Archive for the ‘London’ Tag

The Gallery, West Hampstead, London   1 comment

Pub #2175:

Meeting Jackie at West Hampstead Station on our way to Borehamwood for the HIGNFY taping, I had 20 minutes to burn and wandered down to The Gallery, a local watering hole.  Watering hole?  Does that sound like something a hipster would say?  I should have asked one while I enjoyed my stout but I didn’t want to hear anyone else speak since one of the bartenders, the two lesbians on an afternoon date, and the drunk at the bar all sported the most grating American accents I’ve ever heard…not charming, like mine.

 

 

Most of the beardsters and the other bartender were British — or spake as though they were — but ALL appeared to be Trust Fund Cockneys.  The beer is good but pricy.  The upper windows are probably the best thing about this place:

 

…becasuse they are over the door back out to the street.

Posted October 6, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Coach and Horses, Clapham, London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2170:

Sunday afternoon, the walk from Brixton Market to Clapham Common revealed the Coach & Horses, shrouded with vapers’ vapours and infested with hipsters.  Depressing, but I like beer.

 

Posted October 6, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Drayton Court Hotel, Ealing, London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2169:

We’ve been planning a trip to the Drayton Court Hotel for lunch, dinner, a drink, or maybe a gig ever since we arrived in northwest London but never really got on the same timeline to do it together.  Dubbed by me the “Ho Cheem Inn,” we wanted to soak up some of the ambiance of Uncle Ho (pivotal in our youth for his famous jungle infrastructure efforts while our friends, family, and neighbours tried to kill as many of his labourers as possible) who washed dishes here for a year or two starting in 1913 before moving up to pastry chef further in the city.

 

 

A vintage market drew us to Ealing Saturday and, aged and decrepit, we both needed a piss with the Drayton our only option.  It would have been churlish not to buy something so I got us a couple of ciders and we lounged on the back porch watching a wedding reception being set up and sucking in some secondhand cigar smoke from a derelict drinker who shouldn’t be able to afford such a nice stogie.

 

 

Obviously, we weren’t the only ones in the pub on a sort of pilgrimage.  Several Southeast Asian families and groups passed through as we drank in the atmosphere and cider.

 

Posted September 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs, Tourism

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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse — Philotas: Rebellion in Action and Edward’s Boys   Leave a comment

 

We bought tickets for Philotas: Rebellion in Action, a lecture on the political intrigue surrounding Samuel Daniel’s play and, especially, the subversive nature of the chorus and the efforts put in to be true to the source and still not be tortured and killed for offending the monarch (James I still as dangerous a ruler as Lizzie the Virgin before him).

The lecture was dry and it seemed most of the attendees were academics in theatre or literature (one fellow behind us had just accepted a post at Durham and his neighbours, in the cozy pit seating, were likewise well seated in University departments around London).

The highlights, though, were the readings from the scripts by the boys down from Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon (aka, Edward’s Boys).  We knew there would be a reading, but expected adults because we didn’t really research the production and only bought the tickets to get into the Wanamaker at least one time before our move to Birmingham.

Which brings us to the Wanamaker and why we wanted in.  It is designed to evoke the Blackfriar’s Theatre — down to the exclusive lighting by candles — from the Elizabethan era which had an entirely boy cast.  This was managed not by recruitment but by kidnapping SANCTIONED by the Queen, herself.  No shit, the Master of the Revels had license to acquire performers without their parents permission and there was literally fuck all the parents could do about it.  We just saw a documentary on this a few weeks ago (which, to square the circle, used some of Edward’s Boys in the cast).  Fantastic…boy actors playing the parts originally played by boy actors in a venue similar to that of the original play.

 

Posted September 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in art

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The Anchor, City of London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2168:

We chose not to linger at the pub where we had the horrible meal so we had time to watch the sun set on St Paul’s before the lecture/theatre at the Wanamaker.  Not far beyond the Southwark Bridge, the Anchor seemed fit for purpose and we soon were leaning against the smokers’ wall out front people watching and talking about how much we will miss the City when we move away in December.

To a passerby but only loud enough for me to hear, Jackie commented, “Oooh, Love…you don’t have the ass for leather trousers.”  I glanced up to see the atrocity she had spotted walking away with flabby cheeks a bit lower than the hips, indeed a disappointing view.  A chill from the river was settling in so we called an end to the fashion walk and took our bevvies inside.

 

 

We found a seat under a staircase.  “So, the offence against leather, just now…” I started.

“What was she thinking?” Jackie interrupted.

“Probably, and I’m just guessing here, she was thinking she looked like,” I pointed at the well-fit woman at the end of the bar in the leather skirt, “her.”

Jackie turned slightly to have a peek.  “Oh. Yeah.  Why do people lie to themselves, so?”  She gave another indiscreet glance.  We don’t have precisely the same taste, but similar enough.

 

Posted September 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Prince William Henry, Southwark, London   1 comment

 

Pub #2167:

With an early curtain at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Jackie (print shirt in the lower left of the bar photo) and I struggled to find a decent place to eat.  Knowing the water front only has chain restaurants as barely affordable options, we drifted around and finally settled on the Prince William Henry for some pizza, the featured item on the menu.

Verdict: soggy.  We both worked the pizza business before and both recognised, immediately, that the pizza oven was not hot enough.  The dough should sear to crispness immediately, insulating itself against further burning while the top bakes a few minutes longer.  If there are a lot of vegetables (such as on Jackie’s), the exuded liquids should be drained by tilting the pie about 30° while holding the disk on the peel.  Tsk.

In a rush and disgusted by the food (too much cheese and bland sauce, as well — inexcusable), we finished our bottle of wine and fucked off to the theatre…forgetting to photograph the exterior.  It looks like the Google Maps streetview, below, except it has been rebranded “the PWH,” which I can only imagine means “Pizza Will Horrify.”

 

Posted September 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Food, Pubs

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The Sun Inn, Barnes, London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2166:

As I mentioned before, it was a glorious day out Friday.  I decided to cut across a peninsula to make short work of the bike ride to Kew Gardens Station to catch the Tube back to our bleak suburb; just out of the London Wetlands park and across a quiet neighbourhood into Barnes-proper, I was dazzled by the Sun and, ten miles into the bike-tuning ride, decided to take a wee break for refreshment.

 

 

Quite lovely, here, with a large selection of drink.  Quiet, though, and I drank largely alone save for the last drops when a couple of other middle-aged fellows joined me.  I asked if the best way to the Tube was along the river then left at the Archives but one of them reminded me of the Piccadilly Line strike by RMT workers and suggested Hammersmith, instead (Hammersmith & City to Wood Lane and change to the Circle Line at the White City Station).  It sounded sensible and, since it got me home with an hour to spare for getting pretty before heading back out to the theatre, it appeared to be.

 

 

Posted September 30, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Angel, Rotherhithe, London   Leave a comment

 

Pub #2165:

“What are you doing with your free day?” Jackie asked.  When I told her it was a walk on the foreshore near Bermondsey, she piped in, “you should stop in the Angel.  Pepys used to ruck up there on his walks toward Greenwich.”  Indeed, he did, but not in the present building which, regardless, is a wonderful Sam Smith pub.  I entered to find the bar empty save for one guy at the corner.  Ducking to get through the 4 foot high doorways that split the bar into 3 distinct sections I found myself isolated but could hear voices through a door marked “Gents” but is actually an alternate path to the back room NEXT to the Gents.  I stooped again and returned to my start just as the landlady emerged.

 

 

 

Out back with my stout, I marveled at the grand view of my city.  Pepys’ city, as well, although the only bits he might recognise are the Tower Bridge and St Paul’s (just right of the the north tower of the Tower Bridge).  I refer you to his entry of 14th September 1665 in which the pub gets a mention for being closed with someone dying of plague nearby; no mention of the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie, the Gherkin, or the BT Tower.

 

 

Posted September 19, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Ship, Rotherhithe, London   Leave a comment

Pub #2164:

The day’s mudlarking was a bust so I hiked across the peninsula toward Bermondsey Station.  Down a side street, I spotted the Ship and decided to take one last riverside walk after a beer.

 

I was mugged by a squirrel in the garden but soon left on my own with a broken gnome.

 

The urinals are magnificent:

 

 

The bar is really spectacular but I thought it would be rude to photograph all the people around it.

 

 

Posted September 18, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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The Wah-Wahs and Mudlarking   2 comments

 

 

I went mudlarking Tuesday on the polyp-like Rotherhithe peninsula (I don’t know what it is really called) and the Wah-Wahs weighed heavy on my mind.  Here’s a wee (or, ‘Wah’) story to explain, somewhat, what I’m on about and the lasting impact of the phenomenon (right up to this very day).

