, so all is well that ends well. Of course had anyone tried to steal anything from us on this night, it would have been the easiest whodunit in the world, since 80% of the potential suspect were either behind the bar, or in our group.


The Britannia (Euston) 1 pint Bass, ½ Becks, 1 x bt Cobra, 1 pint Stella £11.20

We just about made it through the labyrinthine tunnels of Euston Underground, and out into the main station itself to get The Britannia before they rang the bell for time. It’s upstairs on one side of the main atrium, and is just about as typical as you can get for a station pub – it has made an attempt to look like a normal, traditional pub, but the effect is about as realistic as Ann Robinson’s face.

The barman served us, took our cash and then immediately told us we had 15 minutes to drink up and get out, which was nice. Keith was the only one brave enough to try the ale, and his only comment was “Fairly ropey”. I think that says it all.  A large sign on the wall, and another one by the door proudly proclaimed that they were offering full English breakfast for £2.99 – looks like good value on the face of it, but I can only imagine what’s in the sausages at that price. Euston station itself is a pretty soulless place so I guess the Britannia fits right in.  In fact our final notes of the day summed our feelings up: “Trying desperately to think of something to say about the place, but it was just so characterless.”

One crappy pub at the end however, could not detract from the fact that we had completed another highly successful day. We had adapted and overcome our early problems, and improvised our route at the end. Hazel had been great value all day, as was Liam when he turned up for the final surge. We had finished only five minutes away from St Pancras and the train home, and best of all, we knew that we were somewhere around half way through the quest overall. Home stretch in sight! Albeit an incredibly long, drawn out home stretch, but that’s fine, we had the summer ahead of us, and plenty of friends to boost our morale on the way. Bring it on!


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