COLINDALE – August 2017

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.

Sign

“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.IMG_6957.JPG

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.

IMG_6948From 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.IMG_6972.JPG

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.

IMG_6944.JPG

NEXT STOP: COLLIERS WOOD (arrival tbc)

 

CLAPHAM COMMON – April 2017

Four more years! Four more years!

“Happy anniversary” Greg announced, meeting me under the clock outside Clapham Common Station and presenting me with my thoughtful gift – a beautiful, golden, luscious pineapple. The scene was rife with romanticism to the point of cliché; the sun beating down, two friends exchanging fruit based gifts (fruit being the traditional fourth anniversary endowment) and old father time trudging on above our heads in the 110 year old clock tower. JMW Turner’s View on Clapham Common would have been markedly improved, in my humble opinion, had such a correspondence been included between the flora, fauna and fishermen.

We started our anniversary celebrations in the Stane Street Syndicate and welcomed our first gaggle of guests and well-wishers. ULPC regulars Jarek and Brent bestowed us with gifts. A large tube map, with dates marking all the crawls we had thus far completed, and running-number print outs respectively (the latter in observance of Greg and I having run the London Marathon the prior weekend). With our running numbers, pints, boisterous attitude and pineapple, Brent commented we looked decidedly like a pathetic and half-hearted stag do and we all felt conspicuous, from the premier, amongst the becoming boys and girls of Clapham Common. But no mind – we were certain the balmy eve would smile upon our festivities.

In the trendy No.32 The Old Town we managed, after considerable negotiation with the Lothario interior doorman who was keen to fill the balcony space he policed solely with female patrons, to squeeze onto the pleasant, park facing sun trap.

It was here the pineapple first received the attention it would garner all night.

I had fallen into easy conversation with Megan – a pleasant and pleasantly sozzled Canadian out with her husband and uniformly blonde haired and blue eyed friends. She enquired, between glugs of her G&T, to the origin of my perfect Ananas comosus. I gestured to Greg and explained our expedition and anniversary. “Hence the pineapple”, I concluded.

Megan appeared blasé at best to my anecdote. But her eyes wouldn’t wander, not even for a moment, from the shining Pina that sat as an unofficial centrepiece.

“Can I have a bite of it?” she drawled.

“Be my guest”, I answered, expecting her to playfully nibble on the rind – much to the amusement of her Arian chums, no doubt. But Megan, overcome with a sort of jungle fever one assumes, grasped the fruit with unyielding speed and intent and proceeded to tear frenzied mouthfuls from the pineapple with her teeth. Juices dribbled down her chin onto her clothes, chunks of tropical husk fell between her legs and Megan continued to gnaw until, satiated, she slammed it onto the table as if it were a newly emptied pint glass.

Her husband, an Irish man whose name escapes me, peeled away from his own conversation and peered to our end of the table.

“You alright, babe?”

“Just eating a pineapple” Megan replied – the pineapple’s flesh still clinging to her lips and cheeks. The husband, as if seeing this bizarre scene for the hundredth time, nonchalantly turned back to his mates.

We left Megan at No.32, the disfigured pineapple now back in my cradling arms, and headed onwards to the Rose & Crown where the young barman who greeted us outside swiftly dismissed our advances.

“No stag dos!”

Finding this an amusing pay-off to our earlier fears we chortled and Greg tried to put the man’s fears to rest.

“We’re not a stag do. We’re on a pub crawl. We write a monthly blog called -”

“No pub crawls!” the tone identical to his previous refusal.

“Why? We’re not here to make trouble. It’s a Friday night, we’re visiting a few pubs and want to have a beer in the sun.”

The barman sighed, “Alright, you can sit out ‘ere. Just keep it down, yeah? You’ll see why when you come inside”.

We entered to a healthy titter and hum of chitchat and laughter and found a diverse range of patrons enjoying alcoholic beverages. The young barman was right to warn us – this joyful bar, far from being the stereotypical and unassuming London pub that it clearly was, was akin to a wake.

