Sunday, 27 January 2013

Coventry Street

Come on now everyone, join in…….”Let’s all sing together, Play Up Sky Blues!” No-one? Miserable bastards the lot of you but it is a good way to start this week’s blog story with what has always been my favourite square on the board, named after my home town (or was Coventry named after the square?) Coventry Street. The actual street is rather anonymous, linking the top end of Piccadilly Circus with Leicester Square; you’ve probably walked down it hundreds of times without realising its name.

So it was definitely a square that needed a little more effort than normal both in terms of dress code and attractions. The attractions element was easily sorted as the three nearest Cask Marque pubs to Coventry Street were the Captains Cabin in Norris Street, the Tom Cribb in Panton Street and the Comedy Pub just around the corner in Oxendon Street. And funnily enough the Comedy Pub (geddit, “funnily enough” – “Comedy Pub”) has live comedy on Thursday and Friday nights so it wasn’t much effort to round up the normal suspects and entice them once more aboard the good ship Monopoly with an evening of top notch chortle fun.
Well I say top notch, I’ve got to say that the featured acts for the Friday we went touring I’d never heard of before, but at only a tenner for tickets, who really cares. What was proving to be slightly more problematic was the rounding up of the tourists for the evening. Spiky Haired Ed and Aussie Pete decided to play opposites with Ed claiming he was coming all week until crunch time when he bailed out with a pitiful excuse whilst Pete said with the imminent arrival of baby Pete he couldn’t risk going out until at the last minute his better half, Aussie Nicky, told him he was allowed to go, as long as he drank halves. Charlie and New Guy Micky were as ever reliable but the girls were proving much more difficult.
On the plus side the lovely Mags was free enough to make another appearance on the tour and was even bringing along two of her friends who had nothing better to do. But the girls who had so enthusiastically taken the BGC’s life mantras to heart whilst on Leicester Square were being very difficult to commit to this evening’s square. Alektorophobia Emma, who had even stopped me in the corridor this week to say she’d had a dream about me, “where you were a teacher at my school, taking us all swimming” (I mean, what are the subconscious messages littered amongst that lot!) kept saying how much she wanted to come out but would only umm and ahhh about actually coming. Nicole apparently had done something to her back, although there was more than a whiff of the Jackanory about this story than one might at first believe and Bomber Brenda’s only contribution to this week was to ensure we were all paid! Which I have to say, she did very well and I’m more than glad she did!
But the evening was rescued from the lip of the abyss by Gemmaration Game, who not only was up for another evening of ale-based tomfoolery but had managed to drag two of the other Payroll girls into the affray (more of them later). She was also slightly worryingly enthusiastic about the dress-code I’d set for the evening. Seeing as it was Coventry Street I thought it very appropriate that we all wore something Sky Blue. I’d even gone to the expense of buying a new Coventry City replica shirt (half way through the season, so they were half price) and was more than willing to lend my CCFC hats to anyone who wanted one. As it turned out, Gemma’s sky blue dress needed ironing (now she did mention she had on sky blue pants – she brought this up, not me!) so it was only Charlie who was sporting a sky blue shirt, but he does that every day anyway!
Nice hat Charlie!
We emerged from Piccadilly Circus tube station and took the Trocadero exit straight into Coventry Street itself. We then performed that most annoying trick of all tourists by trying to pose a photo next to the street sign and in the process blocked a pavement full of rush hour hurrying people. Just as we were wrapping up the photo shoot I spotted two other chaps obviously waiting for us to depart so that they could get their photo. “Are you just in the shirt cos it’s Coventry Street?” asked one, “well sort of” I explained “but I bet you two are on the Monopoly Tour then?” – “yes” bemoaned the other “we’ve been at it since 7 this morning and I’m knackered!” So I cheered them up by photo-bombing their snapshot – hope they remember their day out!
Ducking down the Haymarket we were soon ensconced in the Captains Cabin, a Taylor Walker pub with nothing remarkable about it whatsoever. I think when the main pub chain Cask Marque pubs of London shared out the pubs, Taylor Walker definitely got the short straw as their places are usually quite ordinary and they’ve taken no advantage whatsoever of their locations or history. The Captains Cabin is a prime example of this as the place, whilst being friendly and well run has all the charm of a B&Q outlet.
Outside the Captains Cabin
But talking about charm the ladies tuned their own brand of charm on by not only joining in with drinking beer but upping the half pint measure of last time by ordering pints! In fact the first order was for 6 and ½ pints of Black Sheep bitter and the half was for Aussie Pete. Retiring to a corner table we got to know the two lucky ladies who Gemma had dragged along. Firstly there was Charlene who has a disarming way of talking like someone from Eastenders as if they were in an episode of TOWIE. Charlie seemed delighted that there was a female version of his name joining the tour so seeing as I’ve never given him a nickname I’ll do the same for Charlene. The other tour novice was Sarah-Jane for whom I’d already got a nickname, one that’s been hanging around for some time. She’d once worn a yellow and black stripped dress at work and Aussie Pete had referred to her as “Bumblebee” and even though she’s never worn the dress since and both Pete and I had never spoken to her the intervening time, the name had stuck.
So the first pints were finished, in fact it should be recorded that the girls all finished before us although I suspect this was down to much nose holding and gulping rather than savouring (Charlene slammed her glass down with a grimace commenting “Gawd, my dad would be so proud of me!”) but they were still on board enough to have a second pint (St Austell Tribute) although obviously Charlene’s dad would have been proud enough to let her onto cider now.
Yeah, it's all smiles after the 1st pint - wait until it's your forth!
Mag’s friends turned up about the same time as New Guy Micky which meant the tour was well and truly Oestrogen heavy for the first time. I should add that I’d got the scan with the certificate being available just by the bar but I did notice that staff were pouring beer with the swan neck nozzle in the actual beer! They really should go on the Cask Marque Training Course! (see Intermission #4 for more details)
Across from Haymarket is Panton Street and it was there that we found the corner pub of Tom Cribb. A cosy little place, this is a Shepherd Neame pub with the walls littered with boxing related pictures (and the Cask Marque certificate). Apparently Tom Cribb was a famous 19th century bare knuckle boxer, who when retiring from the ring ran a pub called the Albion Arms on Panton Street. Although the number of the pub was different from today’s Tom Cribb, both pubs are known to have being located in the same place.
Outside the Tom Cribb - Nice hat Charlie!
I think Tom would have approved of the pub. Although packed, which meant the tour was spread between three tables, the pints of Late Red were superb. (I think Gemma and Bumblebee were still bravely continuing with the ale – Charlene downing pints of Strongbow like they were going out of fashion)
That doesn't look like cider Charlene!?
I managed to catch a few words with Mag’s two friends, Anna-Maria stunningly attractive, Italian with a 80 year old dad who’s a playboy apparently, and Natalie, just stunningly attractive.
Pints of Late Red developed into pints of Bishop’s Finger, a challenging pint for even the most seasoned of drinkers and it was this drink that probably finished me off. We moved next door to the Comedy Pub where I spotted the certificate at the far end of the bar and decided that a photo will have to satisfy Trevor for this one, but the next thing I’m really aware of is drinking Jägermeister shots with Mags at the upstairs bar of the Comedy Pub, which was where their little theatre was.

