Monopoly Pub Crawl - London 2001

Last Updated on February 29, 2008 by Pete Bennett (monopoly@pajb.com)

The idea is to consume an alcoholic drink in a pub in each London street/area that features on the Monopoly board over the course a single drinking day. This is the story of that day...

Coming Soon: Monopoly Pub Crawl - London 2008 (and this time I really mean it - invites went out to the boys for the end of July and I put together the spiffy Google map of London Monopoly sites and pubs).

I'd still love to hear on the above email address from anyone who finds the site useful! If you tried to email me before and got no reply, please try again, I've just realised that alias has been going nowhere for a while (d'oh!).


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On 21st December 2001 I officially entered the world of the middle-aged and began my 4th decade on the planet.

Back in the Summer it seemed like a good idea to leave my twenties with "one last" (in fact, we proceeded to do the Circle Line pub crawl for Ox's 30th this year, but that's another story ...) act of drunken bravado and also a sequel to the famous stag weekend. A couple of years ago I spotted an article in a Time Out my brother had in his old Clapham flat that spoke of "the monopoly pub crawl", a feat that involves consuming a drink in a pub in each property on the Monopoly board.

So, the usual suspects were informed of the date (a Friday) and booked time off ... then in our usual fashion the whole thing got ignored as far as any and all planning went until 20th December ... although we did address the core questions for the venture ...

  1. Do you include the stations ? yes, absolutely
  2. Do you have to do the pubs in order ? yup
  3. Do you have to do it all on public transport ? we decided no, but as it turned out couldn't get a taxi in Old Kent Road and so ended up doing it all by buses and tubes
  4. How much do you drink in each venue ? a half, we're stupid but not that stupid

But we were not completely unprepared. For starters The Ox had sucessfully completed the crawl (albeit five years younger) in order with stations. His encyclopedic knowledge of London (a veritable virtual black cab driver) and his famous stamina would prove to stand us in good stead throughout the day. Slightly worryingly, during his attempt, he had a friendly car driver on assist for the first few properties and yet only made it to The Grapes in Mayfair at 10:50. Still, throughout the day we could compare our progress against Ox-time and check how we were doing,

Wode had also got prior experience. The fact he could not remember whether he had done it in order, or including stations and turned up in a foul mood with a foul cold left him somewhat less useful.

We also found some cool sites on the web of people who had done the crawl before us. Scarily many or most had decided to do the properties on the board in a "more convenient" order (wimps !!).

We had our first casualty a couple of days before the crawl even began. Sobers called with one of those hoarse voices you put on when you are phoning in sick to work to annouce he had a really bad cold and couldn't make it

The Night Before

The night before the big day I really got the fear about the whole "no planning" thing. My brother picked me up from Cheshunt and drove us down to his flat in Muswell Hill. On the way we picked up a Monopoly board, a tube of superglue and four pizzas. Plan is to make a commerative framed board for me with the photos we took outside each pub next to the properties. Given the fact that he still hasn't got round to engraving the cups he awarded from the table football tournament we had over a year ago ... I am not holding my breath (as per the 24th February (and now the 29th May)), he is supposedly checking up on sobers claims that he can produce Monopoly Board property sized photos to order ... more information as it happens - as of the 19th August, the photos have been produced by Senor Sobers and the ball is back in my brother's court)..

The superglue was to make gay little broach pins out of the monopoly playing pieces (and they all scoffed and said it wouldn't work, the fools) ... pizzas to fuel us while we used my brother's incredibly slow internet connection to do some late-in-the-day planning (going back to a modem after broadband is painful indeed). The only upside of sitting there with an A-to-Z and a suppossed 56kbps connection was that the clock ticked over past midnight so I got to open my presents (a toy pinball machine in lieu of the real one my wife had on order for me which was delivered on the 10th April and a real "yard of ale" vessel from my brother - needless to say it was not christened on this occasion). When I headed to bed around one o'clock the nutter was around Regent Street and still planning with the words "it's not fair to put the pressure on the Ox and rely completely on him". As noted, when it came to it that is exactly what we did ...

We decided that while we toured the board, we would obtain a photo outside each venue (this proved to be very hard for pissed up brains to remember ... when you turn up at a place you're in a rush to get in there and get the beer ordering underway ... once the beers are sunk the only thing in your mind is getting on to the next one) and to record an entry and exit time for each place (also surpisingly difficult to do in the heat of the moment). For consistency, times were recorded as the moment I crossed the threshold in and out of each pub.

As you can imagine, the record sheet got a bit worn by the end of the twelve hours.

The Crawl

CJ turned up at my brother's flat around 8:30am as planned (the others were scheduled to meet us in Old Kent Road for breakfast at a venue not determined in advance) and, armed with mobile phones, the marked up A-to-Z and stout hearts we headed out into the cold. A bus turned up as if by magic (I took this to be a good omen until Dave reminded me it was the Friday rush hour and we were in London) and ferried us up to Highgate Station where the requisite zones 1234 travelcards were purchased by all. A short jaunt and we were at Elephant and Castle tube (right on the New Kent Road).

After a bit of a palaver with mobile phones and fuckwittery all round with the underpass system on the Elephant and Castle roundabout, we met up with The Ox who had planned with the same amount of contingency time. No way of contacting Wode though (he resolutely refuses to succumb to the evils of mobile phones ... although in true Wode fashion, he did let us know halfway through the day that he in fact had his girlfriend's mobile with him).

Now four strong, off we set down the New Kent Road, rejoicing as it morphed into the fabled Old Kent Road. We immeadiately passed a couple of really, really ropey looking dives (the sort of place you'd be scared to enter at 11am of a morning, let alone consider for an evening visit). Hungry we also passed a few really nasty, dingy greasy spoons ... the sort of place well-bred rats turn their noses up at. Worry started to set in about getting some food to line stomachs before the boozing began. We pressed on ... then, just past the Lord Nelson (our intended first port of call) we saw a clean looking cafe with an open plan kitchen and plumped for it ...

No self respecting Monopoly pub crawl should consider any other first port of call. Four lardy fry ups ordered and a call from my in-laws to wish me Happy Birthday later and finally a call from Wode. From Paddington Station. We informed him of our whereabouts and suggested he get a taxi ... of course he ignored this and ran from Elephant and Castle tube station, turning up at 10:45, out of breath, annoyed and claiming he felt sick. Still at least he therefore didn't mind missing breakfast. 10:50 and The Ox (having already tried to get into the Lord Nelson at about 10:30 on the off-chance they'd let us slip a cheeky one in) marshalls us out to the first venue ...

We sparked up the kitty (a dodgy old plastic bag I had in my pocket for some reason) with £30 from Ox and a £15 from me and we were ready to go.

A lightning stroll two doors down and across a side road from the Rose Cafe lies the Lord Nelson.

Lord Nelson

338 Old Kent Road
Ox Time : 11:14
Our Time : 10:56 - 10:58
Round : 5 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : Ox

And what a great start to the day, note that we were out of the pub before it was even legally allowed to open. Even funnier, when they let us in at five to eleven, there was an old guy sat there just about to crack into his second pint of the day. We got a few smiles for ordering five halves (which turned up in rather gay wine glass style form) then necking them, but I'm guessing the Lord Nelson regulars might see this reasonably often on a Friday morning !

The original plan at this point was to get a taxi to handle one of the longest inter-pub trips on the board. While we had sat stuffing our faces with bacon and eggs about a dozen black cabs had driven merrily by. Now, of course, there were none to be seen. So we set up back towards the Elephant and Castle, looking back over our shoulders on the off-chance that one came by. Eventually we decided to get a bus back to the tube station, and then get a cab there if one was immediately available, otherwise we'd use the underground, and in the end, that's how it turned out. A few stops up the Northern Line to Bank, navigation of many escalators and then up the District Line to Whitechapel. It was at this point that the idea of eschewing taxis for the rest of the day and doing the crawl with tubes and buses only was floated. The decision was deferred until Fenchurch Street ... but gathered strength as the day went on. Jogging down from Whitechapel to the pub, you pass one of those scrat markets where people are trying to sell you individual batteries for 35p and various fruits ... you've got to love the East End ... and arrive at the Blind Beggar.

Blind Beggar

337 Whitechapel Road
Ox Time : 11:35
Our Time : 11:39 - 11:42
Round : 5 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : Dave

Apparently the Blind Beggar was a notorious haunt of the Kray brothers in which Jack "The Hat" McVitty was killed. It certainly contained some interesting, very large skin-headed men whose pint you would not wish to spill. It had the appearance of a place where the primary focus was not the business of drinking but planning nefarious deeds. Five preppy chaps ordering girlie half pints may not be someting these people are used to ... three minutes later we were out of there and moving on. At this point Wode was wearing the "hat" pin badge from Monopoly and there was some discussion as to whether we should make him go into the pub with a car jack in his right hand and a packet of digestives in his left ... common sense and practicality prevailed ...

Sinisterly I found a strange pound coin in my change later on in the day ... we chose to assume that this did not mean I was now a marked man (half a year later I am starting to relax).

By this time Wode was beginning to feel the ill effects of a) his cold and b) sinking two half pints he did not want at all. And, as we jogged back to Whitechapel tube station, he announced the need to stop for sustenance and proceeded to get stuck behind someone in a newagents for whom the apparently simple transaction of purchasing a newspaper and a Mars bar was an intellectual feat of almost intractable difficulty ... and the clock ticked on. After what seemed like an age, but was probably in fact only about two minutes, Wode emerged triumphant with a bottle of Vittel and two bananas (not a recommended choice for a pub crawl in my mind, but it takes all sorts).

Then, another tube journey (six stops up the Hammersmith and City line) to our first station of the day ...

Coopers

Kings Cross Station
Ox Time : 12:10
Our Time : 12:07 - 12:10
Round : 5 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : CJ/Dave/Ox

As you come up from the tube, Coopers is up a passage way to the left of the main line platforms as you look at them from the station. Not a lot of excitment with the old station bars (apart from a three way tie in the speed drinking stakes) and, keeping under the three minute barrier, we were off to the light blues.