From here we swung into The Sun and the Prince of Wales before heading back towards the common in search of further frivolity, visiting the vast halls of The Alexandra en route and, with the pineapple still in arm, we filed into the Belle Vue.

“No pineapples”, the somewhat diffident bouncer informed me.

“What am I meant to do with it?”

“Put it in your bag.”

This concealment was attempted but quickly abandoned as, having come straight from work, my rucksack was full and only the body would fit, the green leaves sprouting from behind my head. I looked to the doorman for further suggestions.

“Put it . . .” he looked around for inspiration “. . . in a plastic bag”.

The group, fools that they are, had left their plastic stashes at home.

“Can I leave it here?”

“But what if they take it?” he begged.

“That’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

Teary-eyed, we all bid what might possibly be a final farewell to our banished brethren and left him sequestered behind a faux vintage mirror. But something or someone must have been looking down on us that evening for we staggered out the bar sometime later to find the pineapple in all its glory – bearing no scars other than the ones inflicted by Megan some hours earlier.

To celebrate we threw him between us like a rugby ball on the short walk to our final pub – everyone desperate to have a go on our fruity chum. “Pineapple will join us on all future pub crawls!” it was decreed. But the excitement of our befuddled minds led to failing hands and after numerous scrapes across the pavement we did the honourable thing and put the poor, chewed and battered soul out of his misery. The most humane way to do this, we decided, was of course to throw him in the air as high as we could and enjoy the impending splatter with childish glee.

Finally, pineapple now smeared across Holwood Place, we toasted to our fallen comrade and celebrated our anniversary in The King & Co. as the staff cleared away around us.

To four more years and to pineapple – lest we forget.

NEXT STOP: CLAPHAM NORTH

CHALFONT & LATIMER – August 2016

Nestled in the corner of the idyllic Chilterns, this Zone 8 getaway is one of the least London-y tube stops on the line.cl-sign

The burgundy ribbon of the Metropolitan line starts in Aldgate – a borderland between the pecuniary towers of the city and the working men’s clubs of the East End – and terminates out in the verdant countryside of mother England. Chalfont & Latimer itself being the penultimate call before Amersham and Chesham.  Greg and I had climbed aboard a Metropolitan line train at Kings Cross an hour earlier and disembarked the quintessential subterranean London train, complete with discarded Metros and a faint urine aroma, to find ourselves in a parochial and distant land some 25 miles from central London.

Chalfont & Latimer station opened in 1915 and, although the inhabitants now traverse the smooth undulating terrain in Range Rovers rather than horse and carriage, it remains one of the few stations not to have sprung to city-life with the introduction of a tube station. Were it not for the ubiquitous London Underground logo hanging by the roadside it would be hard to determine one was connected to the city at all.imag0021

Heading out the station we started at the Craft Beer Society – possibly the greatest premier to an area we’ve so far experienced. With a flight of tasty ales, beers and ciders for the pleasingly anti-London price of five humble pounds, we sat outside the tiny establishment and enjoyed the comings and goings of Chalfont & Latimer’s commuter elite. Staggering off their trains after a hard day’s graft, all took a moment and breathed a deep lung full of country air before loosening their worker garbs, grabbing a couple of bottles from the Craft Beer Society’s healthy selection, and skipping into their suburban dreamscapes.imag0019

Indeed, knowing of the duration of our return to the modern world I stocked up with a couple of bottles to see us through when the magic hour chimed.

Although we could have happily spent the evening sampling bevvies and gazing into the car park vista outside the Craft Beer Society, Greg and I imag0023moved on to The Sugar Loaf Inn where a beer garden, selection of local ales on tap, chirpy bar staff and a 2-4-1 pizza deal kept us happy for the next 45 minutes.

We sauntered on to The White Lion and The Pomeroy Inn – an upmarket bar and restaurant at the end of a long, festooned driveway and hugging an orchard from which it takes its name. Enjoying the evening air and with the last tube calling, we started out the mile walk from The Pomeroy back to Chalfont & Latimer.