That is the certificate at the end - honestly!
It was pints of Grolsch in plastic glasses for the comedy show (if their full and bustling bar downstairs can use glass glasses why in their limited seating theatre do people have to use plastic?) and I can remember absolutely nothing of the comedians. I remember the compare, who looked like a cross between Austin Powers and Rolf Harris and who used this as part of his material, was the funniest of the evening and I can remember going back downstairs after the show and being amazed that Gemma, Charlene and Bumblebee were still there waiting for us. (apparently they couldn’t get into the show – advanced tickets ladies! I did warn you!)
The Comedy Pub’s website promises a late night of disco, karaoke and dancing but it was only Charlie, Micky and I who would descend to the abandoned bar downstairs where no-one was dancing and there was no sign of karaoke. Two or three Gin and Tonics later, one lost key later and one manly bro-hug from Charlie later, I was more than happy to take Micky up on his offer of a sofa for the night. All we had to do was cope with the mad Columbian on the Central Line and cook up our own scrambled eggs…………never defeated, we’ll fight ‘til the game is won!
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited  = 148
Laugh? = Well not at the comics anyway. Watching Charlene drink a pint of ale, now that was worth seeing.

Is it wise to go on a pub crawl after a brewery visit? = Yes, of course. Did you really expect a different answer?
Next Stop = Water Works

1 comment:

  1. "with Ed claiming he was coming all week until crunch time when he bailed out with a pitiful excuse"

    I don't think any of that statement is true. :)

    I imagine I will be back on tour next week, can't have Charlie overtaking me after all!