Beer and Loathing Christmas Special
So, I imagine many of you will probably be heading back somewhere with a fully stocked fridge and constant hot water for Christmas. This often entails a long and arduous journey, on which you may want to drink a delicious beer to dull the pain and stress of moving great distances. With this in mind I have documented the pitfalls, trip wires and watered down pints of Carlsberg that you may face on your beer drenched trip back to your place of origin.
The Bridge, Gatwick Airport
I feel like I know the eateries of Gatwick’s shopping village better than many because I am so regularly bloody there. This isn’t because I’m Sir Timothy Jetset: King Of Going on Holiday, but rather because I have family who live abroad and spent 6 months in an Eastern European library desperately trying to earn a degree that one time. Couple this with an apparent inability to get to airports any later than 4 hours before my plane is due to leave the tarmac and you are left with a young man who knows the boozers that Gatwick has to offer with some intimacy.
The standard choice made by most English passing through the Gatwick Village is The Flying Horse, a Wetherspoon’s pub on the second floor that labours under no pretences about the fact that it is in an airport. It doesn’t have any of the deals you would find in self respecting Wetherspoons’ anywhere else but still attracts the same crowd of slightly shabby EDL members that swell the ranks of the flying horse’s sister pubs across our once great nation. However, I did not enter the Flying Horse because this would be the obvious option, and far be it from me to ever take the obvious option. Also, the Flying Horse was full and had a 40 minutes wait for a table.
Thus I defiantly strode across the mezzanine towards The Bridge eating house and bar. The Bridge has a very innoffensive B&Q-sample-kitchen vibe going on that draws the sort of person in who is not looking to have a bad time but also doesn’t want to have too memorable a time because they are about to go on holiday and that is where the memories shall be created. The draught taps had boring shit on them like Grolsh and Carling and whatever, I don’t care. In the fridge though they had Brooklyn lager. Sweet. Shit. I was hungover too and didn’t want to drink at all but Brooklyn lager would sort it all out. Except it didn’t.
I was so hungover that the Brooklyn lager just tasted like normal beer. Fuck knows what normal beer would have tasted like had I taken the risk. And the malaysian chilli satay burger I ordered and subsequently ate turned out to be the catalyst for the transition between “Would you look at that, I have awoken with no hangover. Hurrah.” to “Ohsweetjesusno here he is.” This means that my time spent in The Bridge was a mildly unpleasant one, but at least I had an incredible view of the runway and all the planes landing.
Jokes! This was my view.
There was something I wondered about as I clutched my face in pain whilst my hangover took full hold. All the staff were European imports of one sort or another, which is obviously fine. I am very proud of people wanting to come and work in the UK, it’s a huge compliment to the nation that people should want to boost our economy with their hardwork (see, I’m not racist). However, they were working in the airport that I ‘m presuming they landed in. Whilst obviously this wasn’t what happened, it’s tempting to think that they got off the plane and were like “right. better get a job” and started handing out CVs before they’d even gotten out the doors of the airport with their luggage. Huge initiative on their part, but I fear that they’re missing out on seeing a large chunk of Britain’s rich culture by spending every day in the airport. Although Britain’s rich culture is arguably rich in nonsense and nothing else so maybe this is a deliberate decision on their part.
No, no, no, not really. You’re as likely to see trendophiles here as any place that has a huge amount of people passing through it I suppose. I didn’t see any though. I just saw a bunch of Spanish kids in their shiny puffa jackets. Purple for the girls; black for the boys. Fur rims all round. Where do they get those from? They’re fucking repulsive.
It’s in Gatwick Airport, man.
Expensive but reasonable considering you’re in an Airport. I would describe their prices as “Central London City Boy Gastro-Pub.” But it’s all about the experience, isn’t it. And I was certainly having slightly less of shit time than the people sitting on rows of blue benches outside staring gormlessly at the departures board.