With the Rio Olympics in full swing and our carriage empty, Greg and I took to some Tube Sports of our own to fill the hour back to Kings Cross – all of which included beer in one form or another.

We left Chalfont & Latimer feeling like we had had a rejuvenating weekend away. A tube stop which leaves behind the addictive, heady and exhausting pace of the capital and reminds one that tranquillity is but an Oyster Card touch away.

tube-olympics-final

Next stop: CHALK FARM

CAMDEN TOWN – February 2016

Although under threat of corporate gentrification, Camden – famed for its music, fashion, illegal substances and markets – still has a hard beating, fun loving heart.

Camden Sign

Camden holds something of a nostalgic romance for both Greg and I. Back in 2007, when we were unaffiliated bumptious undergraduates at Kingston Uni, Camden was a regular site for our student loan funded debauchery. Waiting for Greg outside the station I remembered a time in the nearby Electric Ballroom when I accidentally chinned a Cybergoth whilst employing a dance move known as “The Windmill”.

Greg arrived and was instantly offered cannabis by a passing local. “No, sorry” he replied and we set of on our 35th crawl.Awesome 2

First The Camden Eye – a forgettable little boozer that falls short of its own promises and opens itself up for harsh critique by branding the neologism “Awesomeness” on every possible surface. From there we swung into heavy metal favourites The World’s End and The Black Heart and intermingled seamlessly with the leather and denim clad regulars. Although The World’s End is something of a tourist trap these days, what with its faux-Dickensian back room, The Black Heart remains an excellent pub. Off the main crawl and with a mighty selection of beers, tasty food and a geographic location that will make all Spaced fans swoon, it never fails to impress.

BrewDogAfter a dutiful but pleasant refuelling in Brew Dog, we hit Camden High Street and, starting with The Bucks Head, launched ourselves northward, ricocheting off the pubs that straddle the tarmac band.

Entering The Elephant’s Head we were met with the archetypal lad cry “Oi oi!” and two Neanderthalic and blathered mates shimmied their way across the tiny dance floor. Maybe seeing younger, soberer spectres of themselves in the two of us they demanded we join them which, being the polite young men that we are, we did. Half the duo tried to indulge us in conversation but the pre-speech that dribbled out of his mouth was unintelligible. The other, realising the self-imposed limitations of his booze soaked lexicon, took to only using the phrase “Oi oi!” regardless of the situation. Every scene was underscored with the predictable annotation and repetition of that unfairly maligned syllable.

Over the course of our drinks, the simple phrase started to take on further meanings. It was a type of glossolalia – a complex, esoteric announcement from the other side. When a girl spilt her drink nearby and our enlightened mate astutely commented “Oi oi!”, I could see exactly what he meant and his poetic philosophy brought a tear to my eye. That and the fact his burbling chum was stood on my foot. I pushed my hoof aggressor gently to relieve the pressure, Gregwhich he of course took as an affront. When I explained his foot was on mine, he cupped my face in his huge, clammy, stained hands and forcibly planted his beer slathered lips on mine. Greg and I drained what was left of our bottles and darted for the exit. An echoing cry of “Oi oi!” following us as we crossed the street.

Supping drinks in The Oxford Arms and The Hawley Arms, we continued along Chalk Farm Road, stopping in The Lock Tavern before being enticed into cute venue Made in Brasil Boteco by a live samba band. We squeezed our way to the front and boogied with an older lady whose Friday night was clearly filled with unprecedented amounts of Awesomeness. I locked eyes with her and we started to groove away together. We both longed (and attempted) to join in with the excellent singer but being unable to decipher or understand his Spanish lyrics were unable. That is until, inspired by our early encounter, I initiated a free-style sing-off built entirely around the phrase “Scoo-Bee-Doo”. My Señorita soon engaged and we Scoo-Bee-Doo’d with complete abandon for the rest of the set as EnterpriseGreg joyously bounced with the crowd behind us.

