Northwood, Wetherspoons, Connery and Co

The William Jolle (Northwood Hills) ½ Pedigree, ½ Doc Dimsdale £1.93

Another station, another Wetherspoons. You can’t escape them for long, it would seem. Although, I have to say it did feel like a very long time getting from the heart of the city back out to the wilds of Northwood Hills on the Metropolitan line. 

Ah, Northwood Hills, the beautiful, enticing suburban paradise that gleefully welcomes its visitors by presenting them with a large knife-amnesty bin as they emerge nervously from the station entrance.

On this occasion the Tracks Twosome emerged nervously from the station only to be immediately soothed by the unmistakeable smell of another JDW curry night. I can only assume that it must be something genetic, but it definitely seems that as long as more than approximately 500mls of beer has been drunk, the smell of curry – any curry – immediately entices any normal British male into a bout of extreme salivation that would have Pavlov’s dogs looking away in embarrassment.

We wiped our chins and followed our noses through the door to be confronted by the usual – a by-the-numbers Wetherspoons that we feel like we’ve described dozens of times before. Still, once again they did have a fairly decent range of ales available from the usual suspects like Pedigree to the more unusual guests like Doc Dimsdale from the Tring Brewery. Pretty bloody cheap as well – not quite Swiss Cottage/Sam Smith’s levels, but certainly cheaper than the city Wetherspoons we were in earlier. In fact further evidence of the difference between big city bonuses and suburban thrift came in the shape of the branded spirits on offer – Keith pointed out that you could double up your vodka or gin for only a quid in Northwood Hills, but in the heart of the square mile it was a whole 50p more. More money than sense, those bankers.

INTERLUDE: Essential Pub Conversations Number 18 – What are the worst attempted accents in film history?

This particular one has been raging ever since Al Jolson opened his mouth in 1927 and told us that “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” Apparently the local film critic immediately accused him of “not sounding convincingly Jewish or black.”

And so, the debate has raged through the ages, through all genres of film whenever someone who grew up in Kent has to play a Russian crime boss or someone from Uptown New York attempts to portray someone from Downtown Newcastle. 

Sometimes, there is just no excuse. Film stars get paid millions of dollars and yet regularly perpetrate crimes of such shocking aural ineptitude that they would be immediately fired were it any other profession. We strongly felt it was time for some of them to be named and shamed, and we did just that, in an epic pub conversation that last throughout this day and into the next one. The objective was clear – who are the stars who have either consistently offended with various attempts at regionality and nationality, or alternatively have produced a singular performance so completely heinous that they should be barred from being in front of camera altogether.

Enough preamble: Let’s get to the list.

Honourable mentions: Oh God, there were so many. The most common offenders were attempting either an Irish accent and failing miserably (e.g. Julia Roberts in Mary Shelley; Mickey Rourke in a Prayer for the Dying; Tom Cruise in Far and Away), or were Brits attempting American (Ewan Macgregor in Black Hawk Down, Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules, Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit) or, worst of all, Americans attempting English or Scottish (several of whom made it onto the list below, but let’s not forget the likes of Heather Graham in From Hell, and, of course, Mel Gibson in Braveheart).

However, the final ten we went for consisted of these powerhouse performances:

John Wayne – The Greatest Story Ever Told: I suppose we should have put The Duke in for Genghis Khan in The Conqueror (not knowing how ancient Mongol sounded, he just didn’t bother). However, urban myth demands that he get in for “Centurion at crucifixion” in TGSET for managing to sound like he was fightin’ injuns whilst talking about Jesus himself. The legend has it that at take one, John puts on his best American drawl to deliver his line “Truly this man is the son of God.”  After a short pause, George Stevens, the Director, says “Great John, but can we do it one more time? I need you to put a little more awe into it. This is Our Lord Jesus Christ after all.” With a nod from the big man, everyone resets for take two. Action: “Awwwwww, truly this man is the son of God” Fact.

Mickey Rooney – Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Hugely miscast as the Japanese neighbour, comically bad, and potentially a little bit racist, it’s the worst thing in the film (even worse than George Peppard’s hair). “Horry Gorightry! Horry Gorightry!”

Patsy Kensit – Lethal Weapon 2. “He’s har-ding bear-hind hes deep-lo-martick cred-enshells esnt hee?” Worst Seth Efrikaan accent in history.

Christopher Lambert – in anything, but with particular reference to Highlander (Scottish/American/French) and The Sicilian (One of a very long list of terrible things about that film). In fact, his best role by far was Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, mainly because it consisted of him only having to grunt for two hours.

Dick Van Dyke – Mary Poppins. The absolute granddaddy of all crap cockernee accents, so famous and so terrible it has almost become revered over the years. Clearly the inspiration for Don Cheadle.

Don Cheadle – Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve, and Thirteen). See above. “Baaarney Rubble!”

Christian Slater – Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. To be fair this could equally have gone to Costner. Gather the merry men, and let’s go fight the Sheriff of Nodding-ham

Brad Pitt – Devil’s Own. Atrocious “oirish” which just about righted itself by the time he came to make Snatch. Just.

Keanu Reeves – Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This one was just all kinds of shit. Scarier than Gary Oldman in the title role, and so wooden that Winona Ryder got splinters. Ted Theodore Logan would be ashamed.

Champion of Champions – Sean Connery, for multiple offences.  We don’t always have an actual number one of course, but in this case we decided we should make an exception. It’s a controversial choice, because they are not technically the absolute worst accents in history. Our man wins on the sheer audacity of it all -the fact that with all of the Nationalities in question he doesn’t even attempt anything even approaching an authentic accent. Why bother, eh when you can get paid quarter of a million for doing four lines at the end of the aforementioned Robin Hood?

As a result you get – a King of England, with a Scottish accent; a 2,437 year old Egyptian/Spaniard (Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez!), with a Scottish accent; a rebellious Russian submarine commander, with a Scottish accent; and (get this) an Oscar winning role as an Irish-American cop – with a Shcottish accent. Thatsh the Connery Way. Well done Sean.

The Misty Moon (Northwood) 2 x ½ Timothy Taylor Golden Best £2.60

Another station, another Wetherspoons. Wait, have we said that already? You really can’t escape them.

Having said that, the immediate difference between The Misty Moon and our other JDW visits today was that this one didn’t have the usual Thursday night curry night going on, but had instead gone for the Thursday Night Pub Quiz option. A feat they were attempting, I might add, with the aid of an amplifier that would have been dwarfed by your average 1980s Sony Walkman.  It was making a fair amount of noise, however, managing to successfully convey the dulcet tones of the resident quiz mistress successfully around the room. The fact that she looked quite a lot like Catherine Tate was only mildly spoilt by the fact that she didn’t sound anything like Catherine Tate. Can’t have it all, I guess.

Bless her, she had to pause at one point, because it seemed that the mini-me amp had stopped working, and needed some repair – a repair that was immediately attempted by a large fellow with long hair and a monkey wrench that was bigger than the speaker he was trying to fix. I don’t think he even turned the plug off as he worked, adding an extra frisson of potential danger to the whole proceedings.

Apart from this quiztastic point of difference, it was another very ordinary pub. Although, it obviously gets much posher as you come down out of The Hills and into Northwood itself, as the best bitter in here was an almost astronomical £2.60. That’s premium as far as these pubs go, but we didn’t have time to stand around and argue prices with Ms Tate – the night was drawing on and we had three more pubs to hit before we were done. It was time to go in search of a golf club…

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