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 Please bear in mind this is ten years out of date and is biased to west London.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.