Archive for the ‘Endless British Pub Crawl’ Category
I’m escaping work now for the Thanksgiving holiday (one of very few American things I cling to).
This year, no recipe to publish but the meal is roast duck, cornbread dressing, green salad, sweet potato pie for dessert, and too much to drink but we’ll give it a go.
I am quite thankful that I am no longer an American, by the way.
“Fare thee well, gone away
There’s nothing left to say….”
— Body of an American by the Pogues
The Body — and, of course, the accent — are the only things that are still American as I am now registered to vote in England and awaiting my British passport. It has been arduous at times to get to this day and worth every greyed and shed hair and spent shilling (just look back at the posts on the Britishness exam and the application for Indefinite Leave To Remain to see what I mean). If you want to know about the weird Citizenship Ceremony (at which photography is a strictly controlled franchise so no pictures here), I’ll tell you all about it when next we meet…just remind me.
I received the paperwork inviting me to swear fealty to Her Majesty’s realm precisely 40 years, 1 month, and 21 days after I made this decision in the throes of my very first acid trip. I have a crystalline memory of that day and how it led me to this one.
It was the 4th of July 1976 (not only Independence Day but the Bicentennial!) and I was about 8 hours into the ride on some Felix the Cat blotter, watching dusk encroach over a golf course fairway at Griffin (GA) City Park with the town hospital’s lights becoming noticeable on the hill opposite; the absolute ugliness of my native land, its ghastly inhabitants, and what passes there for culture made all too apparent — too concise and too clear — over the course of the day. I concluded there-and-then that — not only did I want to be, but — I had the wherewithal to become a citizen of another country.
Since that moment, I’ve worked on this considering — and putting a bit of effort into — Canada, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Ireland as potential refuges; but, my new land is the one that made me feel the most welcome or, to be absolutely honest about it, the LEAST unwelcome. And, so it came to pass that, earlier today, I became a Brit.
No longer need the Indefinite Leave To Remain card, so off it goes to the Home Office
Afterwards, we stopped for beverages in the Three Tuns on the way to the Tube. Disappointingly, they have no jukebox — modern ones are connected to the Interwebs offering unlimited possibilities — so my playlist would have to wait until the champagne at the house. What I had in mind was the aforementioned Pogues, Billy Bragg’s “A New England” and some Dylan because, during The Ceremony, Bob’s 1966 audience banter popped into my head: the bit just after the “Judas!” heckle at the Manchester Free Trade Hall. Not the part where he drawls, “I don’t believe you…you’re a liar,” but right after that (and just before he and the Hawks cracked into “Like a Rolling Stone”) when he says to the Band:
This caught my attention, but the truck was a let down
I took Tuesday off work to go for a bit of a run/pub crawl, to eat some local cuisine, and to think about my last day as a foreigner in Britain. By the time this publishes Wednesday morning, the metamorphosis will have begun. When it is official, I’ll post a brief message here (and add a link to it for those that find this article months or years later). In the meantime, I managed to add 6 more pubs to the list as well as another jellied eel and chippy fish to that map all in a little under 7 miles jogging through the hottest September day here in the last 50 years…glorious.
Mile End Park just ahead, left out of Mile End Station
The run was typical: get lost, see unexpected shit, find a place to drink, regroup, repeat. It did sort of arrange itself into segments without any prompting from me, though.
Segment 1, Victoria and Albert:
Hopped off the tube at Mile End Station and headed to Mile End Park to sip a beverage at the Palm Tree which turned out to be closed until much later in the day (see Segments 2 and 3, as this recurred frequently). I bailed on this one and went to the nearby Victoria, asked for and got directions to an eel shop, dined on these Victorian treats in the market, then washed the fishy aftertaste out of my mouth at the Albert.
There’s water under that mat of algae and garbage, but I didn’t fancy a swim to prove it
Segment 2, Literature:
I suffered a bit of misdirection through a park then spotted a couple of promising bars but passed on those to take in the Hemingway, not for the sake of Papa but to try to get the song Hemingway’s Shotgun out of my head (get the version by Eric Taylor if you dare). However, it was closed so I ran on towards the Cat & Mutton (thinking then of the trimmings from sheep’s kidneys Leopold Bloom tosses to his cat in the opening bits of Ulysses); it was also closed…shit. However, whilst wandering aimlessly in this wilderness, I found Edgar’s (named after Edgar Allen Poe, a nice tie in to my new neighbourhood) and while downing a pint there spotted a poster for The Sun Also Rises (and so I was back to The Hemingway).
The Hemingway…you’d think THIS pub would be open early to treat hangovers but NOOOOOOOOOOOO.
More literature appeared later on the run…
…and endless coincidence.
Segment 3, The Late Opening Time Desert:
Already disappointed three times — as many times as I had been successful on this trip — I next ran into a streak of bad bar luck in which every pub was closed (and the same two horse coppers seemed to keep turning up at the next one on):
Segment 4, Film Club:
Emerging from the Closed Pub Desert, I might have called this the Segment With No Name (a little Sergio Leone reference) for the heat and curious townsfolk I encountered. But, my first open bar after the hitless drought was the Hitchcock-themed North By Northwest, then followed up with the Marquess Tavern (a bar that could have been the set of some Jennifer Anniston or Reneé Zellweger offence against cinema. The segment and the day’s run finished, after more seafood, at a pub made out of an actual old cinema (a few doors down from the Joe Meek apartment/recording studio that I ran to a year or so ago — and, I never would have known who HE was except for Telstar: The Joe Meek Story, a movie I highly recommend).