There now ensues the first situation of the day where, although all the properties of a given colour are fairly close together, the pubs on the relevant streets contrive to lead you a merry dance back and forth across the same bit of London (and the faint of heart might almost wish we were not doing things strictly in order ...). But back down into the tube and one stop west on the Northern line to Angel.

Apparently Angel contains the longest escalator on the underground system. The Ox decided to inform us of this after my brother and myself had chuntered up the stairs at top speed (although I expect we could have guessed we were in for some unwanted excercise when we realised we couldn't actually see the top of the damn thing from the bottom). Having started first at the bottom of the escalators we are out of breath, last and almost dead at the top.

Out of the tube, across Upper Street and a few hundred yards up to the right lies the next pub. Cunningly sending the Ox and CJ ahead to the pub to get the beers in, myself, Wode and Dave got cashed up ... and so we arrived at the Nags Head ...

The Nags Head

12 Upper Street
Ox Time : 12:40
Our Time : 12:25 - 12:27
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : Ox

Although we registered a two minute turnaround time in The Nags Head, somehow this managed to include us chatting to our first nice barmaid of the day. She seemed impressed at the feat that we were undertaking and I thought I spotted a little twinkle in CJ's eye. But no time to hang around as we rushed out of the pub, back to the tube station and down the escalator into Angel tube (which is not half as daunting as it seems going up).

Some of the fun of pelting back down into the bowels of the earth was taken out of this however when Ox informed us that we would be back here in two pubs time for the Pentonville Road stop. Even more dire, as the tube pulled out to take us one stop back east along the Northern line to Kings Cross, someone realised that we had neglected to take the obligatory photo outside of the Nags Head. After a brief heated discussion, it was decided we would have to return to get the photo'. Great sighs of relief were heaved when we thought how dire this would have been had we forgotten to get a photo' back in Old Kent Road instead ... as it turned out it would only prove to require a detour of a few hundred yards ...

And so a short trip down the Euston Road from Kings Cross to O'Neills ...

O'Neills

73-77 Euston Road
Ox Time : 13:05
Our Time : 12:39 - 12:46
Round : 2 guiness, 3 bitter
Fastest Gullet : CJ/Ox

On the way to O'Neills a makeshift sweepstake sprang up about how long it would be before Wode would be leaving our happy band. Loyally I plumped for after Mayfair, between now and the next couple of pubs, CJ went for after Northumberland Avenue and the Ox for after Bond Street. A bit of a barney sprang up between my brother and myself at some point during the light blues where he claimed he had already picked Mayfair and I claimed he couldn't have done as I had it already. He shifted after some reluctance and a short sulk to after Trafalgar Square.

Now, I was dreading O'Neills due to their propensity to serve heavy headache beers like Caffrey's and then two of our number (Ox and CJ I believe) decided to go for a thick pint of Guiness ... and then neck them fastest of us all. By this time (it being lunchtime on the last Friday before Christmas) things were starting to fill up but Arnie style purchasing from the Ox got us in and out pretty quickly (albeit our slowest time so far at seven minutes). Wode, having pressed on stoically on the drinking finally copped out of his half of bitter and stuck to the Vittel mineral water he was still nursing. My prediction for how long he would last suddenly looked ropey and it appeared Dave might have got lucky ...

And then back to the dreaded Northern line for our second trip back to the Angel tube station of the day. A quick detour back up to the Nags Head to get our picture (with the suggestion from CJ that we should really go back into the pub for another half since we had had to revisit it quickly quashed by the rest of us on suspicion that he just wanted another chat with the barmaid).

Around this stage CJ, Wode and Dave nugged in £30 each into the kitty and I put in another £40 over the next couple of pubs. Suddenly the dodgy plastic bag (transparent and stuffed with twenty and ten pounds notes) felt like a bit more of a liabilty ... but we managed to ignore this quite sucessfully as we spent it on brain numbing booze.

After this followed our first walk of the day. During the walk a discussion ensued about "more challenging" variants of the pub crawl. In rough order of insanity these were :-

  1. if your route later on during the day takes you back through an existing property, you must have another half at this property
  2. you should actually roll two dice to determine the pub you move on to next and carry on until all have been visited (some discussion about whether you'd have to keep going back to the same pub again and again or could miss out ones you had already been to)
  3. the "shuttle pub crawl" where you would have to return for a half in Old Kent Road after every other property

... we can save these for his 30th ...

Dave confidently took the lead around the back streets from Upper Street to Pentonville Road where we were originally heading for the Duke of York (120 Pentonville Road). A bit of a panic from me when it looked as if we weren't 100% of our direction caused an A-to-Z to be produced as we turned onto Penton Street and then Pentonville Road was in front of us. And on the corner of it, having validated that a door existed on Pentonville Road as well as Penton Street we found a comedy little place called The Finca and decided to dive in ...

