Archive for the ‘Hayes’ Tag
The Great Western is a large house made more intimate by fitting two full size pool tables into it. Good local crowd really making good use of the billiards rooms and the quieter lounge area on the opposite side of the bar but the real attraction seems to be the kitchen which was doing a hectic takeaway service early Monday night. Probably better to come with (or meet up with) someone you know, though…non-threatening but lonely.
I was really hoping the Botwell Inn was named for the lead character in Weeds but that turned out to be Nancy Botwin. Instead, Botwell is the archaic name for the village centre that is now called Hayes…how disappointing. The pub, itself, is perfectly adequate and typical ‘Spoons fare: a furniture store for 7 decades then repurposed as a cavernous bar.
A couple of old guys purchased beer ahead of me then a third one of their buddies came in and their conversation went like this:
“Fucking berries fucking all fucking over the fucking trees this fucking time of fucking year.”
It was like listening to teenagers on the bus, trying to shock the other riders.
The sign for the Grapes is gone, but it is still the Beefeater. My auto-fill on the Google search engine kept trying to give me The Grapes of Wrath; Google is spooky sometimes.
This is what I expected to find, although the interior and clientele have probably been the same for decades
They have real ale (London Pride) but they really don’t know what they are doing with it. I sat near three tables of lads out together for steak dinner but I think during brain development they were deprived rich sources of protein. And, what do you expect to find in a dimwit pub other than a dimwit paper with a dimwit cover story:
Tom Joad would have had a speech:
“Wherever there’s a poorly kept ale pumped sloppily through dirty cellar lines, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a nipple shot in a red top tabloid newspaper, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell with their mouths full of potatoes. And when the people are eatin’ the stuff brought out in portions larger than needed to sustain their already-too-large frames, Ma, I’ll be there, too.”
Directly across from the Angel sits the Wishing Well, another idiosyncratic — and surprisingly good, for the neighbourhood — bar, and yet another of the Irish bars in London. Similarly surprising, they had TWO real ales on and my choice, Hobgoblin, was damn near as perfect a pint as I have ever had (and I have had a couple or more in the past). Granted, Hobgoblin is pretty bomb proof but some cellar masters still fuck it up; here, it was a pure delight.
I would have stayed for a second one since I didn’t really have any plans to turn the evening run into a pub crawl; that is, until I got challenged by Michelle, the proprietor, whilst taking a photo of the spectacular windows and ceiling. She seemed satisfied with my one word explanation, “tourist,” but the spell had been broken and I no longer felt welcome.
So: a good pint awaits you but leave your interest in the architecture at home.
People who don’t live in Hayes but know it will smirk when I say that I was standing in one of the shittier sections of Hayes (“or, as the world knows it: Hayes”), checking and rechecking my map. The pub I came for should have been right there where Bootlaces was, but the only vaguely pub-like signage in sight was next to some hoarding hiding a demolition site. I got a McEwen’s lager and escaped the crowded, stuffy bar for the smoking garden at the back where the grating and far-too-loud pop music could not be heard.
There was an old, black man staring blankly off into the void. As he lit a cigarette off the one he was just finishing, I asked, “did this pub used to be called something else?”
Startled, he looked at me then regained his composure. “Yes. Yes.” I rolled my hands in the universal, ‘go on’ gesture and he said, “It used to be the George Orwell.” Satisfied that I had found the Animal Farm entry for my A to Z run and that, despite getting screwed by the name change, I could claim it for the Arizona motif on the wall I left the fellow in peace — for a while.
Nearly finished with my drink, I disturbed him again. “Has this always been an Irish pub?”
He considered the question for a moment then turned toward me slowly. “No. Not particularly,” he said already making the slow turn back to watch whatever it was he was focused on a thousand miles away.
Of the few pubs on this strip of road I still had not visited by Friday evening, The Angel was the only one that easily fit into the theme of the night (London A-to-Z Runs … this time starting with A). Without prejudging the remainders, I found this was a fortuitous turn of events.
I entered the small, packed Public Bar and was immediately surprised to see three real ales on the pumps but no one there to fill a glass for me. Unable to get close enough to the bar to lean over to try to flag down a bartender (and busting for a piss), I wandered through a nearby door to find a hive of activity in an adjacent function room (as well as the gent’s loo).
Back out to the bar, I thought I might have better luck in the lounge where the bar was no bigger but there were only three guys hanging out; I pulled up a stool and listened to the last portion of a joke, told badly, about a parrot in the, um, harvest room of a sperm bank. My HSB arrived just as the fellows started laughing so I missed the punch line whilst doing a bit of business (and, I think it is fair to say, doing a bit of business was the main premise of the joke).
Somehow I got caught up in a conversation about rogue landlords and gamely took up the ‘pro’ position (hell, the walls are all 8 feet high, why not line them with triple bunk beds?). Their contempt for the example that started the conversation — a guy whose rental properties were shut down for overcrowding — didn’t stem from the squalid conditions so much as from the fact that said conditions resulted in these people all being put on the street. Odd to have to find a contrary position in an already contrary situation.
A hand appeared heavily on my shoulder, steadying a drunk that had emerged from the other bar. “DAVE!” he yelled then fell off me. Helping him up, I offered, “Dave’s not here, man,” in my best — which is to say, horrible — Tommy Chong voice. Squidging his face up a bit and cocking his head at me, he grasped the bar and called across again. Dave was over there after all; “what’s the name of that band?” he continued and before Dave could answer, the old guys with me were yelling back, “Rolling Stones,” “The Sex Pistols,” “Dire Straits.” Turns out the answer he was looking for was “Pink Floyd,” which made me wince as he went to the juke box on the wall…no doubt it would be “Money” which should only be played in the full album, or “Another Brick in the Wall” which is just so overplayed as to be annoying (unless, again, as part of the full album).
It was “Pow R. Toc H.” from “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” God bless this bar and all who sail in her.
Doing these in alphabetical order and not doubling up, today’s run could easily have been an ‘H‘ seeing as it started in Hillingdon and finished in Hounslow with two stops in Hayes and one in Harlington. But, it was meant to be the ‘A‘ run and the ‘A‘ it was. Not without some effort, though (full details of the stops will be in their respective write-ups).
The first stop was fairly straightforward, the Angel pub in Hayes (one of the best locals I have been in this year). My next stop was supposed to be the George Orwell (y’know: Animal Farm), but it is now called Bootlaces; fortunately, the garden had salamanders on the wall so I went for Arizona.
With Animals still available, I trudged on toward the Red Lion in Harlington (shuttered) but soon found the functional Fullers pub, the White Hart. The Airport pubs at Heathrow have all been done long ago so I went with Airborne via the Three Magpies in Hounslow. [Coincidentally, my second ever Acid trip was on two magpies: some Heckle and Jeckle blotter.] This stop could also have ticked off Air Force (RAF Lakenheath where the USAF family I spoke with are stationed).
Now, an impression of the run. Oddly familiar, the bit from Hayes reminds me of the rough area around Stewart Avenue in Atlanta (the surface street leading to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport) although I didn’t see open drug dealing or prostitution. As you continue toward the two airports, both routes then enter much more gentrified areas (College Park in Atlanta and Harlington here), followed by the bleak, utilitarian industrial hell-scape that surrounds most airports that do a lot of air freight.
I also found it especially odd that I neither heard nor saw any flights taking off or landing on the run save for the last half mile once I reached Bath Road. That started to freak me out, a little, since I had not heard any news in the preceding several hours and the LAST time something like this happened the world was turned upside down (fortunately, this time it was just my imagination).