Herbal Teas and Album Artwork

Day 13 1/2 (24th September 2009)

The Ferry Boat Inn (Tottenham Hale) ½ Amstel, ½ Batemans XXXB £2.80

Of course we were less concerned about the long walk to the Palmerston at the last station, because we knew that the next pub was no more than fifty yards away from Tottenham Hale station. Except it wasn’t. Indeed, for the second station in a row the pub that we thought we were visiting was gone. Kaputt. Closed. Brilliant.

It also turned out that – predictably – on this occasion we didn’t have anything else on our usually exhaustive research, so frankly we didn’t have a clue what to do. We eventually resorted to accosting the locals and asking them where the nearest pub was, and fantastically almost nobody had any idea where to send us. How can a dozen different locals not know where the closest boozer is? Either that or they were just desperate to get away from the two weirdoes who were so clearly in need of their next alcohol fix. Eventually we wandered into the local Pizza Hut and found an unlikely saviour in the shape of the waitress there, who told us that we needed to walk back towards Blackhorse Lane and find The Ferry Boat. Christ, it was bloody miles – almost halfway back to Blackhorse Lane.

The pub was called the Ferry Boat but the nearest stretch of water was the Tottenham Lock canal, which appeared to be just about as rank a piece of water as you could hope to find. I made a pea soup at home once, and it looked quite a lot like that, if you chucked in extra surface scum and old shopping trolleys.

Luckily the pub itself was a slightly more polished affair – very clean wooden beams, tidy looking chalkboards, and tiny clipboards presenting the days specials. It was all clean and tidy and the beer tasted good, although it’s always sad to see five hand pumps with only 2 taps being used, and for God’s sake can pubs stop offering “cask wine” when it is blatantly bag-in-box hiding behind a bit of Formica.

We turned our eyes back to the menus and miniature Specials. They were obviously pushing the food side of things in what they thought was an interesting and bohemian fashion – you don’t get pork fillet with apricots and thyme just anywhere you know. One of the aforementioned blackboards even had a list of herbal teas on it. They then took this eccentricity to a new level by offering “Soup of the Day – Goulash”. Soup? Seriously? Now I’m all for chunky soups, but surely someone needs to stop this madness and publish a clear differentiation between soups and stews. And broths and casseroles for that matter.

INTERLUDE: Essential Pub Conversations Number 17 – What are the most recognizable album covers of all time?

So many people, so many opinions. That’s how it had been for most of our recent days out, and whilst it made for stimulating debate and a broad spectrum of knowledge/bias/insanity, we decided to take the opportunity to go back to basics: It was time to pick a monumentally important subject and produce a definitive work based on nothing more than the highly partisan opinions of two drinkers of a certain age. It had to be back to music then – as fine upstanding fans of “proper” music, we were bound to give a balanced, up to date view on the subject in general.

We had been chatting on several previous occasions about our favourite albums of all time, which – given our earlier work on fantasy rock bands – would have been far too mundane a subject to consider for this mission. Instead, we turned our attention to the visuals. What are those albums that you immediately know, just from seeing the picture on the cover – the iconic images that are instantly recognizable by young and old alike (or in this case, old before our time).

Any rules on this one? Yeah go on then, let’s make it look like we spent some serious time thinking about it, and simultaneously kick out a whole load of obvious choices:

1. No band members – If the album has the faces of the band on it, then it becomes obvious who the artist is. This unfortunately means there is no room for virtually any of The Beatles or Bowie back catalogue (otherwise Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road would surely be up there), and also pushes out Appetite for Destruction by Guns and Roses (a close call given that it is actually only cartoon skulls of their faces).

2. No writing – at least not if it is the only thing on the album cover (which immediately disqualifies “Never Mind the Bollocks”)

3. No nudity – actually this wasn’t a rule at all. We just wanted to make sure there was no room for “Two Virgins” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Eugh.

So where did we end up? Well, in the end, it seems that we are indeed old farts. Either that or everybody forgot how to do album artwork after about 1982. In no particular order (as usual), our very own, hugely debated, top ten most recognizable album covers were:

1. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon – in truth we were tempted by several Floyd titles (The Wall, Wish You Were Here, Atom Heart Mother) but we had to go for the most iconic. You know the one – black cover? Prism? About 200 squillion copies sold? Thought so.

2. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers – it was by Andy Warhol, so it must be cool. It’s got a working zip and everything!

3. Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms – Middle of the road Dadrock it may be, but everyone has a copy of “the one with the steel guitar on.”

4. The Clash, London Calling – Awesome in every way. Iconic instrument abuse.

5. Nirvana, Nevermind – “Baby in swimming pool”. What do you mean this was in the nineties?

6. The Velvet Underground and Nico – “What was that one with the banana on it? Everyone remembers that one.” Bloody Warhol again.

7. The Eagles, Hotel California – “Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light.” Namely a picture of The Beverley Hills Hotel at sunset.

8. Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell – After approximately 300 years in the worldwide album chart it is impossible not to remember the one with, er, a bat coming out of hell on a motorbike.

9. Led Zeppelin IV – It qualifies as long as the bloke with sticks on his back isn’t actually Jimmy Page in a comedy beard.

10. The Prodigy, The Fat of the Land – See, we do like modern music too! What do you mean you don’t remember it? The colourful crab? On the beach? Oh for God’s sake….

Honourable mentions were almost too numerous – which is probably why it took us so long to reach the final ten. They included: Blur, Parklife; REM, Automatic for the People; Primal Scream, Screamadelica; Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells; U2, War; ZZ Top, Eliminator; Supertramp, Breakfast in America; Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA;  and of course not forgetting Spinal Tap, Smell the Glove, “You have to ask, how much more black can you get? And the answer is none. None more black.”

Oh and by the way, the most embarrassing looking album covers of all time are all by furry booted-hairspray-crap-metal band Manowar. Trust us, they all look like a fourteen year old Dungeons and Dragons fan’s wet dream. Shouldn’t ever see the light of day.

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