A Welshman On Tour: London

I spent last week in London with work (I was at the Ideal Home Show selling records if you’re interested). I don’t really like London. Not in a ‘oooh, it’s big and scary’ kind of way, more in the sense that it’s just a load of average towns that seem to close at 11pm and are connected by an underground train network. Sort of like an upside down Endor with less Ewoks. They have pubs I’ve not been to and beers I’ve not tried though so game on.

Meg White's teeth glowing service at the Ideal Home Show.

Meg White’s teeth glowing service at the Ideal Home Show (Photo attributed to Matt Jarrett)

My adventure begins on Tuesday in The Windmill in Brixton. It’s basically a social club that puts on gigs. My mate orders a pint of Deuchars. It looks like someone with a urinary infection has pissed in a glass. I stick to Amstel. It tastes of Amstel. The following night we hit the backstreets of Earl’s Court and have a couple in the King’s Head. It’s nice enough, it has more foreign lager than ale but I drink the Westernham Bonfire Bitter. It smells a bit like a rock pool on a summer’s day. In a good way. Kind of fresh. Tastes fuck all like tiny crab. Smooth, zesty and hoppy without tasting of gym towels.

We then go to see Future Of The Left in Heaven (the club, not the mythical playground of the gods). The best they have is cans of San Miguel for about 80 quid each.

Thursday is a quiet pint with food in The Blackbird, again in Earl’s Court. Dark wood, a pie menu, a fair beer selection. Probably full of bankers called Tristan after work. We get there at 9.30. It’s less Tristan-y. I partake in a Fuller’s Discovery. It’s weak and blonde. Not unpleasant but lacking any real personality. Like Jo Whiley.

On Friday we venture south of the river to the paradise known as Tooting. After eating (and 2 pints of Estrella because I fucking love those pint glasses with the writing on), we go to the Wheatsheaf. It’s a bit mad. It has the vibe of a place where 16 year olds celebrate a made up 18th birthday. It’s a big wooden room, there’s bunting, the lighting is switched to ‘smooch’. The man sat opposite me looks like David McAlmont and had a polystyrene carton of chips lying open on his crotch. I’m on the Purity Mad Goose. Not that mad, not that goose. More slightly irritated duck on a mill pond. Not really hoppy, bit yeasty. Beginning to think that London pubs all serve the same generic beer from different pumps.

A cracking visual guide the difference between Brixton and Clapham.

A cracking visual guide the difference between Brixton and Clapham (Photo attributed to Matt Jarrett)

Saturday brings a pizza and Peroni followed by a trek through Clapham High Street. It’s like St Mary Street but with less charm. Yeah, I know. We are on a mission to find The Windmill (yep, another one). It’s on the common and would be great if everyone in it didn’t think they were Edwardian hipsters. Still, it had a decent array of beers. It was also 738 degrees so we were thirsty. I plumped for a pint of Young’s Special. It said ‘chocolate, orange & spicy’, I was expecting dessert in a glass, it was a deliberate effort to deblandify (new word). Tasted tits all of orange but did have the cloying chocolate thing you get at the back of your throat on Christmas Day. I needed a nap and some board games.

No way I could drink more than one so had a Meantime London Pale Ale next. Smelled and tasted like the 2p beer bottle sweets from the 80s. Took me ages to work that out. I’d forgotten they existed. I never thought they smelled or tasted of beer. Weird. We made our way back down Clapham High Street after that. It was half past midnight. It was like Tripoli but with a slightly higher threat of random violence. I ended up in someone’s house drinking Crabbies. It was hideous. Obviously.

I’m glad to be back in Wales.

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