After bevvies in financially unviable rum shack Cottons and Americana inspired Joe’s we finished off the night with whiskeys in The Enterprise where 16 months earlier we had ended our Belsize Park crawl. We excitedly tried to explain this to the bar man but the anecdote, boiling down as it does to simply being “this is the second time we’ve been here!”, failed to evoke the triumphant response we sought.

We collapsed onto the last tube and, filled with pride that we had only been to the same pub once during our three year adventure, tried to engage with our nocturnal commuter friends – with varied results.

How joyous that in the nine years since Greg and I first explored the taverns of Camden the façades have changed, but the spirit remains.

Tube Friends

Next stop: CANADA WATER

BAYSWATER – August 2014

Bayswater provides an oddly farmyard friendly evening of cows, dogs and oysters galore.

Bayswater sign

Bayswater is a station that sits in the awkward crack between the city centre and the burbs. It isn’t quite the chain-tastic swathe of zone one pubs and, yet, doesn’t hold the charm and allure of the out the way, untouched orbital stops. It is unsure and timid, as uncomfortable in its own skin as a gawky teenager.

We started, fittingly, in The Bayswater Arms – a standard commuter pub with all the faux trimmings one would expect from such an establishment. Amongst the questionable ‘historic’ prints of ploughs, old-y world-y country folk and all those other quintessentially London tropes, slumped the suits talking to their miserable partners. Despite mine and Greg’s animated chat, this pub remained a sullen and desperate non-entity.

We forged on, undeterred by the lacking vibrancy of Bayswater and stopped for refills in The Phoenix, another bland entry, and The Commander, an upmarket oyster bar – the kind of establishment that puts a serviette down before your bottle of beer (a characteristic of London boozers that, as a Northerner, still perplexes me greatly). These were followed by The Prince Bonaparte, The Oak and an accidental stop in Taco restaurant Crazy Homies. In our desperate need for atmosphere and chit chat we foolishly took the small Mexican diner for a pub and did nothing but confuse the waiting staff by ordering two beers and then asking for the bill. A faux pas we plan tIMG_20140829_231600o avoid in future for fear of being set upon by Crazy Homies’ angry gringos.

We finally, through sheer luck, wandered into The Cow, the only pub from the entire evening that appeared to have any life to it. Unabashed boozers spilled onto the street and there was much laughing and back slapping from the west Londoners. We squeezed into the bar, finding it to be the second establishment that thinks oysters are a credible pub snack, and got chatting to a friendly middle aged man.

“Is this your local?” we enquired, our usual opening gambit for pub conversation (which now, when seen in black and white, does have a slight, and unintentional, chat-up line feel to it).

“Oh yeah, best bar around. First time I came, Kate Moss was here. She comes all the time. And another time”, he pointed down the long, narrow room towards the back of the small pub ,“Tom Cruise and David Beckham turned up, no entourage, nothing. Just sat at the back over there having a beer”. This would turn out to be the anecdote of The Cow and one that was corroborated, without prompting, from numerous other drinkers we spoke to.

“What do you boys do then?” our new chum asked.

“Greg’s a musician and I’m a writer. Sort of. What about yourself?”

And without a breath of hesitation he proudly announced, “I’m a celebrity TV chef”. Greg and I nodded, completely unable to place him from the limited number of cookery shows we indulge in. He handed us his card, Mark Broadbent, and bought us both a beer before heading off back
to his spoilbroth of mates.

BernieAs pleasant as Mark was, he would be the precursor to an ongoing and enlightening trip around The Cow‘s confident and chatty regulars. First there was Doug – an immensely personable kiwi (aren’t they all) – and then Bernie – a small dog I befriended (Bernie seemed happy, although the picture Greg took of us does have a slight Of Mice and Men feel to it).