The Finca

96-98 Pentonville Road
Ox Time : 13:25
Our Time : 13:12 - 13:17
Round : 4 halves of cold lager
Fastest Gullet : CJ

... and to our surprise it turned out we were in a trendy Spanish tapas bar with a chrome bar in the center of it and the rest entirely filled with tables. This kind of took us all back a little as we had expected a pub, but the somewhat lackadaisical waiting staff didn't seem to care if we had a four course meal, a small beer or burnt the place down. Suddenly it became clear why this expensively decorated place was completly empty even during a late (Mediterranean ?) lunchtime at this time of the year.

So we perched at the chrome bar while a barman eventually deigned to serve us with four half pints (Wode demurred here too) of ice cold San Miguel lagers in elegent thin glasses. This gave CJ the opportunity to claim his first solo downing record and then, brain freeze in tow we headed out of the wierdest venue we'd come across so far.

We continued on down Pentonville Road back to Kings Cross (past the Duke of York which looked to have far less character) and then headed seven stops down the Victoria line to Green Park.A brief walk (via the mildy amusing discovery of Bennet (sic) Street) brought us on to Pall Mall, the first property on the Monopoly board to not have a pub on it. Fortuately, about 30 yards down the narrow Crown Passage lies the Red Lion ...

The Red Lion

23 Crown Passage
Ox Time : 13:56
Our Time : 13:47 - 13:51
Round : 4 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : CJ/Ox/Dave

The Red Lion is a tiny, one room pub like someone's front room and it was absolutely packed with people three deep at the narrow bar. Dave, in a superb assertive move, got right on the case even to the point of asking the guy in front of him whether he would mind if we got served first. A couple of the rest of us with no other mission (other than to relieve the pressure on very full bladders) had already noticed a shady group hanging around with pieces of paper that contained a grid with suspiciously Monopoly looking notations. And to our amusement the guy in front of Dave turned out to be on the very same crawl !

We didn't stick around to gloat at the fact that we were doing it all in order (including stations) and see if they were too as the other group appeared to be drinking pints and the terrifying prospect that they were going to drink 26 pints over the course of the day was too horrible to face (plus the fact that if this were true it would mean that they were already on their seventh pints of the day !).

So, necking our measly halves (with Wode defering both this option and the chance to get a sandwich from the shop across the alley to sate his increasingly verbally expressed hunger - the rest of us were still subsiding on beer calories), just remembering to get a photo and heading off on foot down Pall Mall to Whitehall and Old Shades ...

The Old Shades

37 Whitehall
Ox Time : 14:15
Our Time : 14:02 - 14:06
Round : 4 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : Dave

Apparently Old Shades is the oldest pub in London. Amusingly, so are about five other pubs in London, but its olde worlde charm remains and it is worth the slight detour.

Four swift halves later (I believe Wode was still on the wagon although my notations and record keeping start to get hazier on such details at this point), the Sherlock Holmes is only a three minute janut from here ...

The Sherlock Holmes

10 Northumberland Street
Ox Time : 14:33
Our Time : 14:09 - 14:16
Round : 4 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : Ox

By the time you leave the Sherlock Holmes you've managed to down four half pints in just over an hour which starts to feel almost like real drinking. Apparently this is a pub in which many politicians are know to drink, but unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to invite Mr. Blair to join us for a pint or Mr. Prescott to join us for a fight ...

Wode was still with us, admitedly just finishing his mineral water bottle, but none the less making it past CJ's sweepstake prediction.

And then you hit the second beard of a station to get out to and a twenty minute tube journey ensues. This ones not quite so bad, five stops up the Bakerloo line, but it feels like an eternity when you are just starting to get a taste for beer, to Marylebone station ...

Victoria and Albert

 

Marylebone Station
Ox Time : 15:05
Our Time : 14:34 - 14:42
Round : 5 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : Ox

Around about this time, everyone started to get a little careless about trying to make sure we kept together. Something we wouldn't pay for until Leceister Square another quarter of the way around the board. We tended to get strung out with the Ox striding ahead and one or two of us keeping up with him in rotation leaving someone to keep an eye on the sick and the lame stragglers. But at this point it was all under control (in reading this, the gentlemanly Ox offered his solemn apologies)..

So, when we entered Marylebone Station and Wode's need for a pie finally became too much to bear, we did first locate the Victoria and Albert tucked away in the corner of the station (after one of the Ox's rare panics in which he declared that the pub in the station must have shut and was all for marching us out into the street again)and then dispatch him to Old Mrs. Miggins pie shop in the other corner while we got the beers in. I couldn't quite remember whether or not he had wanted a beer so we got him one in anyway ... the poor thing languished half drunk on the table outside the station bar as we headed back down into the tube.

The Bakerloo line to Piccadilly Circus, follwed by a change onto the Piccadilly line to Covent Gardenm and a ride up in the elvators took us to within walkbing distance of Bow Street, the second property on the board with no pub on its (short) length, and hence to Long Acre and the Kembles Head (which, to be fair we did enter through the door on Bow Street !)...

Kembles Head

61/62 Long Acre
Ox Time : 15:35
Our Time : 15:07 - 15:13
Round : 4 halves bitter, 1 G&T
Fastest Gullet : CJ

In the Kembles Head, Wode started to find his second wind and my Mayfair bet didn't look quite so stupid. No doubt buoyed up by his pie and by five shirks in a row he announced that he was starting to feel better and that maybe a Gin and Tonic would be just the thing. So while the rest of us stuck with our traditional halves of bitter Wode supped on his fizzy, cold option with ice and a slice.

A resonably long but welcome walk to Holburn (during which we turned the corner from Great Queen Street onto Kingsway to be handed some - surprisingly nice - egg nog concoction outside a Starbucks which we all guzzled greedily, or four of us did since CJ drew a short straw and there was no time to let the santa-hatted gimp replenish his tray) and then two stops down the central line to Oxford Circus later and we were in (Great) Marlborough Street at the Shakespeares Head.

Shakespeares Head

29, Great Marlborough Street
Ox Time : 16:10
Our Time : 15:34 - 15:41
Round : 5 halves bitter
Fastest Gullet : Ox

Great Marlborough Street is a reasonably long T-shaped street which in many ways is bloody lucky to have a public house on it at all. And we had been aiming for the Fanfare and Firkin, although we all agreed that Firkin's were a travesty of a pub chain. For different reasons it turned out, I used to like them when they brewed their own beer before they got taken over, everyone else hated them even then.

But I digress, and let's give Wode the benefit of my fading memory, I'm pretty sure he was back in the running for a beer now.

We'd started to slow down our earlier hectic downing pace by now, with the heady early times of 2-3 minutes in each pub replaced by 6-8 ... but we were ahead of Ox time and that's what mattered most. I was even starting to wonder if we could get a good close to an hour buffer in case of problems, especially when Ox let me know that he'd encoutered delays around the greens when he was doing it.

A brief walk took us to Vine Street where we were expecting to have to settle for Bentley's Oyster Bar (actually on Swallow Street opposite the ridiculously tiny Vine Street). Imagine our delight when we found a pub with an entrance actually on Vine Street itself ironically called the Swallow Street Bar ...

The Swallow Street Bar

 

Vine Street
Ox Time : 16:25
Our Time : 15:48 - 16:01
Round : 5 designer bottles of lager
Fastest Gullet : Amnesty Called

I say a pub, but in fact the Swallow Street Bar was very much a "bar", a trendy wine bar no less. Someone in my office suggested maybe they had opened on Vine Street to capture the lucrative Monopoly pub crawl trade. I'm pretty sure that they are going to be dismayed if they get a ready stream of people staggering in six pints the worse for wear in the late afternoon. Still, all low lighting, tasteful logos projected on the wall and swirly psychadelic patterns with smart bar staff.

Oh, and no draft bitter ... so we each settled for our favourite designed lager (mine's a Kirrin). Given the fact that this round set us back £17 and that we would officially be halfway round the board and ahead of Ox time after this stop, we called a downing amnesty. Like a weasel I got mine down my neck first anyway (it was my only way to compete with the three open throated bastards who could neck a half of guiness in one draft in under ten seconds whilst I was left to speed gulp mine in easy installments ... well until the dark blues that is ... read on). Still, it made me feel better !

A leisurely 13 minutes later (an eternity in this game), we moved out of our comfy chairs (Wode leaving another wounded drink behind even at over £3 a bottle). We then headed out into the increasingly cold afternoon, taking the Bakerloo Line from Piccadilly Circus to Charing Cross and heading off down the Strand. At this point it was decided that food would be a good idea. Although there was a McDonalds en route, suddenly we were a group of five junk food coinessuers, each with a different idea of the haute cusine establishment required (i.e. KFC or Burger King). I sheperdarded everyone into the big M anyway with my brother requesting "just a cheeseburger". He seemed pleased enough when the kitty bought him a large fries to go with it in the end however. A little further on down the street outside Tower Records, my brother spotted one of those dodgy outdoor newsagents stalls and inquired as the whether any of us felt a purchase of pornography would be appropriate at this juncture. A chorus of approval was followed by a discussion on the exact publications ... the kitty purchased a copy of Playboy College Girls (at CJ's request) and another soft-porn classic who's title is not important ... and we headed on to our next stop, the Coal Hole ...

The Coal Hole

91 Strand
Ox Time : 17:10
Our Time : 16:25 - not recorded
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : Dave

The Coal Hole was familiar teritory as it is the place we have tended to come for boat races, and at this time of the day it was absolutely packed, but otherwise uneventful.

Carrying on walking up the Strand, we headed under the Aldwych and past the Law Courts (at which point Ox, a solicitor, informed us that this building lies on the dividing line between the Cities of London and Westminster - I'm not sure how interested we were at the time, but it is nice to know these things ...).

Just on the city side of this important divide, on Fleet Street, lies the Old Bank of England...

The Old Bank of England

??photo??

194 Fleet Street
Ox Time : 17:35
Our Time : 16:40 - 16:50
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : Ox

The Old Bank of England is a glorious pub set in a regal building, inside it has high ceilings and a mezzanine level along with (at this festive season) a mighty Christmas tree. This splendour was not lost on us as we guzzled our halves ...

Having spent an inordinate amount of time stood on the steps outside, blocking other people's passage, to get a good photo of the place it appear it didn't out it didn't turn out ! There was then a choice of transport and (at Wode's insistence) we took the bus on to Trafalgar Square and The Chandos ...

