You can get used to daily Full English Breakfasts you know, and although this Greenwich Travelodge one lacked those tasteful blue and white plates you get in Wetherspoons, or the porridge approved by the ladies of Falkirk in Doubletree, it filled a gap and set me up for a sunny Cutty Sark walkaround.
|This pretty lady evoked thoughts of a Viz character for some|
|Clutching at straws for a good Hull City omen to start the day|
But with the best will in the world, no breakfast or happy London sightseeing effort could have prepared you for the first pub of the day ........
1324 / 2298. Gate Clock, Greenwich
We've all been in hectic, disorganised, busy early morning 'Spoons situations, but I don't think in my sixteen years of going in their mixed ball bag of pubs, have I ever witnessed one so thoroughly scroatly on nearly every count. One barmaid (trying her level best it must be said, with a resigned smile of defeat) was trying to serve an army of demanding folk, on her own, and those around me all asked the same question, just where were her colleagues? When it finally got to my turn, all 4 of the handpumps I asked about were off. They weren't turned around, but at slightly weird angles! She marched me over to the other side of the bar, and after another ale fail, we found a beer that was on, well beer spluttered from the pump and I was presented with a murky disgusting Kelham Island Pale Rider - and no, it isn't supposed to look like that however bearded you are feeling today! Not one table was free, so I perched on one of those pillar bits, even this was sticky and full of crumbs. And every time the poor spotty lad (probably called Chris) brought a breakfast out, someone would shout "I've been waiting over 40 minutes now, not good enough!" A bloke opposite asked if I'd watch his table whilst he went for a coffee refill, as old blokes like to do in 'Spoons situations. Good job he left his glasses case as added security, as people curiously swarmed around thinking they struck gold. But I watched it as keenly as I could, and warded off intruders. To be honest, I wanted to tell them all to do themselves a favour and walk straight back out. Ugh!
|Watching like a hawk|
And amazing since my visit how many Londoners have agreed this is one of the worst Wetherspoons in the city! How do these places get in the GBG? Sadly, not the first time today I'd be asking myself this question.
Next, a jolly little walk through past the Maritime museum took me to an all together off centre calming back street local, not unlike the Dog & Bell location last night in Deptford.
1325 / 2299. Plume of Feathers, Greenwich
A pub to restore your faith in pubs if you were ever at a low ebb, a pub cat called Matey slept on the bar on top of a newspaper as two quite friendly barmaids with strange accents served me a pint of Harveys, which tasted like nectar in the circs, and I must admit, I'm not as much as a Harveys fan as most beer people tend to be, apart from that amazing Mild they do in that pub at Borough. Tom and his furry face (a local, not a cat) looked up and smiled from his seat adjacent to me. Ah yes, I felt cleansed. I asked the BM's about Matey, they told me he loves customers, but attacks the staff. A personality quirk you might think? Well no, turned out the customers treat him with the deference that any pub cat deserves, whereas the staff prod and poke him constantly trying to wind him up. Matey eventually skulked off to his favourite place, a small gap between bar and top of warm dishwasher, where he could get some peace! The pub was just starting to fill up with irritating members of the local community (twilds, old people, diners) so I'd timed my visit perfectly. Lovely.
It was time to head back into central Greenwich and hop aboard a train to a place I'd never visited before, yet from nowhere, suddenly had two new GBG entries, and it sucked the life out of me Dementor style, in a way quite like no other place has ever done, and I've visited Scunthorpe, Wrexham, Tilehurst AND fucking Theale.
Canary Wharf ladies and gentlemen. Today was a rollercoaster of emotion, little of it human.
I started with the pub further from the station, this was the 'Spoons, and I went the long way around, through a weird shopping centre a bit like a log cabin, out onto this sparkly shiny watery front area. This was actually a nice contrast from the looming office blocks blocking out the sun during the walk from the station. There was a statue of a bloke no one had heard of called Bob Milligan (the first London traffic warden to make it through a day without issuing a ticket, I believe), and then the pub looked a bit too 'nice' to be a 'Spoons but here we were.
1326 / 2300. Ledger Building, Canary Wharf
You're only as good as yer last 'Spoons, as they say in the trade, which obviously made me very bad until I walked in here and was pleasantly surprised to find a bright, smart, well done modern style 'Spoons. Okay, so service was so shoddy (despite the fact it was near empty) so I went for a wee first, and that area downstairs smelt like new carpet and perfume. Was I in some anti-Spoons twilight zone? There was a table outside the bogs under the stairs, and I nearly drank my pint down here, it was the best single thing today apart from Matey the cat. I finally got served and wow, how bad were the staff in here? They didn't even put my pint in reach of me, make any eye contact, and even though I'd ordered this suspiciously red 'tea' flavoured beer (horrid but my own fault) there was no 'try before you buy' question, this was about the ONLY time I'd have actually taken them up on it! I grew into it a bit though, had a taste of John Smith's Magnet about it if any of you remember that one. In one of those BRAPA moments that felt staged, I was eyeing up the old East India Docks plans on the wall by the condiments when an old guy with a parsons nose turned around and told me he used to work on them, and it felt bittersweet coming back here now! He made way too much eye contact, I thought we were gonna kiss at one point! He started talking about Tilbury Dogs, but he actually said Tilbury Docks, which made sense cos I wondered why he'd gone off on a greyhound tangent for no apparent reason.
Nearer the station, down this wooden walk way down the kind of dirty old riverside where you'd expect a passer by to attach concrete slabs to you and sink you, was my next pub, a Nicholsons, which made a change from all these recent 'Spoons and Antics I reflected on entrance, trying to stay positive ......
1327 / 2301. Henry Addington, Canary Wharf
One man was being served, it seemed to be taking a while but there were so many handpumps on, it gave me chance to survey the whole bar, by which point, two other blokes had arrived. The barmaid, despite having clocked me and smiled earlier, then asked which three of us were next, and when I opened my mouth, everyone (well her and the two blokes) acted like I was pushing in! I'd changed my mind on my ale about 10 times in the long wait to be served,and my final choice, some London brewed shite called Beer Street, was very poor. But three men on Twitter all independently said they'd come here and had good beer, which apparently meant I was mistaken. Blokes like these are no better than Holocaust deniers if you think about it from my hyperbolic point of jew. The pub was a soulless hole too, rubbish music and terrible seating, so I considered sitting outside in the sun facing the depressing building and water of death, but each table was either full of dirty plates and glasses, or was taken by fat middle aged women either on Kindles or playing Angry Birds, none of whom consuming any drink or food bought on these premises. A staff member was watching my struggle closely, but did bugger all so I returned to an indoor high metal stool. In many ways, less shit than the Gate Clock earlier, but more dishonest and exasperating, plus one of the most depressive and oppressive pub locations I've been to in BRAPA history.
|Move her on!|
|Dreadful beer, but probably just my imagination|
|Put her in the river!|
But no time to dwell, I had one more pub in the tank. This meant changing trains up at Stratford, where something slightly disturbing soon became apparent as I moved towards Hackney Wick.
West Ham had an early kick v Man Utd, and they'd only gone and bloody won! And easily. The place was crawling with claret and blue.
But far from the "oi oi oi" atmosphere, there was a stillness and sense of disbelief which I've never witnessed from the Hammers before. "Dad .... Dad ..... we wan!" shouted one twild. "Yes, yes ..... I ..... I suppose we did, yes." Jeez, they said the move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium might take the edge off them, but this was bizarre. They made Roger Protz seem like both of the Geggus brothers in their 1980 pomp.
And also strange was how many of them decided to join me in Hackney Wick for their post-match drinks, a place that looked like it had been designed by the first hipster settlers.
1328 / 2302. Crate Brewery Bar & Pizzeria, Hackney Wick
More like a cavernous 'drinking space' than a pub, first thing was first, I needed a wee. A huge queue to the (unsurprisingly) unisex bogs seemed unmanageable, but I saw some steep concrete steps with an accesible loo right at the top. Well, even Edmund Hilary would've struggled to get up here, so I considered it a good find, without finding an angry wheelchair user (ala Curb Your Enthusiasm) waiting outside to admonish me. Back downstairs, my heart sank when I saw it was about three deep at the bar, a tiny thing in the middle of the huge room. I did what is sensible in this situation, and spied a Skinhead who was popular with all, chatting with staff and friends, and latched myself onto the back of him, sure he'd get served sooner than most so I could get in. And sure enough, he was soon in the chair, though to my horror, he also asked for a box of olives to take away! But the staff were amazing considering the rush, made me realise just how abysmal certain others had been today. And though my pint came in Polycarbonate, and it was some Crate murk, it was still my second best pint today! I edged along a bench, more international students than Hammers, and although Batman came in begging for money, and a DJ started playing a 'funky' set (I was waiting for I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles) behind me, I kind of enjoyed the experience believe it or not! Would be easy to sneer at a place like this, but considering some of the shit I'd had to suffer today, best to take places like this at face value and admit they are good at what they do.
|The International Student Staring Competition enters it's fifteenth hour|
And back to York via Kings Cross for early evening. And we weren't finished London yet, I'd be back on Tuesday night for week three of Calypso Project mayhem, as we finally entered October. More on that tomorrow night!