We finally fell into conversation with Rene, Lilly and Richard – a trio of close friends flung together from far corners of the earth. We discussed cats, dancing, tattoos and Richard enthralled Greg and I with a twisting, turning story of another life once lived in South Africa. A life where he was gifted land by the respected father of his one time fiancé. It was truly something from a David Lean film. A story so engrossing and immense that Greg and I discussed it for most of the journey home and, as is the curse with the pub crawl, forgot almost every detail come sun up.

Bayswater group

Next stop: BECONTREE

 

 

BARBICAN – April 2014

Happy Birthday to us. On our first anniversary tour of Barbican we discovered doctors, jokers and, unfortunately, the premier of London’s negative stereotypes.

Barbican

A year has passed since that inauspicious night when Greg and I, fuelled by a brazen foolishness that would characterise and punctuate the coming months, shook hands and agreed to visit a new tube stop once a month for the next 23 years. To celebrate, we found ourselves in Barbican with two friends, Kate and Olivia, in tow to aid our celebration.

The first stop, Erebuni, was an odd and bland bar/restaurant complete with circular booths, a mid nineties soundtrack and a selection of unpronounceable, barely affordable bottled beers. It was here that I presented Greg with a gift to mark our first anniversary – a postcard of the Queen and Prince Philip – which I had picked up at Liverpool Street station en route. Greg managed a half smile andStripbar and steak squeezed out some platitudes but, despite my best intentions, was not as impressed as I might have hoped.

A quick two-for-one mojitos with the archetypal city boy crowd at Neo preceded stops at The Sutton Arms and Stripbar and Steak which, disappointingly, does not pertain the former in the capacity one would expect. Despite our best efforts to find some scantily clad females within, all we found was another hang out for the young and wealthy of Barbican.

After a hasty necking at Tart, a speedy ale and pork pie in the Fox and Anchor, where Greg impressed the locals with his ability to spin a full pint over his head without spilling a drop, and a lager in the Be At One we had our first casualty. Kate, dismayed by the myriad of banker-types and lack of strippers, sloped off into the night for the tube. In The Charterhouse, Olivia, similarly underwhelmed by the DJ, glitter ball and ceaseless chorus of “Yeah boi” coming from an adjacent table, decided the best way was home ways and departed. Leaving Greg and I alone. And a year older.

Undeterred, we continued onto The Smithfield Tavern where our similar shirts, by coincidence not design, attracted the attention of a group of friends.

“Are you two related?”, asked the girl, taking our matching garb to be a sign of biological fraternity.The Smithfield Tavern

“No, just friends”, I responded.

“We thought you were brothers”, interjected her male companion (bringing the score of mistaken relationship status to brothers – 3, lovers – 1).

With that we were ushered over to their table where we learnt that the entire group, five in total, were oncologists having a Friday booze-up and were also immensely charming and affable folk. A welcome change from the strutting shirts of the previous Barbican bars.

Our gangs parted ways and mid-trek, whilst Greg was refuelling on a pasta salad, we were approached by two 30-something ladies.

“What’s that smell?!”, they enquired. Greg and I shrugged at each other, stuck our noses into our armpits and shrugged at them.

“It’s your food!”

“I don’t think so”, protested Greg.

“It is!”

“I don’t think it is”, I concurred (bros before hos) and moved in to smell Greg’s repast in order to pacify the fly-by nasal commentators. As I hovered my face above the dish a hand pushed the underside, forcing the pasta into my sweet boat and a harmony of laughter from the anonymous perps and Greg, their unwitting accomplice, followed. The femme-fatales quickly scarpered and Greg was unable to hide his reeling pleasure. I wiped the tomato sauce off my nose and attempted to use my drama GCSE to feign an ambivalence to the entire scene.

White BearAfter a quick Irish dance with a stranger next to rat infested pile of rubbish, we finished off the night with a drink at trendy be-seen-here bar The Longroom and caught last orders at The White Bear before heading for the underground.

Greg departed the tube after entertaining the carriage with a bracing recital of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and, whilst checking the timetable at a bus stop, had his bag stolen. Contents including, but not limited to due to holes in Greg’s pockets, camera (hence the stock photos), phone, wallet, keys and the fucking card I spent so long picking out. A frantic search of the streets and alleyways of Earls Court ensued followed by a long, miserable trek back to Putney.