The Chandos

29 St. Martin's Lane.
Ox Time : 18:00
Our Time : 17:03 - 17:13
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : CJ

... Sam Smith beers and wingeing ... porn reading on way out ... Dave and Ox surge off into the night but we meet up again outside the pub ... tube delay ... more porn reading (on a massively packed commuter train) ... up out of the tube to Fenchurch Street Station, alleged home of the Angel pub. In actual fact it proved harder than that ...

I guess it should have been a premonition for the near disaster about to fall us after a sucessful day so far (apart from the inevitable grouchy friction you get when five people try to navigate 26 venues in 11 hours). Fenchurch Street Station nearly defeated us. We turned up, and suddenly all of us found it impossible to think, the Angel was nowhere to be seen in the mazelike confines of the station. Perhaps addled by our long delay we wandered around like fools until (and I think it was me who asked someone in uniform) inspiration struck and we found the promised land in the form of a very pokey little bar right in the corner of the place. Definately one to scope out in advance (unless we were truly being idiots).

The Raven

Fenchurch Street Station
Ox Time : 18:40
Our Time : 18:03 - 18:07
Round :
Fastest Gullet : Ox

We then almost got seperated after a piss-break in the underground toilets (I got nervous ballder syndrome and ended up having to wait for a cubicle in which I spent an agonising few minutes wondering if the others had wandered off and left me behind) there but somehow managed to stumble back down into the depths of the tube system one more time onto the District Line back west to almost where we had started before our delay. Popping up in Embankment to walk to one of the easiest locations to navigate, Leicester Square and the Moon Under Water ...

Before I explain what happens next, I have a confession to make I've held back on until now. I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I mean, it was amazing me how close everything was together when we were planning on the map the night before. I'd just been trailing around the others like a faithful puppy for the rest of the day, amazed at their acumen. But, I do have to say the one place I can find is Leicester Square ... its pretty unmissable, especially with the massive cinemas and the ferris wheel it gets at Christmas time ...

Myself, Ox and CJ came out of Embankment a little ahead of the others, turned left to head up past Charing Cross mainline station and paused to wait for Wode and Dave. Ox got the nicotine craving and headed off to buy some comedy mini Cafe Creme cigars (a product the adjective effete might have been specifically invented for) and a pack of Marlborough lights for "other fools" (I should note CJ hasn't touched a cigarette for months to remove any ambiguity). And then we waited ... and waited ... and waited. I tried my brother on his mobile, but no joy getting through. I've always been taught that the thing to do if you get seperated is to wait in the last place that you were all together, but I put myself in my (half-cut) brother's shoes and reasoned he had likely yomped off to Leicester Square to meet us there. So, after a brief tactical discussion Ox was convinced we should head off to try to find him there.

We'd squandered ten minutes by now, but I finally got through to Dave, who was safely with Wode outside the Garfunkels on the corner of Leceister Square and heading to the Moon Under Water. We agreed to rendezvous there and that they would fight through the early evening crowd to get the beers lined up.

It took several weeks to work out exactly how we had got seperated. Dave said that Wode had "turned the wrong way when we got off the tube". I took this to mean at the point where we came overground at Embankment. Turns out he actually meant underground as we got off the tube at Embankment. While the rest of us turned left towards the way out, they turned the wrong way. At which point, Dave decided to marshall them back on to the tube through to Leicester Square station (hence not surprising we did not see them come past us, nor that I could not get through to his mobile) instead of leaving at Embankment.

Anyhow, crisis averted ...

... or so we thought ... myself, Ox and CJ duly turned up at the pub where it was looking ominously as if it were deciding whether to snow or rain. We split up and quatered the heavingly busy bar, but no sign of Dave and Wode. I decided to get in a contigency five halves of bitter anyhow and we stacked them up on a tacky sliver table just outside. On calling my brother he assured us that he was at the Moon Under Water on Leceister square. A confused conversation later the truth was out, somehow Dave had become confused and headed off away from the square to the nearby Moon Under Water on Charing Cross Road. It was only as I was writing this up that I realized the boy had sown the seeds of his confusion the previous evening when I rexamined the address he had assigned to this pub on the plan.

Still, no permanent harm was done as Dave was easily persuaded to abandon the five halves he had got in and leg it back to the main square ... and hence we finally rendezvoused the five of us at the real McCoy, on Leicester Square, the Moon Under Water ...

Moon Under Water

28 Leicester Square
Ox Time : 19:20
Our Time : 18:44 - 19:02
Round : 5 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : Ox

By this time, I'd been in the pub for almost twenty minutes, as the time reflect. Standing outside in the sleet we necked our pints, my brother and I got shirty with each other for a bit then had an emotional making up and off we yomped to the next venue.

... ??bouncer incident (one bouncer let four of us in then stopped Dave, bouncer came in to find us, leaving Dave with other bouncer and somewhat bemused) ?? ...

