Ferry House, Isle of Dogs, London   Leave a comment

The Ferry House, which claims to be the oldest pub on the Isle of Dogs, is a scant 50 meters from the Lord Nelson which provided me with a pint as I reached the pub in the midst of the 2012 London Marathon.  The crowds would have blocked all view of this little side street at that time but by then I was in no condition to make notes on future pub stops.

On this run, I found the house inhabited only by one old punter, an affable barmaid, and eventually the Irish landlord.  Oh, and a host of ceramic dogs guarding access to the stairwell.



A discussion of gin broke out or, rather, a discussion of how doomed “this gin craze” is.  “Its days are few, now, I tell you,” intoned the publican.

“What’s next them?” followed up the barmaid.
“Only the Lord knows. Probably vodka, since there’s not a hair’s difference between them,” he snarked.  “Hipsters will grab on to anything.”

Glancing at the bar, she suggested a comparison of Smirnoff and Grey Goose. “Try the Goose before the Smirnoff or even the other way around and you’ll see there’s a difference.”

“It’s true,” I interrupted. “Good vodka ice-cold is a wonderful thing.”
They both looked incredulous. “Surely you’re not suggesting it straight.”
“Oh, yes. It would be a sin to mix fine spirits with anything other than other fine spirits or maybe a little water.”
“But…but, VODKA?”

I told them about Arpad, the then Hungarian master of the University of Arizona Mass Spec Facility when I worked out there. I would park in his driveway during runs in the North Tucson hills and then try to get out before he awoke because, if he spotted the car, he would greet me on my return with a “Hungarian shot” of vodka (essentially four fluid ounces, served straight from the freezer in a water glass and taken in one go).

“Why would he do that, then?”
“Tradition.  And, he thought it would be rude not to. Mind you, it made the morning drive back to my neighbourhood a little more relaxing.”
Morning? Why didn’t you refuse?”
“That would have been rude, too.”

They returned to their conversation without me and probably didn’t hear me ask, “now, what about that comparison test?”

Posted June 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Ledger Building, Canary Wharf, London   Leave a comment

I was running, so I passed four lads in suits and was at the bar in the Ledger Building well before them.  The waitress (I won’t insult bartenders by calling her one) looked past me and asked what these jackoffs wanted.  ‘S alright, she’s looking for a husband;  unfortunately for her, this lot isn’t shopping at a Wetherspoons.



A professional tender showed up and took my order.
“A lot of bankers in here,” I proposed.
“Well, yes. It’s a banking centre.”
“I’m bery sorry,” I apologized. “I have a sbeech imbediment. Bhat I bas trying to say bas there seem to be a lot of BANKers here.” I looked at the guys and did the obligatory shaking hand gesture.

“Oh. Yes. Of course. You really can’t rid yourself of them, though,” he replied.



I liked the crafts shop light fixtures and my beer (Head, from Otter) was good. Overpriced for a Wetherspoons, but probably still half priced for the neighbourhood. Dickheads.


Posted June 24, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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London A to Z Runs : Q   1 comment


Q is for the Quays, now overrun with large banking towers but this deal could be Queered by the Brexit-imposed Quarantine of international finance and the exodus of bankers to one of the European centres. It’s happening now, as this goes to e-press.





But, today was about the run.  My thoughts turned to “Quo Vadis;” not the Biblical epic from the 1950s but the Latin phrase, “where are you going?”  To a pub or two, to be sure (this wasn’t an existential question) and I headed through the depressingly overbuilt Canary Wharf, past what appears to be yet more overbuilding on the North Quay, and along the sterile looking restaurants housed in the frankly lovely old warehouses and offices of West India Quay (surely these, too, will be flattened in favour of some more Stalinist/Corbusier-ian — ahem — architecture).







After a Quick one in the Ledger Building (write-up pending) I continued south along the Thames as much as possible and. while the area still reeks of inflated (bloated) land values, some of the excess peeled away.


A view of the City from the west bank of the Isle of Dogs


Sluice gates between Millwall docks and the River Thames


Not only were there locals whose families predated the real estate explosion, but there was also a little evidence that the docks and quays were still working:



Inspired to Quaff another beer by the more comfortable environs, I crossed a park to continue south as the riverside path was blocked.



My map suggested I could get back on the Thames Path by the barge winch, but some posh settlement has built a fence and wall creating a dead-end if you don’t hold the key (or, indeed, if you don’t hold the Quay).




But, the detour took me past a pretty crafts and performing arts centre, The Space:




Eventually, I found my way to the Ferry House (write-up pending), just below the Lord Nelson (which spotted me a beer during the London Marathon).  Another half Quart (that is to say, a pint — the Quantum of beer consumption in this blog) down and I was heading north for more sightseeing.



Frank Dobson’s “Woman and Fish” greeted me in the Millwall Park:



I should be more mature, but I always giggle about Mudchute:





Just beyond the park, I stopped in the George (write-up pending), the 3rd and last pub of the day.  Meeting my Quota and thirst Quenched, I continued the run along the Oakland Quay.



I soon Questioned the logic of only 3 pubs but as I reached South Quay Station, the prefabricated and oppressive atmosphere returned and I was set straight once more.



There were some nice ships to see moored at the Millwall Cutting just off the Thames Quay:


The Millwall Cutting


And, then it was over as I reached my station at Heron Quays:



So, the run appears to be another success.  Q.E.D.


Posted June 24, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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William J Simonsick, Jr   Leave a comment

I was forwarding a job advert to a bunch of people for a postdoc position here in the lab and Bill Simonsick’s email bounced back. I did a search for an updated email and eventually stumbled across this FaceSpace Memorial Page. Awww, shit.


