Sunday, 20 June 2010

London Boozers

Sitting in The Doghouse listening to the rain plink relentlessly on the exquisitely tiled roof, I thought of my time in London and the various pubs that took the Combo shilling. Do you know I think I can feel a list coming on? So without thinking too hard, here are my top ten pubs in reverse order. Please bear in mind this is ten years out of date and is biased to west London.

10. The Elephant and Castle, just around the back of one of my favourite churches in London, St Mary Abbots on High Street Ken. Perfect for a pint after Evensong on a warm summer's evening.
9. The Red Lion, just off Jermyn Street. Wonderful mirrored interior and the bonus of a decent bookies directly opposite. Many a happy working afternoon was spent there, often enlivened by the sound of fellow inebriates cartwheeling down the precipitous stairs to the bog.
8. The Andover, Hammersmith. A locals' local, a spotlessly clean, well-run back street Fuller's boozer. Well it was, when it was run by Tom and Moira, the perfect Irish couple. They retired, now it's gone to the dogs, all chi-chi and soulless.
7. The Captain's Cabin, around the back of our office on Jermyn Street. Included because it was such a filthy shit hole, on the corner of a narrow side street that stank of urine. Inside it was worse, terrible beer, disgusting food, shoddy service, ghastly pond-life clientèle and a permanently sticky carpet. I liked it enormously. I understand it has been refurbished. Such a waste.
6. The Scarsdale, Kensington. Excellent session pub with cracking Aussie barmaids. Many a happy hour etc.
5. The Tabard, Turnham Green. Perfectly placed around the corner from the underground station on my way home to Bedford Park. Three doors from Andy's Kebabs, a shrine to calories. I remember once dining upstairs and seeing the table soar up past my face with a soundtrack of breaking wood and wicker. My chair had collapsed under me.
4. The Windsor Castle, Campden Hill Road. A gorgeous pub, smashing beer, wonderful interior and eye-wateringly expensive. What more could you want? Also the scene of the biggest, most life-changing mistake of my life. 1.40pm, Saturday 19th November 1988. Not that I'm bitter you understand.
3. The Dove, Hammersmith. Everyone loves this pub, wonderfully snug in the winter, glorious in the summer on the back terrace, watching the Thames rise and fall. I wonder what happened to Old Caramac, eh Pete?
2. Gordon's, Villiers Street. I know, I know, it's not a pub but this is my list and I don't care. A very special place. Makes me hanker for London just thinking about it. Another beaker of Sercial my man!
1. The French House, Dean Street. If I had to choose a pub for One Last One, it would be here at about 11 o'clock on a Friday morning. Probably a Bloody Mary since you ask.


12 comments:

TIW said...

The French is one of my favourites. best place in London on a summer evening.

Is that bloke by the window on his mobile? Time was they'd have booted him out for that.

Terry said...

I've been in seven out of your 10 and I agree with you on all of them.

ChrisP said...

My father used to frequent the Captain's Cabin before the war with his Artists' Rifles chums. And I used to meet a friend of mine in the Red Lion for lunch in the 1970s. On one occasion I asked the barmaid for a pint of bitter and she burst into tears. Had I inadvertantly hurt her feelings or something? "It's not you, I just got hit by the dishwasher," she said. I mumbled something about dangerous machinery and she added "They employ some horrible people down there."

alastair fox said...

Re; French ..I remember when there was a bench seat where those two lads are sitting by the window and Gaston still behind the bar. Bloody Mary's not what they were. Good list though Ron, and memories of Tabard next-door theatre-school boob-tube cleavage action flood back from when i used to nip in after work to read the Standard. Wld add the Golden Heart, Spitalfields and the Adelaide (pre-gentrification), Shephards Bush. Big-up Gordons - nothing like doing carafe of port there of an afternoon.

alastair fox said...

re:Gordon's ... sorry, schooners of sherry

Wartime Housewife said...

I'm completely with you on 2-6 and 8. Does Ron have a view on The Lamb and Flag?

Ron Combo said...

TIW: Well spotted, the "no mobile" notice was still chalked up the last time I was there.
Alastair: my last Bloody Mary was still pretty good I thought.
WH: good point, an oversight on my part. The Lamb and Flag should be there, probably in place of The Elephant and Castle.

TIW said...

The Lamb and Flag ain't been the same since the partition went...

Peter Ashley said...

Brilliant post Ron, and agree with all the ones I know about, which is about eight out of the ten. Keep it comin' Ron, can we have best country pubs, followed by town pubs, ad infinitum. And then the worst, and then...

Philip Wilkinson said...

Terrific post, Ron. I only know five of them, but they are the top five. And I spent quite a bit of the early 1980s in the Lamb and Flag – or rather mostly on the pavement outside it.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Spot on Ron. Thank goodness they've left The Doves alone; another one ruined is the Blue Anchor. This once fine boozer is now a horrible pastiche of a riverside pub. I'm sure it makes far more money than before but it is devoid of charm. The French in winter; early doors, Christmas Pudding vodka, woolly jumpers for goalposts... now you're talking.

Ron Combo said...

How I loved the temptations of the stews of Soho.
With you on The Blue Anchor (careful how you say that one) Fred, such a crying shame. Great winter boozer with all those guttering candles. Silly sods.