Four o’clock and I had to pick up Jackie at work a few blocks away at 5. What to do…what to do?
Gadzooks! A bar! Who’d a thought of that? I entered the dark confines of the Fountain and Ink to find a very modern house with a very good collection of booze (all the light was ambient and filtered through a wall of bottles).
The skull spake thusly: “go on, Señor, have a tequila. Chinga me, have two…they’re small!” Never one to argue with the dead, I went for a couple of delightful golden agaves from the shelf two above the skull in the photo, below, just to be experimental. They were both a bit harsh but worthy of a try. If you find yourself in there, try the one on the same shelf but 2nd from the right (the tequila Espolòn I got on my last — probably ever — trip to the US).
The Rose & Crown was abandoned when I arrived save for two guys and a girl who work there and who, as I pushed the door open, sprang up from a table at the rear and headed to the bar (she to tend and they to lean). There is a demolition site butt-up against the beer garden and some other construction going on but the road is passable and foot- and motor-traffic passing so I don’t know why the charming old boozer with the fantastic neo-psychedelic background music was empty late on a Thursday afternoon.
And, the beer was good and reasonably priced for central London. Very strange. Perhaps it is just the bad JuJu I came cloaked in as I headed to my ill-fated taping of Have I Got News For You. [Which, BTW, we watched some of last night and the editing is magical…I think they could take 3 hours of one of our office meetings and put together an entertaining 30 minute comedy/panel show.]
Find the bar here, if it is still in business.
I should have foreseen the course of the evening when I boarded the Jubilee Line tube train. “The Jubilee Line is now closed between Finchley Road and Waterloo. Passengers are advised to use the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo or find other transport alternatives.” The walk from the Bakerloo to the Jubilee platforms in Waterloo Station is roughly the same as from Waterloo to Southwark (my destination on the Jubilee Line).
We eat at this Italian place near Waterloo Station when attending things near Jackie’s job. Our plates arrived and Jackie’s cannelloni looked okay but it had too much cheese (“Italian food for the English palate” she later remarked). A lovely plate of risotto was placed in front of me. “This isn’t mine.”
“Yes, is yours.”
We were under the clock for the start of the show. “I’ll take it but it’s not what I ordered.” Without asking what it was that I HAD ordered she took both plates away then returned, apologetically, in a couple of minutes with my arrabbiata. Okay, I guess, but this place really shines when there is a set menu on offer.
The metaphor stalked us to the television studio and feasted on our carcasses the rest of the night. Jackie had a migraine earlier and was about 2/3 full of codeine; I developed one about an hour into taping.
We have been trying to get tickets for a taping of HIGNFY since October 2001 when we were in Amsterdam for my post-doc interview and the Amsterdam Marathon. That episode featured Rich Hall and before we returned to the States, we saw another that had our current MP and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and both times we laughed as though we had eaten hallucinogenic mushrooms a couple of hours before the airing — odd coincidence, that.
Tonight’s show was chaired by Patrick Stewart and, as always, featured team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. Richard Osman and Angela Eagle (who staged an unsuccessful coup against Jeremy Corbyn, last year) were supposed to be their respective team mates but Eagle, as is her wont, panicked in the face of overwhelming opposition of her own making and bolted from the fight. She was replaced by the game but supremely unsatisfying Camilla Long.
It took 3½ hours to do the ½ show (plus a few retakes because Stewart seemed addled and was unable to read the prompter nor even respond as though sober). Ian and Paul also seemed a bit slow but Osman was almost up to the task.
It’s fun to watch how these shows are made, though. With any luck, we’ll get in again in fewer than 15 years this time.
We watched a shitload of movies, a couple of baseball games (Go Cubs Go), an episode of Black Jesus over the Easter holidays largely because Jackie was especially ill most of the weekend. The highlight of the film fest for me had to be A Dove Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence [En Duva Satt på en Gren och Funderade på Tillvaron (2014)]. This was transformative for me the way Eraserhead (1977) and The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) were in their times. Breathtaking. Or, while I’m quoting the movie (as in the title of this post), “of course.”
I also cooked a batch of banana muffins from an old recipe that uses sesame seeds to form an edible muffin cup (I have a similar one for carrot cake muffins that uses poppy seeds the same way). I forgot the sugar whilst mixing everything up and, since they were muffins and shouldn’t get mixed to completely, I just stuffed a measure of dark sugar into the tops of the dough. Not too bad.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
50 grams softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 squished banana
1/4 cup strong coffee
Additionally, get out a bag of dark brown muscavado sugar from which you intend to extract a half cup, firmly packed. Mix the the wet stuff, then dry stuff, then dry with wet till it holds together…just. Lump this stuff into muffin pans that have been wiped with butter and dusted with sesame seeds. Remember, then that you forgot the dark brown sugar and sprinkle about a tablespoon on top of each muffin, pushing a little down into the dough with your finger. Gloat that this will actually work despite being a little less than 1/2 the sugar prescribed in the original recipe. Bake at 170 C for as long as it takes.
Bruce Langhorne died of kidney failure a couple of days ago at the age of 78. In these pages, I refer to music he was, in part, responsible for all the time (like here, and here). Also, he looks like my cousin, Chuck. Godspeed, sir.
I had Dexy’s Midnight Runners tunes stuck in my head so the collection of blues on the tannoy in the Old Red Lion was a soothing distraction. The Old in the Old Red Lion does not refer to the staff or clientele, though, and I doubt anyone besides me in there Thursday afternoon was even born before any of this music was recorded.
That said, the bar is sublime (and, again, some of these guys were probably conceived to Sublime) with a line of interesting ales on the pumps to choose from and at a lower price than most hipster joints (which I don’t think this one qualifies as — it’s just a good local that happens to be populated by children). In fact, the prices here seem better than in most bars in London save for Wetherspoons houses.
The bar to the left, as you enter from the street, is a bit quieter and seems geared toward food what with the dining sort of tables and the kitchen right there and all.
It was Quiz Night albeit hours away. They also have a Rockabilly DJ night and Folk Sessions on the calendar. It’s an easy find, too, just across from Kennington Station a couple of stops down the Northern Line from Westminster.
A little tourism followed (and, for that matter, preceded) the stop at the Canterbury Arms and I was duly impressed with the architecture of the Oval and its surroundings. I was a little surprised the nearest pub on the far side (for my approach) was the Beehive but was happy to find it an old, Tudor building. Or, rather, Tudor façade building as inside it could not have been more modern…almost like an airport lounge.
In keeping with the theme, I joined a fellow watching an Indian Premier League match in which the eventual victors Kolkata Knight Riders were still bowling against Kings XI Punjab. T20 is a grand sport and I hope County Cricket will incorporate it more regularly into its repertoire since I can’t really commit to 1-day matches (self-serving, I know).
The Murphy’s Stout was a bit cold but otherwise flawless and refreshing. Find the pub here.