Some people I meet think I must be immortal for having survived far more trauma far too frequently to generally be believed; but, I could give you endless stories about how I found Bill indestructible. That makes his passing that much more unnerving … if he can die, where does that leave the rest of us?  Instead, I just have this for you:

In 1997, my PhD adviser took the research group to present their work at the ASMS Conference in Palm Springs. He left the flight bookings to me and the senior PhD student at the time and we found flights into Las Vegas the day before and the day after, rooms at Circus Circus for each of those bookend days, and a rental van for the week for less than other travel options.

As a result of these travel choices, I was standing in front of my poster on no sleep for the previous 3 days with some Chinese graduate student who misunderstood everything on the publication and babbling incoherent questions. I was on my best behaviour and patiently trying to explain that he had his head up his ass without saying it explicitly.



Across the herd of suits and ties and slightly more casual business attire I spotted a guy in flip-flops, dripping Bermuda shorts, a ragged tank top covered in the most rudimentary fashion with a Hawaiian shirt, and a couple of gigantic glasses of rum and Cokes — not highballs, but short and very wide diameter, wading pools of liquor. He spotted me at about the same time and ambled over in an idiosyncratic walk I would become very familiar with over the next 10 years or so.

He stepped in front of my inquisitor and, over his shoulder, said, “you can fuck off now. We’ve got shit to talk about.” Then, to me, he handed the drink in his right hand and then shook mine; “I’m Bill. Your boss told me you had some cool shit to see.” I was now madly in love with this man.

He reached for his extra beverage and I pivoted on my hips to protect my newly found refreshments.  “The fuck you call this? No backsies, bitch.”  I had assumed this glass was meant for me, anyway, because the other one had a little umbrella in it and, since I was “working” I needed the more professional looking vat of booze.

His grin at this was enormous. “Tell me what you got, here,” he demanded, pointing at my work (such as it was).  I started to go through the practiced presentation and he stopped me. “No. TELL me about it.” The resulting conversation swerved recklessly across a wide range of things we could do with small tweaks to the techniques we could each bring to the table.  Along the way, others tried to speak to one or the other of us and — if they met his criteria — he would include them for a while. At one point, he sent a student — who was working security at the conference and had told us we couldn’t be drinking in there — to get us refills; these appeared without charge about five minutes later.

“We should do more of this,” he suggested. “I’ll meet you in the hot tub after the Hospitality Suites close.” Over the next several years, I got most of my good ideas smoking and drinking in ASMS Convention hot tubs with our Bill.

Rest in peace, buddy.

Posted June 22, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Obits, work

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The Hendon, Hendon, London   Leave a comment


After tracking down my 2nd Edward VIII postbox (should’ve been my 3rd, but for a faulty list), I had a half hour to spare before heading home and nipped into the Hendon to put on some long trousers and sip a tall industrial cider (Strongbow).



The Hendon is a giant estate pub on a road that really outgrew itself as London spread into the Northern suburbs. But, it still has the feel of a local and fills what would be underused space with 4 pool tables. These were crowded with duffers slapping the balls haphazardly around the velvet. There was one competent user, an 18-year-old with a large rack — and if anyone would point this out to her she could use her skills and architecture to get rich of these slobs insulting billiards and abusing their cues.




After awhile, I noticed the Arabic (or maybe Israeli) pop music in the background which seemed oddly appropriate. This seems a really decent house for a Meet ‘n’ Eat. And, if the adverts in the loo are any indication, they are concerned with your health and well-being. Mind you, I’ve only ever had blood in my urine after being beaten with a pool cue but maybe other causes are more prevalent around these parts.




Vandalism seems rife here, too.



Posted June 19, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Greyhound, Hendon, London   1 comment

The run continued and I eventually found pub #3 planned for the day, the Greyhound on the north edge of Middlesex University. The street was quiet and shaded by large trees and the neighbourhood seemed almost rural. I had high expectations.




I ordered a Rosie’s Cider. “We’re out of that,” said the barmaid despite the pump clip pointing out to the world.
“How about one of these?” I asked pointing at an interesting ale pump clip. She winced.
“Do you want to try it first?” A hippy at the bar tried to discretely shake his head at her but the Rasta hat holding in his white-boy dreadlocks created a breeze.

I pointed slowly first at her, then too the pale Don Letts, then back to her. “You just cleaned the lines on that one, didn’t you?” I took the glass she offered and smelled the sharp detergent from half an arm’s length then tasted the tertiary amines mixed in with sulphides and a modicum of that which you might expect beer to taste like. “I’ll do a Fosters,” I said while pushing back the foul glass with a shudder.



Outside, groups of students and faculty gathered at tables.  A skunky whiff on the breeze appeared to be coming from the garden but smelled more like it was coming from an Amsterdam Coffeeshop. High expectations, indeed.





Posted June 19, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Catcher in the Rye, Finchley, London   1 comment


It rarely gets this warm in England but Friday afternoon was in the low 30s Celsius (upper 80s Fahrenheit) and the uphill run from the Old White Lion took more out of me than the mild gradient should have.  The Catcher in the Rye appeared to be the nearest pub near my route so it would have to do.

The bartender, a skinny and humour-free hipster, was the only living soul.  I asked him if the Dignity, my first choice, had been converted into a chicken restaurant.  “I think it has been converted into a restaurant that specialises in chicken.”  Glad I asked.

Friday was also Bloomsday, so maybe he was just in character — perhaps as the student Cyril Sargent or the ridiculous Denis Breen.  Anything is possible, and besides this pub SHOULD do Bloomsday if for no other reason than the literary theme.

Or, maybe he’s just a phony and bourgeois but thinks he’s actually Holden Caulfield.  No matter…here’s a picture of Marilyn Monroe reading (judging from where the book is open) Molly Bloom’s soliloquy.  So, at least I’ve done my part in the day’s celebrations.

Posted June 19, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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