Day 8 cntd (13th June 2009)
The Green Man (Edgware Road) 2 x ½ London Pride, 1 x Corona, 1 x Coke £7.45
There was a previous day on our trip when we were grateful that we didn’t have to visit The Green Man at Edgware Road because we were on the Circle Line and there was a different entrance much closer to a pub called The Chapel. Turns out that on the Bakerloo Line, Edgware Road is pretty much an entirely different station, and so our level of dedication and professionalism demanded that we stop here and visit the aforementioned venue.
Our reluctance to visit previously was mainly based on the fact that it just looks a bit, well, dull and grotty, and so we were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t the worst pub of the day by some distance. True, it was a very traditional chain pub and certainly wasn’t going to win any awards, but it was no Earl Haig either. It was Liz who spotted that the place also operated as a hostel – her eagle eyes picking out the bewildered looking bloke at the end of the bar, wearing a huge rucksack, combat shorts and an inadvisable drover’s hat and asking where check-in was. His hat was covering up his forehead, so we couldn’t see if it had “Tourist” or “Backpacker” tattooed there.
Lucky for us too, that it was Karaoke Night in The Green Man – a momentous event that seemed to entail a dozen or so bored looking punters determinedly ignoring the over-enthusiastic lady who was firstly exhorting them to get their song requests in quickly “to avoid the rush later”, and then intermittently breaking up the monotony of this task by singing another “classic” from the 70s or 80s. The response from the customers at the end of each of these songs could only be described as supremely indifferent. In terms of volume and enthusiasm, they made the crowd at a funeral sound like teenage girls at a Beatles/Bay City Rollers/Take That/Jonas Brothers gig (delete according to age).
There was clearly only one course of action that could be taken in light of this musical opportunity, and that was to embrace the spirit of our quest and fully experience the pub that we found ourselves in. In other words, Rhino and Liz, in between fits of giggles, demanded that one of us go up and sing a song before we left, and it was Mr West that got the job.
“We have to leave in five minutes, but can I do one before we go?” I asked Miss Enthusiasm.
What followed was a rendition of Daydream Believer that sounded brilliant in the privacy of my own head but probably considerably less so in the ears of the other customers. Still Keith, Liz and Rhino all stood off to the side and merrily clapped and cheered and sang, and at least two other people looked over. In fact I’m pretty sure one guy by the bar was even tapping his feet in time. Mercifully it is a fairly short song, so we were soon able to escape back into the Underground. “Give it up one more time for Jamie!” I thought I heard Miss Enthusiasm shout as we left (It is of course equally possible that she was just shouting “Give it up, Jamie”). I was still slightly bewildered by the fact that in the course of the fifteen steps from the stage to the front door, no one called me back for an encore performance. I guess they were just overwhelmed or something.
The Mirror Bar at The Landmark (Marylebone) 2 x bt Proof, 1 x Vodka, Lime and Soda, 1 x Vodka and Tonic £34.60
We were quickly approaching the end of this particular part of the adventure, and as always at this point, time was becoming something of an issue. It didn’t help therefore that Marylebone Station forced us into drastic measures. Would you believe that at 10 pm – i.e. during normal British licensing hours – the V and A Station Bar was very, very closed. In fact, I had something of a hissy fit at this point because when I opened the door to enquire of the chap inside as to whether they really were closed, he looked at me as if I was the maddest bloke on the planet to think that we could get a beer, in a pub at ten o’clock on a Saturday night. Don’t you just hate customers? Always trying to buy stuff from you? I finished a long rant into the Dictaphone with an impassioned if slightly childish flourish:
“Actually, I’m bloody glad the V and A is shut because it looks like a shitty, crappy station pub, and I hope they go out of business.” That told ‘em.
We had no choice but to move quickly, and our alternate destination was immediately clear. We needed to hit the back door of The Landmark Hotel, right opposite the station entrance. We put on our by-now-familiar self-important attitudes, and bowled into the hotel praying to God that it was obvious where the bar was.
It wasn’t. Ten minutes later having sauntered through the absolutely stunning grand atrium restaurant, and having almost crashed a wedding party in the ballroom, we finally found a surprisingly small bar. It was almost like drinking in a friend’s front room, albeit an extremely rich, alcoholic friend. We could almost feel the money draining out of our pockets as we walked in. It wasn’t quite as expensive per drink at the Library Bar at the Lanesborough, but it was pretty bloody close, and the service wasn’t nearly as good. Liz had asked for a Vodka fresh lime and soda, and got given a Vodka, lime cordial and lemonade. You don’t expect that in a five star hotel bar. The poor bloke next to us had to wait nearly fifteen minutes just to pay his bill – I must say, we would’ve been tempted to just assume that they didn’t want our money and subsequently leave.
So, the moral of the story kids – if you are immensely rich and want to get married in a beautiful London Hotel with a huge atrium, the Landmark could be for you. If you are immensely rich and enjoy paying over seventeen quid for two drinks in opulent surroundings, then get yourself off to Hyde Park Corner, because the Lanesborough knocks The Mirror Bar into a cocked hat.
The Albany (Regent’s Park) 2 x Pints Red Stripe, 1 x Vodka Lime and Soda, 1 x Pint Wooden Hand £14.35
Triumphantly we emerged from Regent’s Park Station at quarter to eleven, bathed in the soft glow of the Euston Road streetlights and wrapped in the warm embrace of London diesel fumes. We knew that we needed to walk back to Great Portland Street Tube to find our required destination, but we had a little bit of time in hand, and for once we had no last-pub-of-the-day cock-ups to stress us out any further. We strolled into The Albany satisfied with yet another job well done, and settled in with a pint to round the day off nicely.
Well, to be honest we couldn’t settle in immediately, because there were some idiots in the bar. Rhino had just popped his drink down on the end of a very large table (which could easily accomodate all of us and more) where two blokes were stood at the other end looking at him with some malice.
“Welcome to our table.” Said through clenched teeth.
“Thank you. Is it a nice table?” Asked Rhino, trying to be friendly.
“It was until you got here” Came the reply, as they did their best to pick a fight. Charming.
It should be pointed out that these two gentlemen were inexplicably dressed as cricketers and were clearly three sheets to the wind. Mr Lewis told us he would employ some psychology to diffuse the situation, although this particular brand of psychology involved Keith standing next to them and then turning his back on them completely until they got bored and buggered off. I think they were probably going to the School Disco night in the club over the road, but just got their costumes wrong. That or they went to a very strange private school.
The pub itself is a pretty good one. It’s a big main room, with eclectic, low hanging chandeliers and a nice random mix of seating types. The atmosphere was happy and lively and even the large number of drunk school children didn’t seem odd. They also have a downstairs bar which hosts regular comedy nights – there are certainly many worse places you could go in this part of town.
Probably the only downside was Keith’s pint of ale, which was a bit rough – probably a combination of slow throughput and being a crap beer anyway. Even this couldn’t dent our satisfaction however and we even lingered for another “one for the road” before weaving our merry way back to St Pancras and the last train home.