Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Angel Islington

Oh weep ye gentlewomen of England! Clutch your creased posters of the modern day Adonis to your hearts, wrent you clothing and claw at your haggard faces! Spiky haired Ed is no more!

Torn all too early from us, we are cast adrift in this living purgatory without a stylistic rudder to guide us! And all because he tried to cross the road looking the wrong way!
OK, ok, panic over, tissues away, he’s not dead. But he bloody nearly was!
Now that this blog is gaining something of a reputation at work, probably the wrong sort of reputation, there was a group of co-workers who were gagging to join me on the next instalment of this epic saga, which is why I’ve ended up doing two squares in one week. It was a group of 5 of us who strode boldly out on a pleasant Friday evening to sample the delights of The Angel Islington. But first we need to take a history lesson.
BGC points out to Charlie the orginal "Angel" - Rare picture of Spiky haired Ed in the middle of the road not being hit by traffic.

The Angel, of Islington fame, was a coaching inn near to a toll gate on the Great North Road and now finds itself smack bang in the middle of modern day Islington. It’s gone through a couple of rebuilds over the years but the inn that was built in 1899 is still there, seeing life in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s as the famous Lyon’s Corner House tea rooms and is now used as a bank. This place was mentioned in Dickens’s Oliver Twist no less and is also the first square on the board where I’ve managed to drink a pint right on the location itself, because although banks don’t serve pints, Weatherspoon’s do, and next door to the “old” Angel is a pub, called amazingly enough “The Angel”.
So emerging blinking into the evening sunshine we exited from Angel tube station (pub facts: Angel tube station has the longest escalator on the London Underground and the third longest in Western Europe (thanks Charlie) and is also one of only 5 stations on the Underground named after public houses – no prizes if you can guess the rest) and Spiky haired Ed must have been blinking more than the rest of us and he dashed to cross the busy Islington High Street, looking in completely the wrong direction only to be bounced by a couple of tons of Big Red London Bus. Saved only by the amount of hair gel protecting his precious face he nonchalantly continued to the cash point leaving the rest of us to joke with the bus driver who remained amazingly humorous considering the circumstances.
Couple of Angels

The Angel (the Weatherspoon’s one) is another open plan, pine floored, drinking cavern but it does have some of the friendliest bar staff ever. Being unable to locate the Cask Marque certificate I asked the manager where it might be, this caused him to leap batman like into action by racing around the pub, scanning the walls like he was searching for a hidden panel, only to also come up blank. He was then told by another member of staff that the certificate was up “in the office” and so off he went again returning with the treasured item allowing Aussie Pete and myself to scan it, explaining how it had been on the wall but had got knocked off and the frame smashed (what are the chances of that happening?) Now in how many other places would the reply have been, “it was around somewhere mate but dunno where it is now”! So top marks for the Angel’s staff, and also top marks for the couple of excellent pints of Cotswold Spring’s Stunner and Thornbridge’s Jaipur.

It was back to the history book then, as during my research into the Angel (the Islington one now) it mentioned the Red Lion Inn, (now the Old Red Lion) as being the place where Thomas Paine wrote some parts of “Rights of Man”.  The Inn is now a theatre pub and lies just across the crossroads from the Angel – rather confusingly the pub sign shows a picture of a boxer dog rather than a lion, but the pub’s website explains this as being Rolo, a much missed pub dog. The website also gives a full listing of what’s on in their upstairs theatre as well as mentioning that it welcomes “Monopoly Crawlers”!
Catalog pose on entering the Old Red Lion

The pub is a real mishmash of styles, with a glass panelled snug, the theatre box office and big screen teles all vying for position in the bar area. There’s a chirpy familiarity about the place that makes you feel like everyone would know your name after just a couple of regular visits.
For my first pint I plumped for the classic Timothy Taylor’s Landlord which came in a Abbot Ale glass and Charlie’s three pints of Grolsh (not all for Charlie (well not yet anyway) came in Carling Glasses (Grrrrrr). Again being unable to locate the Cask Marque certificate the bar staff finally found it under the bar – “ah, I remember what happened now” said one “It got knocked off the wall and the frame smashed” – What are the chances………
The evening then started to unravel into hilarious visits to the unlit toilets and much joviality around the fact that upstairs there was a performance of a one-man Tommy Cooper tribute show. “I wonder if he’ll do it like that?” mused Rob “Or perhaps, not like that, but like this?” and the mileage we seemed to get out of this joke went on far far too long. Far too long………………..
I remember a pint of Abbot Ale (served in a Woodforde’s glass) and trying Ed’s awful sickly sweet Kopparberg (served in another Abbot Ale glass) a pint of Spitfire (served in a branded thimble possibly) and a final pint (that should have been a half – thanks Charlie) of Landlord (served in a Landlord glass! Horay, got there in the end!)

Which brought the evening to a fitting end, a dash back down the longest escalator on the tube (luckily not like this guy) a race onto the just departing train from Paddington and a sprint round the monstrosity that is Reading Station. Cheers guys! Top evening!
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited = 42
Highlight of the evening = The barman in the Old Red Lion bemoaning that the picture of David Beckham pinned up to advertise the Olympic Football had had the C-Word scrawled across it after being there for about 10 minutes.
Final Pub Fact = The licensees for the Monopoly board game used to meet for tea in the Lyon’s Corner House (see above) which explains why it was included in the game. So there!
Next Stop = Chance?

1 comment: