Angel is one of five London tube stations named after a pub. The Angel Inn was mentioned in Oliver Twist and immortalised as a property in Monopoly, but closed as a pub in 1921. Thankfully, others have sprung up since, and the station remains worthy of the origin of its name.
As we sat waiting for Andy’s work colleagues to arrive I was nervous. This was the first time we had permitted guests on a pub crawl. Not that we’re a pair of insular misanthropes – far from it – but what if they ruined the dynamics of the evening? What if they were (gulp)…boring?
Andy and I began the night with a refreshing pint of Flying Scotsman in The Nag’s Head before crossing the road to The York. Lucy and Marliese soon turned up and immediately got a round in. Not a bad start. Chat flowed easily, meandering from the social etiquette of smartphone usage to how to market fringe theatre. We glided effortlessly through conversation topics and drinking establishments, taking in the bourgeois comfort of Frederick’s and the teeming, earthy Camden Head, where elbow patches were enjoying a successful, if very localised, vogue. It was here that I first took in Marliese’s audaciously festive red-shoe green-trouser combo. Nice.
It was all going rather well. My earlier fears were but dim memories. Marliese and Lucy were charming, and I was sad to learn of their pre-planned home time of 9pm. Before long it would just be Andy and I. Again. Chewing the fat until it shriveled into a silent, bitter husk. I resolved to convince Marliese and Lucy to see the night out and was aided, in no small way, by a welcome discovery at the next watering hole.
It was my round in the trendy Ladybird Bar and I perused the drinks menu while waiting to be served. My gaze soon settled upon an elegantly named cocktail – the Porn Star Fluffer – and I noticed, with a sudden flash of evil genius, that it was offered in a giant cocktail for four. Lucy had accompanied me to the bar and agreed upon this choice with laudable enthusiasm. Minutes later we presented the titanic tipple to Andy and Marliese, who were momentarily stupefied with glee. It was settled. No one would be going home at 9pm.
We grew rather attached to the overlong straws that came with our beloved Porn Star Fluffer and covertly smuggled them into XOXO, our next bar, whereupon Andy and I invented (patent pending) an ingenious solution for hands free drinking. Simply grab your bottle, breathe in, and shove it in the gap between belt and abdomen. With the help of a torso-length straw, hands free drinking becomes a reality. A technologic leap into the future, à la Caxton’s printing press or the wheel. Also, chicks dig it.
Next came The Slug and Lettuce in which Andy inexplicably found himself surrounded by a trio of attractive young women. His expression took on new levels of untrammeled delight. Universal balance was restored outside Pix where two inebriated 50-somethings became rather attached to the new lothario. It took all of Andy’s guile and nerve to escape their terrifying embraces.
Somewhere between Pix and our final stop, The Bull, we acquired fluorescent neon headbands. Feeling suitably debonair we conversed with what seemed like the entire patronage of The Bull, clearly under the impression that the day-glo headgear had suddenly transformed us into world-class conversationalists. No one was safe. I recall telling one group a tall tale about how we were on a cultural assignment for the British Council. Perhaps our lurid halos dazzled people into submission, or maybe they just felt sorry for a couple of boozed-up 90s throwbacks. Either way, we spoke and people listened. But the most astonishing thing was that Lucy and Marliese were still with us. They had remained loyally in our quartet until the end. As guests go, I think they’ll take some beating.
We walked back to Angel station and parted ways. As if we hadn’t already had enough excitement for one night, our respective journeys home turned into adventures of Homeric proportions. In brief: one of us got bored of a slow bus ride and decided to run the eight miles home, shedding items of clothes on the way, whilst the other fell asleep on a train and woke up in Farnborough, was quoted £150 for a taxi home, made two new friends, Ally and Guy, and ended up splitting the taxi with them while sharing a hip flask in the back.
Just another night in London town.
Next stop: ARCHWAY