12 months. 89 pubs. One theft won’t stop us. And if you happen to be a bag thief of any kind – you’re a real shit.

cake

Next stop: BARKING

BALHAM – February 2014

The Moon Under Water represented George Orwell’s musings on the perfect boozer. Apt, then, that the first stop on our crawl through the superb Balham shares the same name as his fabled drinking hole.Balham

“1.The architecture and fittings must be uncompromisingly Victorian”. Balham’s Moon Under Water does itself a disservice by framing Orwell’s public house ideals next to the bar. From the first ruling onward, Balham’s premier Wetherspoons starts to sink. Faux wood panelling does pertain a certain, if not cheap, Dickensian air. But “uncompromisingly Victorian” is a stretch.

As Greg and I discussed where we may find a bar that could meet such standards a local, as always, stepped in to help.

The Regent and The Balham Bowls Club are where you want to go”.

“And The Bedford?” I enquired.

“Yeah, mate. It’s cracking.”

And so our route was set. One hopes that over the next two decades London’s dedicated drinkers will continue to recognise and assist fellow imbibers in need. A posthumous addition to Orwell’s list should certainly be “friendly fellow drinkers keen to show you the way to a good time”.

The Regent started us off well. A large and lively bar winding down from the recent end of a football game. And then onto Greg Pianothe Hagen and Hyde, a stylised and well kempt relic from an old Steptoe and Son episode – thoughtfully placed detritus abound and an old plonky piano for the musically versed.

A quick drink at bland cocktail bar Be At One and then into The Balham Bowls Club. The BBC, as it is affectionately known, stands out as the first venue that is utterly unique compared to all 63 bars that have proceeded it on the Ultimate London Pub Crawl. Residing in, as the name suggests, an old bowls club it is charming and characterful and worth of a night by its own rights. Gone are the pseudo local pub stylings that seem to adorn most bars, and in is an idiosyncratic, unashamed and genuine oddness that is immensely appealing.

Three quick stops at The Grove, The Clarence and The Devonshire followed, punctuated with a quick face stuffing of pizza as none of the bars fulfilled Orwell’s sixth requirement of “a snack counter where you can get liver sandwiches”. Then into the Lost and Found, swinging to the rhythms of an 80’s disco. Grooving away to Journey and Whitney Huston, Greg attracted unwanted mano-a-mano attention.

“He’s your boyfriend, I take it?”, Sean, a well preened gent, asked me (taking the mistaken relationship score to: Brothers – 2, Lovers -1).

Ian and Greg, Lost and Found

“No, just a friend.”

“Great. My mate Ian really fancies him. We should get them together.”

“Yes”, I agreed, thoughts of Greg’s long term cohabitation with his girlfriend a paled memory, “yes we should”.

Ian was keen, the taste of a lonely Valentine’s Day still tangible, and took every opportunity to sidle up to Greg and throw an arm around his waist whenever the camera was pulled out. Sean informed us of another room downstairs where the four of us could dance. Greg, for reasons beyond me, insisted we leave immediately.

Finally to The Bedford where Greg and I, fuelled by the previous nine stops, grew impatient with the lack of dance commitment from the numerous fellow groovers and attempted, in vain, to rile up a party. We found a friendly couple of girls willing to throw abandon to the wind and jive unapologetically but the majority of TheThe Bedford Bedford’s clientèle preferred a cool and calculated swagger. And thus we stumbled from The Bedford and headed for Clapham Junction to catch the night bus home. The Moon Under Water never really existed as a single entity, but Balham proved to be the first stop in just shy of a year that I would whole heartedly recommend for a grand night out.

“I want an adventure” Greg announced, “let’s walk to Putney”. And into the night we ventured. Unaware and unable to calculate the four mile stint which lay ahead.The Lost and Found

Next Stop: BANK