Nobody’s Perfect in Snaresbrook

Day 11 cntd (29th August 2009)

The Railway Bell (South Woodford) ½ London Pride, ½ Stella, ½ Strongbow £4.35

We moved, slightly confusingly, from Woodford to South Woodford, and from The Railway Tavern, to The Railway Bell.  Helpfully, it was right opposite the station entrance, so we could perform a smash and grab raid and make up some lost time.

This turned out to be a good decision, seeing as the pub itself was perfectly inoffensive, but excruciatingly dull.  It had the usual tasteless patterned carpet spread across the bar area, 3 big screens showing Sky Sports, a pool table and a dart board, old beer barrels set up as tables, cheap offers on John Smiths Smooth, and, in a grudging nod to the 21st century, it had a snazzy looking digital jukebox on one wall. Unfortunately, modern or not, it was spitting out some fairly crap music whilst we were there. The ale was in perfectly good condition, and the barmaid was nice and smiley, but none of us felt any real need to linger. We’d seen this sort of pub far too many times already on this mission, and if we were going to find some Rock at the end of the night, we needed to Roll right now. Ok, that was a crappy joke, but nevertheless – time to go.

The Cuckfield (Snaresbrook) 3 x ½ Doom Bar £4.05

KL and Gareth - Catalogue Poses at The Cuckfield

The place we rolled on to was Snaresbrook, and having utterly failed to find The Eagle anywhere nearby, we noticed that just up the road, and OBVIOUSLY the closest pub to the station was The Cuckfield Tavern, an imposing looking corner pub just opposite the local war memorial.

Now this was more like it – something a bit different at last. We thought it was part of the Castle pub chain, but they’d really gone to town on this one: lots of exposed brickwork, crazy chandeliers, and so many different types of chair they could have opened an interior design store. Perhaps they had, although I couldn’t see any price tags anywhere.

“Plenty of ‘art’ around the walls” said our notes, clearly dripping with sarcasm due to the knocked-up-in-five-minutes-by-a-twelve-year-old look of the paintings. There was also a great big fireplace at the back of the building, which initiated a heated debate between the three of us about whether it was actually an “inglenook” fireplace or not (for the record, we think it definitely was, even though it had no seats).  The pub had by far the best beer range of the day so far, with continental lagers, at least three different wheat beers and five cask ales – we all plumped for the Doom Bar, which, it has to be said was rather fabulous.

However, above all this, the crowning glory of The Cuckfield was its beer garden – a great big space with an eclectic mix of furniture, wooden partitions and parasols, and a giant barbecue in one corner. The perfect place to while away time on a Saturday afternoon drinking beer and talking utter bollocks.  The perfect place to get into a heated debate then….

INTERLUDE: Essential Pub Conversations Number 14 – What Are The Greatest Nicknames of All Time?

We had, as suggested, already spent some time debating which particular subject of global importance we could cover off today, and the matter was finally settled when Gareth told us a story about the legend that is cricketer Sachin Tendulkar:

Apparently Yorkshire have an Under-17 all rounder on their books called Adil Ditta, who now goes by the nickname of “Fivedulkar”. Why? “Because he’s half as good as Tendulkar.” Marvellous.

We felt we had to take it on from here. We must identify and celebrate the greatest nicknames of all time – from history, from sport and from the world of entertainment. Oh yes. We continue to address the issues that the politicians are afraid of.

Any ground rules? Well, only one that we could think of – NO DARTS PLAYERS. Otherwise, we’d be here for months.  So apologies to The Crafty Cockney, The Power, The Artist, Hawaii 501, The Count, Darth Maple, One-Dart, The Silverback, The Rocket, The Viking, Bravedart, The King, Mase the Ace, The Heat, The Hammer, The Bull, Wolfie and The Wizard – we just don’t have room for you all.

The debate raged seemingly for hours – although this in itself was pretty similar to most of the other arguments we’d had in the course of our mission.  The sheer breadth of the names we covered was extraordinary, the dedication was huge, and the level of brain power we used could probably have kept a lightbulb illuminated for a full four or five milliseconds. Having said that, even the most casual search on the web since Day 11 immediately highlighted the vast number of options that we actually missed. With apologies, here is what we did remember.

The Contenders

Entertainment – Plenty of royalty and nobility here, from The King of Hollywood (Clark Gable), to The King of Rock’n’Roll (Elvis, of course), The Duke (John Wayne) and not forgetting The Prince of Darkness (Ozzy Osbourne). We also liked Charlie “Bird” Parker, “Dizzie” Gillespie (who could crop up again in sport as the cricketer Jason Gillespie), and of course, The Godfather of Soul (James Brown).

History – We dug up plenty more royalty and nobility from past times, such as “Longshanks” or “Hammer of the Scots” (Edward I), the “Virgin Queen” (Elizabeth I) and “The Iron Duke” (Duke of Wellington). The wild west gave us “Buffalo” Bill, and Billy “The Kid”, the Second World War gave us “Il Duce” (Mussolini) and “The Red Baron” (Baron von Richtofen). I think our favourite though, was William the Conqueror, who before he came over and bitchslapped Harold and his armies at Hastings, was known simply as William “The Bastard”. Simples.

Sport – Less awash with royalty here, unless you count “Prince” Naseem Hamed (we didn’t), and we also decided to avoid the obvious snooker/weather based nicknames (Hurricane, Whirlwind etc). Golf gave us “The Walrus” (Craig Stadler) the “Wild Thing” (John Daley), and “The Great White Shark” (Greg Norman); cricket gave us “Beefy” (Ian Botham), “Mr Cricket” (Mike Hussey) and “The Turbanator” (Harbajan Singh); boxing also gave us loads of options, but you can’t really get past “The Greatest” can you?

Our top 5:

At the end of all this, being the humour obsessed juveniles that we so obviously are, we were always going to gravitate towards the nicknames that made us laugh. Otherwise it would have to be names that are just so famous that they are instantly known across the word.

5. “Afghanistan”

Mark Waugh. Often overshadowed by his elder brother Steve in his early career, and was nicknamed after the 1979 Afghanistan conflict – “The Forgotten War”.

4. “Pele”

Edson Arantes do Nascimento. A childhood nickname with no meaning. Nevertheless one of the most recognizable words on the planet. Hands up who thought it was his real name?

3. “Tiger”

Eldrick Woods. The other most recognizable nickname on the planet. Named after a soldier friend of his dad’s, and not, surprisingly, because he is a “Tiger” with the ladies….

2. “Nobody”

John Eales, the Australian second row and former captain, who was one of the greatest forwards ever to play the game. Why? Because “Nobody’s Perfect”. Brilliant.

1. “One Size”

Fitz Hall, the Crystal Palace and Oldham footballer. No explanation required. Just Genius.

Disagree? Thought so. Feel free to tell us why.

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