In terms of London boroughs, Colindale is remarkably youthful. Don’t take this to mean it is an on-trend trailblazer. If anything, this youngling has been left behind.
“Here a little early and there’s already a drunk terrorising commuters outside the station.” Reading Greg’s message I was of course hoping he was referring to himself in the third person. How pleasing it would be to step off the train and discover Greg turning his reddened eyes to each innocent passer-by and giving them a piece of his sullied mind. Unfortunately this fantasy would remain a rendering of my imagination and, instead of a drink-fuelled Greg windmill-ing wildly at TFL staff, he was himself caught in the middle of a tirade from the drunkard.
“Well, really nice meeting you” Greg politely and sincerely chirped at the drunk as I approached and we headed out into Colindale, forever unsure what is was the man had disliked about Greg.
Greg warned me that the night would be one of lengthy journeys between bars and our first stop, The Beaufort, was no exception. But with a sizeable outdoor seating area and the summer rays beaming down, it was a pleasant enough place to enjoy a crisp post-work pint. He also warned me that we would be reacquainting ourselves with pubs from Burnt Oak which we crawled round in December 2015.
Heading back past the station we found our way to the Chandos Arms, the same bar in which we had toasted to the little baby Jesus at last orders some 20 months previous.
“There’s space over here” a familiar voice chimed and there, sat around a small table, were a cluster of ULPC friends and regulars, secretly invited by Greg to celebrate our final crawl before a hiatus. Spirits suitably lifted, we sat down to enjoy some stand-up comedy in the Chandos Arms.
I often find people who use the phrase “if you could even call it comedy” in response to low laughs a little trite and wearisome. But, alas, now I must give myself the same label as this was comedy only by title.
After the usual rounds of what’s your name and what do you do, one of the jokes that was offered (I will condense it here for your own sanity) was purely this: “have you ever seen those people who, when the Oyster Card reader at the underground station doesn’t work, just stare at it?”
I almost fear by recounting it I have given it more credit than it deserves. All the other acts were of a similarly mind-numbing standard. The funniest quip was authored by a local who, during the interval, warned me that the AK-47 pizza, named so due to the amount of chillies generously applied, was only worth ordering “if you don’t have any plans tomorrow”. The fact this pleasantly crude allusion from another barfly garnered more chuckles from me than the four comedians on stage will, I’m sure, give you some insight into the banality of their jokes.
From here we meandered to The Shanakee. We had, as with Chandos Arms, visited this pub previously but had forgotten it still resided in a pre-digital age and cash or the trading of labour were the only legitimate forms of payment. Due to its generational inertia there was also an audible gasp when Greg’s fiancé, Helen, asked for a white wine.
From here we drank in the unpopulated McGowans Irish Bar where we had sung Fairytale of New York at karaoke nearly two years previous, and finally, and pleasingly, we found our way to another The Moon Underwater – named after George Orwell’s vision of a perfect pub.
It was, of course, ostensibly another Wetherspoons and held all the charm and interest of other establishments under the goliath’s management. But, with the knowledge this would be the last Ultimate London Pub Crawl for some months, I offer here an 11th, and admittedly saccharine, rule to Orwell’s essay:
The pub must be populated by a diverse slice of society and, if possible, you must be surrounded by friends who can make you laugh to tears.
Over four years and 53 pub crawls (without missing a single month, I hasten to add) London has proved, again and again, that it is its joyous, welcoming, bizarre and diverse populous that make it what it is – one of the greatest cities on earth.
I’m hope when ULPC returns the same will be true – I’m sure it will.
NEXT STOP: COLLIERS WOOD (arrival tbc)