I blacked out as the Wah-Wahs enveloped me and I regained consciousness miles away in the driver’s seat of my 1974 Monte Carlo which I remembered as needing some new rod bearings.  The skies were the colour of Prince’s duster in the Purple Rain video, the red clay in the logging road on which I was parked was vibrant.  The tick-tick-tick of the billy club on the window was ever more insistent and I heard a stern voice demanding, “Open the door, sir.  Sir?  Right NOW, open…the…DOOR!”  I looked at my hand, still gripping the large bin liner still relatively full of R22 refrigerant (chloro-difluoromethane, HCF2Cl) the bag pushing gently on my chest and the steering wheel opposite.  I looked over and just as I made eye contact with the State Trooper very close to shattering my windscreen, he shattered into a mosaic of a million pieces and dissolved away.

 

 

As the shards rearranged themselves, I was actually not at all miles away in my car but still sitting on the couch in the rental house at least some of us were paying rent on.  The bag, indeed, was still in my lap but there were several panicked looking faces circled around me with Mark (the manager of the Turtles record store in town and one of the actual housemates) gripping my shirt with both fists and shaking me so violently that the sputum I was emitting was in our hair, on the window sill (I don’t remember there being glass in the window), and on the floor.  I wiped my face with my sleeve and said, slowly, “wwwwwwwwwwwwowwwwwwww!”  Two of the meat suits animating those previously panicked faces, upon seeing my sudden recovery, each grabbed for the bag, and Pat M came away with it.  In one continuous move held the open end over most of his face, squeezed the bladder-like portion, said something in a monstrously low voice, slipped on some of my sputum, landed on his back on the coffee table, and commenced to violently convulse long after we grabbed for our beers and the table collapsed.

Still stunned, I asked if that’s what happened with me.  “No, dude, you just ceased.”  Now about 40 seconds into his seizure, Pat emerged as suddenly as it had taken hold, and asked how long he’d been gone.  Such is the nature of Freon huffing.

 

 

I tried several entrances to the foreshore but only managed short segments of treasure hunting before the waters closed off access and I would be forced to go back up the wall and find my next entrance.  I wasn’t heavily into the treasure hunting aspects of it, though, happy to merely walk the secluded beaches and debris fields slowly emerging as the tide receded.  At the ferry to the Isle of Dogs I was cut off again but was able to wade around (above) the submerged bit without swamping my Wellies.

We got started doing Freon because, VC, another of our associates had driven me to Rose’s Department Store in his cripple-van (another episode of excess, a year or so earlier, found him crumpled in a car wreck with a broken neck).  I needed some car parts and while I was digging through the shelves he rolled up with a couple of cans of R12 freon (dichlorodifluoromethane, CF2Cl2) and a massive grin asking, “do you know how to use these?” in his distinctively nasal voice.  I knew he meant huffing it — we’d both mentioned that we did this as younger kids while our dads were refilling the car AC compressors — but I didn’t have a valve nor the money to buy one (and, wouldn’t we need a balloon so it would warm up a bit out of the can?  answer: no, just don’t get the liquid form on you).  He swung his begloved hand out of the bag draped over his wheelchair seat displaying the ice pick he had already shoplifted adding, “We’ll use this!”

[Side note: I once saw our VC get hustled out of another shop for nicking shit and he got away with it by screaming down the house: “you’re only doing this to me because I’m a cripple!”].

 

Cans of R12 similar to those we used

 

Sitting near the Putt-Putt course at the far end of the desolate car park, he balanced one of the cans upright in his lap, held the ice pick over its top with his left hand, and smacked it hard with the padded glove palm of his right.  The ice pick flew free but didn’t cause any damage; he stopped the liquid/gas flow out of the can with his thumb, held these a few inches from his mouth, then released it a bit to take in a huge lungful.  “Oh, yeah, this is GREAT!” he said, loudly and about 4 octaves lower than his normal voice (Freon is a lot heavier than air).  Then, he fell out onto the parking surface and I ran around to collect the can, now spewing all over the place…waste not, want not.  We finished that first can sitting on the pavement leaning against the front tire of the van.

 

 

A friend was in town from the States.  I say, “friend,” but we really haven’t seen each other in decades.  She and her husband begged off the foreshore walk despite an offer of a joint put in as a sweetener (they’re from California where weed is legal, so it wasn’t really much to offer).  Waste not, want not as the saying goes.