Waxy O'Connors

16 Rupert Street
Ox Time : 19:50
Our Time : 19:07 - 19:16
Round :
Fastest Gullet : Ox

... ?? bouncer incident in Devonshire Arms ?? ... big tree is in Waxy O'Connors ... five minute struggle for Dave and Pete to back of the pub to piss .. then when get back to front, others announce they need to make the journey too !

Glassblowers Arms

42 Glasshouse Street, Piccadilly
Ox Time : 19:55
Our Time : 19:23 - 19:30
Round :
Fastest Gullet : CJ

... trendy stipped pine/flourescent lighting/long chrome bar with no bitter on tap ... designer lager ... porn still in evidence in the photo ...

And here we had our only real moment of shame in the day. Tired, cold and wet we were heading down Regent Street looking for the All Bar One when a pub was spotted 10 yards up a "suitable" side street. I confess I was the ringleader who cracked and said "this one will do" but no-one else had the oomph to knock some sense into me and carry me on down the correct street and so we settled for the Digress on Beak Street which is within sight of Regent Street (I guess we needed an incentive to redo the whole crazy thing for my brother's 30th though) ... shame on us ...

Digress

10, Beak Street
Ox Time : 20:10
Our Time : 19:39 - 19:49
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : not recorded

Less said the better, we got our drinks down us and began the long detour to the only pub on the next property of the board (the porn can still be made out in the photo for this venue).

Pretty ironic really after the last debacle that we then walked the length of Oxford Street to get the real pub on this property rather than settled for some imposter down a side street. As you can imagine trying to walk the length of Oxford Street at approaching 8pm on a Friday night any night of the year is a feat worthy of Hercules ... on the 2nd to last shopping day before Christmas I think even Hercules would think twice ...

At one point in our marathon we decided to hop on a crowded bus. Dave regaled us and the rest of the passangers with some pretty tuneless Christmas carols and refused to stop even when we begged him. A very cunning conductor employed one of the best bits of reverse psychology I've seen in a long while by praising his spirit and giving him a tiny shiny sticker for the lapel of his leather jacket. Entranced like a magpie with his new present, he completely forgot about the whole singing business. At about this point we realised that shoppers were walking past the bus faster than the bus was managing to progress. Fortunately it was a Routemaster so we could just hop off the back and carry on our merry way by foot.

For the record, I had non-kosher slash 1 of 2 at this point, although I did duck in to Burger King to do so.

And so we came to the Tottenham, number 6 Oxford Street ... and you can't get much closer to the wrong end of the damn street than that ...

The Tottenham

6 Oxford Street
Ox Time : 20:35
Our Time : 20:11 - 20:16
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : Ox/Dave/Wode

Apart from the inevitable needling between CJ (a spurs fan) and my brother (a lifetime gooner), a pretty uneventful drink this one.

We dived down Tottenham Court Road tube station and after a trip along the Central Line popped up at Bond Street. Now there really is no pub on Old Bond Street so we ducked into Shelleys on Stafford Street instead ...

Shelleys

??photo??

10 Stafford Street
Ox Time : 20:55
Our Time : 20:34 - 20:39
Round : ??
Fastest Gullet : Ox

??pretty uneventful?? ... chatty and friendly South African barman ...

Now we were 3/4 of the way round the board and everyone was bearing up remarkably well on the whole sobriety front. My biggest worry was startnig to be getting us all into Park Lane, rather than getting around the board in time. But there then follows the fourth and final beard of a mainline station (this thing would be easy without the damn stations ... I guess where's the fun in that though). A deceptively short walk back to the tube station led to one of the shittest journeys of the day back out the Liverpool Street station via the Central Line. Delay and all.

As we came out of the tube, suddenly everyone started feeling the booze, everyone needed the toilet, there was no toilet in the bar so people were traipsing off to the public loos (then it turned out that there was a toilet in the bar !). The potential for disaster seemed high, but was not realised and finally we all gathered in the Hamilton Hall ...

Hamilton Hall

Liverpool Street Station
Ox Time : 21:40
Our Time : 21:05 - 21:11
Round : 5 halves of bitter
Fastest Gullet : CJ/Dave

So, an hours detour from Bond Street back to Park Lane and all for the pleasure of hoisting a half of bitter in a busy but soulless bar in Liverpool Street Station ... ho, hum and back down into the tube.

Its pretty soul destroying to repeat the journey back to about 100 yards from where you have just left back down the Central Line to Marble Arch (actually one stop beyond Bond Street tube station where we had been just over an hour earlier), but fortunately I occupied the boring train journey by drilling people in the plan to get into the next venue (I can get a bit anal). I'd decided that Ox and are were the most respectable of the bunch and that we would take the lead (a decision I think I stand by). The plan was that we would head confidently in and chat to the doorman if we needed to. All the other three had to do was hang a couple of yards behind us and keep quiet. Ox even had a backup plan that, if we ran into trouble we would announce we were doing the crawl for charity (I think we even decided on the charity). Being honest guys, this would have meant we would have felt compelled to sweeten the kitty up a bit (it was looking a little worse for wear by now even though we all had nugged in an extra tenner a stop or so ago) and then actually donate it to charity ... a simple enough plan.