Much improved photo since the previous jog past here
We’ve been in Ruislip a week, now, and it seems a good fit so far. Largely, this is due to Jackie’s commute shrinking from 2 hours (or more) each way to 35 minutes door-to-door while mine diminished from over 1:30 most trips to just under an hour (although the walk home is a half mile farther than was the one in Swindon). Also, it is exciting to have new territory to explore and (as regular browsers of this blog might already have noted) new pubs to tick off my list.
One other bonus: there’s a poetry connection courtesy my favourite of the UK Poets Laureate…John Betjeman (whose plaque-marked locales I have chased down and whose poetry I have misquoted ever since I moved to England) actually included the new buurt in his poem Middlesex, one of the Metroland trilogy of poems:
Gaily into Ruislip Gardens
Runs the red electric train,
With a thousand Ta’s and Pardon’s
Daintily alights Elaine;
Hurries down the concrete station
With a frown of concentration,
Out into the outskirt’s edges
Where a few surviving hedges
Keep alive our lost Elysium – rural Middlesex again.
There’s more… look it up. But, better than that: read it aloud. It has approximately the same meter as “The Raven,” by Edgar Allen Poe. “Rural Middlesex again,” so close in beat to “Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.'” Splendid.
Drunken Bunny Liqueurs has a life of its own, now, as well as a poorly maintained Facebook presence.
The original “Hashlam in Society” Treatise probably only means something to you if you know something about Hash House Harriers (mostly insider humour).
Here are some of Edie’s Swindon era appearances as nurse, internet star, and gardener.
No students were harmed as a result of attending Swindon University. Which is to say, no students attended Swindon University.
“What has passed is already finished with. What I find more interesting is what is still to come.”
This is melancholy. Personally, I’ll miss Swindon even though Jackie is glad to see the back of it. Mind, we’re both excited about living in London — well, living there technically, at least: kind of like the way Little Neck, Queens is technically part of New York City — but we’re on several lines of the Underground and can be in The City in 20 minutes and my commute to Oxford is only an hour (and the service runs frequently and all night).
In the 5½ years we’ve squatted in Swindon:
• I’ve watched kids that ride the same bus as me grow up. A gaggle of them weren’t yet in 6th-form on the day of my first commute and now most of them have completed University degrees and/or started jobs or graduate school.
• I’ve run 10,659 miles and completed 3 marathons, 7 half marathons, and a variety of other events including a 3rd place finish in my age group in the Ridgeway Challenge (the National Ultra Marathon Championship race). The transport links in town meant that I could cover a lot of the region on these runs so I wore ruts in the footpaths all over an area bounded, roughly, by Salisbury to Warminster to Frome, Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Faringdon, Andover, and Marlborough.
• I’ve visited (and had pints in) 979pubs since moving there from Bicester, many of them on a regularly repeating basis. Related to the previous bullet point, 62 of those pub stops were during — or within 10 minutes, before or after — ‘races,’ listed below.
• In Swindon (borough), a shortlist of the finest of these establishments would have to include
The Beehive (#615 in this blog)
The Roaring Donkey (#672)
The Wheatsheaf (#738)
The Southbrook (#533), and
The Boundary House (#600).
There are really none you need to avoid, though…roll the dice if you’re in town and you will probably get lucky.
• And, we’ve had really good neighbours in Swindon. Except when we haven’t.
Reverting to an Americanism: it’s been real, y’all, but this Swindon thing is done for us. Or, to use another, more appropriate quote from Zatopek (and once again out of context):
“Gentlemen, today we die a little.”
Here are those race details I promised from this now past era (with the related pubs from the day):
The Swindon region and the pubs I have stopped in for a quick one (usually on the run); the picture is linked to the full Google map
For what it’s worth, today we have beaten the Statutes of Limitations on most felonies in the United States: 7 years and a day since we moved to England. Here’s the breakdown of this most recent year (noting that the annual run review already covered the calendar year 2015 so this will be a relatively brief look back at the residence year).
Speaking of residence, we were granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in June. I visited 167 new pubs (plus 10 in the new Irish category) and ran slightly more than 2515 miles (including 86 miles in one go). There were trips to Maastricht, Tennessee & Atlanta, and Ireland (where we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary). There were 22 new Fish and Chips entries to the blog (and 3 kebabs) but not a lot of experimentation in the kitchen (only 6 Recipes added).
Going into year 8 there are no goals, no major plans, and no great expectation of many new pub visits (unless we move house or I do a lot of travelling this year). Maybe I’ll try to write a little better…don’t hold your breath on that one, though.
Looking at annual recaps, past:
At 1 year, 290 pubs and impressions on British running, mostly in Cambridgeshire
2 years saw more maps (2000+ miles that year), travel, and 240 more pubs
3 years ended with 280 pubs and links about another house move
The 4th year ended with 255 more pubs, another house move, and some brilliant racing
Year 5 yielded 134 pubs, some decent travel, and yet another house move
The 6th year entry was very brief, but the anniversary kind of snuck up on me (only 95 pubs)