Friday, 20 November 2015

The two best pubs so far.

Last night my shit pub odyssey continued. As you know, I love shit pubs. Good shit pubs that is and last night I found two of them. The first was thanks to a tip off and boy oh boy did it deliver. It's hard to fault the Hollydale Tavern in Peckham. It's what all good shit pubs should be - a youth club for divorced men. It has everything - pool table, dart board, sport on TV, an Irish landlord who manages to be both friendly and threatening.

One thing it did lack was women. Not one of them. I felt like I was in a gay club or the boardroom of a FTSE 100 company. Take that satire patriarchy! I would like to make it clear to the patriarchy that that was just a good natured dig and as a white man I'd like it noted that I am currently available for employment.

But who would want to employed at a time like this? At a time when there are non Weatherspoons affiliated pubs like the Hollydale Tavern serving beer for less than £3 a pint! I have half a mind to call my fictional secretary, tell her to cancel all my appointments and officially hibernate there for the winter. The landlord seemed to know everyone by name. With what looked like only a few regulars I'm sure it wouldn't take me long to become one of the gang. Sure, I didn't have the paint splattered work clothes that most of them seemed to have on but I'll bet I could arrange some. Perhaps, being an actor, I could go for a fitting at Angels Costumiers for my outfit and that could form the basis of the first anecdote I tell the lads. Maybe not.

The Hollydale is a real beaut though. There's a board instructing anyone thinking of watching a football game for free that they must buy at least one drink per half. There's another board advertising a Beatles and Elvis night (as if one wasn't enough) and a final board announcing filled rolls for sale. No empty bread rolls here. No, at the Hollydale they'll actually fill them with food creating what one can only assume is something resembling a sandwich.

I love this place so much that I almost feel like finishing my quest before it's really got going. But, no. As long as London has new sticky floors to walk on and new doors to open onto unwelcoming rooms then it is my duty to carry on. And so I did. Up the road to Nunhead and the Man of Kent.

I wrote a derogatory post about Nunhead a couple of years ago. My one previous trip there didn't go particularly well as I only saw five people and every single one of them appeared to be on crack cocaine. This one was a lot better. Perhaps they're warding off full gentrification by sending out the junkies on Saturday mornings when middle class couples are shopping for their first flat. Nunhead seems to be one of those places in London which absolutely no one has heard of. If that means it can hold on to boozers like the Man of Kent then long may it continue.

The Man of Kent is a little more cosy than the Hollydale, which had a large enough area in the middle for a badminton court whilst not having the sort of clientele who'd want to play badminton. I have never, in London, been to a pub quite like the Man of Kent. It seemed to me more like it belonged in Huddersfield or the early scenes of In The Name of the Father. The first thing you notice when you walk through the door is the strong stench of farts. This is a place for men with a Gregg's based diet. Pubs like this should be exempt from the smoking ban. Cigarette smoke serves a purpose. Not only does it mask the smell of poor digestion but it adds a sort of grim glamour. Whilst in there it occurred to me that it may well be the smoking ban which was the death knell for so many of these old boozers. If you're sat in one of these joints, drinking your eighth Carling and filling out a betting slip to gamble your daughter's school trip money on an American horse race then what's the point of forcing you to make one good life choice? You might as well go the whole hog and puff on a Mayfair.

I like the Man of Kent. Irish and very much focussed around three of my favourite things - drinking, gambling (there is racing on the tv and Ladbroke slips by the bar) and reading. Yes, it has a couple of well stocked book shelves and as long as they're not accompanied by board games then I don't have a problem with that.

I think I may have caught this pub on it's death bed though. There were very worrying signs of a forthcoming refurb. In fact, so fitting of my brief were both these pubs that I'd be very surprised if they lasted the weekend. Get there while you can!

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