Or so we thought ... I guess I probably set the wrong tone as we were walking down Park Lane by needing my second and final non-kosher slash of the day (behind a tree this time) and by the time Ox and I strode confidently up to the door of the hotel with our best ex-Oxford faces on, we had no idea that the other three were nowhere to be seen.

Ox had prior experience of the hotel and I'd checked with him that he knew where the bar was located and he was confident it was just on the left as you went in. A good first sign, no doorman, and we swung confidently into the lobby and turned left ... into darkness ... all pretenses at sauve knowing strolling kind of went out the window now and we basically just asked someone drunkenly where the bar was ... they seemed happy to oblige.

And in we headed ... at this point I realised that, far from being two steps behind us following our "casual" lead, we were alone. But not to fear, in two loud groups the other three staggered in, asking loudly after us and we were all into The Grovesnor House Hotel ...

The Grovesnor House Hotel

 

90 Park Lane
Ox Time : 22:25
Our Time : 21:48 - 22:04
Round : 2 whiskies, 1 G&T, 2 bottles of lager
Fastest Gullet : Pete

Plush carpets, tasteful lighting, comfy sofas, bar staff in black tie ... only one more hurdle to go ... actually getting them to serve five scratters.

And they didn't even bat an eyelid as CJ and Ox ordered up single malt whiskies (although to avoid extravagence Ox did insist on 12 year old, not 16 year old - whereupon a fresh bottle of Laphroaig was opened for CJ), Wode chose his trademark G&T and Dave and I settled for a bottle of designer lager. And the cost of the round ? a majestic £28 ! Having left a generous tip to bring it up to £32 (well, what the hell) we sunk into the comfy chairs to savour our drinks, easily within striking distance of Mayfair and a wide range of pub chances and it still before 10pm.

I think we drunkenly confessed to the barmen what we were up to and got them to take a picture of us all gurning on the sofa. I get a bit self concious in posh surroundings when I feel like a pikey and the others seemed awfully loud over the gentle piano music, but the second bar man did bring us the largest bowl of top quality nuts I have ever seen (man were they welcome after we had subsisted for the past eleven hours on a McDonalds and beer) so we can't have been getting too offensive..

As you can see from the time we spent in there and the fact I registered my first "fastest gullet" of the tour, the others were getting pretty comfy. I finally managed to persuade them that we should relax safely inside a Mayfair pub over their protests of comfy chair/nut heaven and we finally headed back on out into the cold Winter's night.

And then just a short walk to the last venue of the day, the nearby Audley in Mayfair ...

The Audley

41 Mount Street, Mayfair
Ox Time : 22:50
Our Time : 22:08 -
Round : 2 halves of bitter, 2 pints of bitter, ??wode??, bottle of Bollinger
Fastest Gullet : Pete

No problems getting in here either and I ordered up a monstrous round to celebrate. The obligatory beers ??all round??, although ??CJ and Dave?? opted for pint measures (funny that we actually felt like a relaxed drink after all that hassle) and a bottle of champagne. And what better place to have champagne. I didn't even ask about vintage champagnes (I wasn't sure our pallettes were up to it) but even so, they had a choice of three non-vintage marques and served it up in a elegant ice bucket without needing to be asked.

To be honest, I think I was probably the only person with a taste for champagne (and for drinking relatively fast of my second gullet win of the day was anything to go by), but it did slip down a treat. And we wiled away the time until closing pleasently enough nursing our one round (and getting paranoid that we would forget the cameras).

About this point someone noticed that we had lost the porn (CJ in particular had been looking forward to getting it on its own since about Fleet Street and was especially disapointed) but could not for the life of us think whether we had left it on the tube to/from Liverpool Street or, worse still, on the comfy chairs in the Grovesnor House ... very poor either way ...

And Wode was still with us ! What a star, I'm not sure I'd have made it feeling that under the weather and I duly collected nothing but warm satisfaction from Wode as we revealed the sweepstake to him ...

Then it was last orders and we headed off into the night. Wode refused the option of a bed at Dave's and headed off into the night to try to find Reading in one direction. Ox bade us farewell and turned left out of the pub back to Balham and, the day ending as sweetly as it had begun when we walked out of Dave's flat, a black cab with its light on swung to a stop in front of Dave, CJ and myself.

A £30 cab ride that seemed to last an eternity and we were back where it had all begun in Muswell Hill.

Total cost of the day before people's transport home ? £270 and change ... not bad for such a monumental crawl ...

Dave's Flat

... pies from garage ... eggs and milk bought by Dave which are then forgotten and left on floor of flat ... Dave's girlfriend, fortunately drunk due to Xmas work party just got home too ... and she reminds Dave of milk purchase next day ... Dave and CJ loud foosball playing ...

The Day After

... writhing in pain hangovers ... best sausage sandwich in the world ... Sobers turns up with Camie for comedy 20 minute stint ...my washout party (with potential theft from Camie and my Dad going home before he had even turned up) ...

Outstanding Questions

??when did Dave's bouncer incident occur??


Pete (pete_@T_pajb.com) and Camie (camie_@T_camillabennett.com) Bennett
February 29, 2008