We started buying (and stealing) cases of this stuff as, over the next couple of weeks, more and more members of our circle of trippers began to participate (most of us with a case of localised frostbite to show for it).  One day, the little cannisters disappeard as a large, green tank freshly acquired from the roof unit above the multiplex cinema replaced it.  This was the R22 from the first paragraph and it seemed to have a much more intense mode of action.  R12 would have a few seconds onset where a cyclic, pounding/wind rush noise would engulf the user (these are the Wah-Wahs) ahead of 20-30 seconds of geometric visuals and perhaps a little glimpse at death from the user’s perspective.  Within 45-60 seconds, it is as if nothing had ever happened and you are ready for more.  A can split between a couple of guys will do about 10 times apiece; split 6 ways, it also did about 10 shots apiece due to less spillage.

The R22 tank was supercharged in that, while only lasting the same time to maybe 30 seconds longer, it was much less predictable and, often, much less fun because the trips lasted so much longer inside than anyone observing could possibly realise and mined personal inventories for their deepest and darkest insecurities.  R22 was the shit, and outrageously dangerous shit at that.  I still am baffled that no one died of it, directly, during that summer.  At one point, we were filling a bin bag with it and doing it out in my folks’ pond in about 8 meters of water.

 

The debris fields along the Thames are puzzling.  The walk along the Isle of Dogs a few months ago had one stretch that was mostly gravestone fragments and another that had an unusually high number of tampon applicators.  These U-shaped chunks of metal roughly 4 inches by 6 inches are strewn for 200 meters along this bank in plain site of the Tampon-Epitaph Beach.  What are they?  My guess was either some sort of large staple or broken links of chains (the more poetic of the two options).

Which brings me to the memories dredged up on this trip to the foreshore.

I had the keys to a house in Griffin Georgia in sort of a caretaker capacity for retirees to the Gulf Coast near Tampa in — I’m reasonably sure it was — 1984.  My duties were to keep an eye on it so that the sort of parties I was having there would not occur there in their absence and, in exchange, I could use the lake and premises in moderation.

There were about a dozen of us in and around the place, all tripping on some very good blotter but kicking it into overdrive with occasional blasts of the industrial Freon. When the owners walked in, I was sitting at the piano with CLW who was absolutely (and tunelessly) slapping the keys with both hands while banging out timpani on the front of the piano with the foot that he somehow got stuck in an umbrella stand an hour or so earlier.  There were several people having a tug-of-war with VC in his wheelchair in water deep enough to cover the wheels but not quite up to his chest.  RMA, who had been sitting with me and the erstwhile pianist, was just pulling her head out of a 6-inch-wide and inch deep dent she had just put in the plaster a few inches above the floor (R22 was involved).

That young woman with the massive bruise on her forehead is now quite middle-aged and visiting London (but, notably, NOT the waterside).  I was going to meet up with her and hers at a pub after the mudlarking, today.  But, I like this memory the way it is so I just picked up my treasure hunting bits and went to a different pub to send some bullshit excuse via email as our reunion meeting time loomed:

 

 

It’s not at all a great memory, though.  Of the people at the lake house that day, CLW became an ambulance chasing lawyer; I believe DH is now a drama professor; Pat’s a photographer. There were musicians, TMcB now part of the local canon in Athens Georgia, RMA a singer-songwriter (when it strikes her fancy, and despite the head injury described).  Our VC (musician) eventually committed suicide with prescription meds and another musician, Eric T, blew his head off with the handgun he suggested he and VC should use to shoot me on stage, y’know, for publicity (his brother, Kent, who was also there, died of an accidental drug overdose sometime in the early 1990’s). Yet another guy, Steve B, beat all of them for elan by killing himself with a nail gun squeezed to his temple.  There were others, but the statistically relevant sample of 10 shows 2 academics, 1 scumbag lawyer, 6 artists/musicians.  There were among those listed 3 eventual suicides plus 1 “death by misadventure” (that I am aware of).

 

 

 

There’s almost always something too big or heavy to carry home.  This bar is about 4 feet long and would make a great fireplace poker but I decided to leave it be.

I spent years before, during, and after these events honing a skill that has stood me well.  When someone calls out my name on the street or otherwise in public, I don’t react, flinch, give any acknowledgement that I am who they think I am.  I have actually been cornered by people who, it turned out after convincing them they have my doppelgänger and not me, were folks I actually was glad to see and I had to chase them down to explain this.

The Wah-Wah memories didn’t inspire confidence in the original plans for today.  34 years is just not long enough, yet.

 

 

You damn, dirty apes!  God damn you all to Hell!”

Wah-WAH-wah-wah-WAH-WAH-WAH-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-wah-WAH-WAH-WAH-wah-wah-wah….