Archive for the ‘London Irish Bars’ Tag
Walking back to my bus stop from the Dodo I decided to pop into Lavin’s because it looked like a real bar. It WAS a real bar, complete with a raging drunk dancing (well, let’s call it that, anyway) by sort of squatting repeatedly out of synch with the music (some surprisingly good choices considering they came from a digital jukebox so that any variety of aural horrors COULD have been chosen). As Green Onions was winding down he did the sweeping-arm point to the crowd (there were three of us besides the bartender), and a buddy of his emerged from the back hallway with bog paper stuffed in his ears.
About halfway through my beer and a couple of more songs into his performance, he went off toward the loo. On his return, he stopped to have a quiet chat.
“I LOVE LIVING IN LONDON!” he shouted.
I frowned and tucked a finger behind my ear. “Sorry, what was that?”
“IFUCKINGLOVELIVININLONDON, MATE!” He shoved a hand my way and I wondered what pestilence sheltered itself in the rough crags of this hale fellow’s meathooks especially since I was certain he wasn’t even the rudimentary-wash-after-pissing sort. I needn’t have worried, though, as his hands were as smooth and soft as a baby’s bottom (something that creeps me out in an adult of either sex, but this guy looked like a brickie and should have had palms like armor).
I tried to hide my disgust at his work-shy mitts and just smiled and nodded back. “Yeah, London rules.”
“NO. YOU DON’T UNNERSTAND! I GOT…” he looked around an imaginary sphere encapsulating him then mimed pushing his sleeves up and pointing at his back with his thumb; “…TATTOOS OF LONDON ALL OVER. I CANNY SHOW YOU HERE,” he said in a grand display of restraint, then burped and added, “but out back I can.”
“That’s alright, just describe ’em. I’ve seen a lot of ink; I can probably make it out.”
With that, his restraint evaporated and he slid one sleeve up to show some very old Chelsea FC design. I politely nodded and figured, ‘in for a penny,’ and did a little twirl of my finger and pointed over his shoulder. He started pulling his jumper over his head exposing far too much of his buttocks exposed above his belt line; above it, a crudely etched St George flag with script stating, “English by Birth, London by the Grace of God.”
He then pirouetted, smiling, and flipped me a Nazi salute before falling back to the bar stool nearest his beer. I don’t know WHAT that was all about but I suspect — no, hope — it was some commentary on the state of US politics now.
At the end of the bar, another guy had entered and drawn Mr Soft Hands’ attention. It was the guy from the Dodo that looks like Trigger from Only Fools and Horses. I drank up and left out past the nearby cemetery (which really looks worthy of a return trip).
I think it is always like that in there. You should go. Here’s a map.
Wealdstone reminds me of industrial towns in the US rust belt, built near — and for — a large factory (Kodak) that is now dormant and doomed to become a housing development. Meanwhile, the town struggles along with a variety of immigrant populations maintaining a psychic distance while sharing the streets, all of this informed by roughly equal amounts of respect and disdain for one another. That’s the impression I got on the Indian, Pakistani, Polish, and Romanian filled street on my way to Daly’s.
“The door opens and what have we here?” one old fellow at the bar theatrically intoned as I came in a little more than 6 miles into a run through heavy, freezing rain. Maybe they were expecting someone else; as I pulled off the drenched hat and gloves and made my way to the bar, everyone turned away and went back to doing what ever they were doing before I turned their heads.
It is an Irish place, so I guess a pasty white guy like me — especially one with a native-English-speakers’ accent that isn’t English — is always a welcome addition, or at least a tolerated one. The barmaid slipped into Irish which would have made me a bit paranoid except that it might well be the lingua Franca in here. I really should learn at least the niceties in Irish, so frequently do I find Irish beer shacks in this part of London.
The pour seemed to be about 2/3 lager (the usual choices) and the rest Guinness. I had a little over 5 miles to go to get home and the chill was starting to settle in so after a piss break (the back hall had three more conspiratorial sounding Celtic speakers huddling about), I set back off on the road.
Looking for my stout or porter of the day, Friday, I spotted the Shepherd and Flock and decided to give it a go. Wonderful local, if I do say so meself. The booths are like little snugs but open to the crowd at the bar who are as much an attraction as the gorgeous woodwork and the friendly bar keeper.
It isn’t an ale bar, but it is otherwise perfect. I could go on about the American girl and the Brit from up north who, like me, just chose this place at random but I’m still days behind on these write-ups and I don’t remember a lot of the specifics (except that, at one point during her at least 2nd Stella, she proclaimed this her favourite pub).
So there I was, no shit, in a decidedly rough part of town (if reputation and appearance were any indication); so, before snapping a photo of the Lord High Admiral I asked the couple chatting if they minded. “Oh, no, I can’t be in this,” said the freaked out black woman as she scurried off. “I couldn’t give a fuck,” slurred the old guy [I think that’s what he grumbled, anyway].
I entered the pub behind him and he stopped at every punter along the way pointing at me and saying variations on the theme, “this one here asks if he can take my photo, then..HE DOES! God help us.” Stuck behind him, I pointed out that it was just a courtesy as I had no idea if he was or wasn’t some sort of fugitive or what. One fellow grinned, nodded and raised his glass toward me but I don’t know if he actually caught even a word of it through my accent. Eventually, my model flopped on a couch thus clearing a path for me to get to the bar.
I got a Fosters and watched an Indian woman and a tall, skinny old white dude (seriously white, like on some sort of cancer drug translucent white) shoot billiards just bad enough to tell me they were much better than that. When, halfway through the rack, I ceased to show interest, she ran her last 6 balls and pocketed the black one in a little less than 30 seconds. Too good for me (especially in a place like this).
Friendly house, though. I’ll probably drop in again during a stop at the market out front.
The market on Church Street was breaking up as I arrived with a few people still trying to buy stuff while the traders were trying to dismantle their displays. I balanced the phone on a bin for the external photo then followed a guy into the packed Trader’s Inn. There was a tempting wall of whisky but I had an advent stout or porter to drink for the day and, with four pub stops planned, figured I should knock this one out here; “Guinness, please,” although the Advent beer for the day eventually came at the Green Man.
While the stout settled, I got roped into a conversation on the merits (or lack thereof) of ice. This spell was broken when an Irish accented bar lady slid my pint between us and said, “Good tings come to dose who wait.” She was right, but then my barmate went back to his table and didn’t invite me along.
This is really my kind of place: local to a fault — I was probably the only person in there (aside from the girls tending bar) who had been in the neighbourhood less than 50 years. This is definitely a top contender for where we’ll ring in the New Year.
The Misty Moon is one of the friendlier pubs I’ve found out here, since moving inside the M25. It used to be a Wetherspoons and, according to the fellow I was sitting with, even ‘Spoons couldn’t make a go of it in competition with the builders’ pub across the way; this pub reopened as a proper free house at about the time the competition closed down and the locals gratefully pack the place all day and into the night.
I had a feeling that Northwood was a fairly middle-class neighbourhood but I got a grand working people’s vibe in the pub. Pro-Brexit for a lot of the wrong reasons, everyone seemed happy to hear out this former foreigner on how proud they should be at taking the first brave step toward killing the beast that is the EU. Well worth a longer visit, this pub is.
The sign outside the Broadwalk lists it as a ‘Sport and Music Bar,’ but the sport on tonight was a UEFA youth match (Tottenham 2 – 1 Leverkusen) and the music was some putrid pop video programme featuring Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. I looked around and the customers all looked like men and, additionally, men with a bit of a hard past…y’know, you expect them to be listening to Judas Priest or Metallica and watching mixed martial arts or boxing. The world is turned upside down.