If you craned your neck just right and blocked out exterior airporty noises you could pretend you were in a modern boozer in Fulham or somewhere civilised like that. But you can’t block out the smell of the airport, you know, that odd cleaning chemical smell? I can’t really describe it. Sometimes I will be somewhere and be like “Oh my god it smells like airport” and people I’m with will be like “What the fuck are you on about” and I’ll be like “Smell. It smells like airports.” Yeah? Well that smell. This pub smells like airports. I don’t know if thats a good or bad thing though so I’ll chuck you a 5. Live with it.
A Relatively Small Plane, The Sky
As is so often the outcome of a trip to Gatwick Airport, I find myself on an aeroplane. There is a theory that goes along the lines of “You get drunker on planes because of the altitude and recycled fake air and shit.” It’s what gets chavs so drunk on their way to Marbella as they drink their duty free purchases on the plane because they are massive idiots/alcoholics. Also, I suppose it’s the 2 for £22 deals on litre sized bottles of spirits tempting them into a bout of pre-drinking so foolhardy it leaves them with a flight ban after they throw up in the queue to passport control upon arrival (true story).
However, that’s on flights to club rep infested destinations encrusting the Mediterranean. I am going to a twee rock jutting out of the atlantic near France that is for some reason part of the UK. However, the island in question asserts its slight seperation from the UK by doing weird things like having one pound notes with the Queen on the back rocking a really 80s haircut. This means that the clientele of this aerial pub are far more refined and prone to buying antique furniture than their Kappa wearing cousins on planes to Ibiza. They smell like lavender and are all either between the ages of 35-95 or 3-12. There are no teenagers on this flight. There are no young adults or whatever we’re calling ourselves these days.
Upon sitting myself down I had decided I was actually not going to drink any beers on the plane. A – Because buying beers on planes costs the same as in clubs frequented by Prince Harry; and B – I feared that I would be the only one on the plane drinking because it is 3pm and the flight is only fucking 45 minutes long. To enlighten you as to why that might be a problem, think about this, the plane takes around 15 minutes after take off to get to a cruising height where you can unfasten your seatbelt. Ten minutes into that the steward comes round with that cabinet on wheels thing. About ten minutes after that you have to refasten your seatbelt because the plane is about to land. This barely gives you time to drink your beer with any suggestion of modicum. And you don’t want to leave the plane clutching a can of Stella because that would look ridiculously uncouth. Especially on an island where not having a pleasant little bowl of pot pourri in your kitchen window can land you with an ASBO.
However, as the plane stood on the runway doing nothing for whatever reason planes stand on the runway doing nothing for, I heard two gents behind me discussing in very curt English the beverage choices they had on offer. “Do you know what, old chap? I might go for a can of the London Pride” “Might well join you, old bean, might well join you”. They both had monocles and were dressed in full tweed. Not true. But you get the jist of what they said. I scoffed to myself, ale in a can? You two are blasted fools. It’s not even good ale and it’s in a can and it’s going to be jank. But at least if you two are drinking I can get a can too.
Unfortunately the airline was running a deal where one can was a fiver or two were seven quid. This presented me with a problem as I am a sucker for deals even though I was fully aware that there was no time to down two cans comfortably in what could only ever amount to 20 minutes. Even if they were 330ml coke can sized. But then I grew a pair of balls.
I went with baby Stellas because the alcohol content is ever so slightly higher than the London Pride and pear Magners that were my other options and also because I have been drinking Stella out of cans for years and know it to be an unpleasant experience, but at least it isn’t a new unpleasant experience. Better the devil you know etc etc.
As I supped them I tried to think of how my usual pub wants and needs were being met by this strange and, lets face it, rubbish, flying pub. People watching was not good because you can’t really see the people in front or behind you, I didn’t have anybody sitting in the seat next to me and across the aisle was a mother and 6 year old daughter and no good would come of staring at them. It was a very little plane so word of my social faux pas would probably spread right through the plane like wildfire. The plane was actually so little that it had propellers not jet engines. I thought this was a nice touch and decided it would receive extra points for atmosphere as the old timey vibes the propellers gave out sort of made me feel like I was in the film ‘Casablanca’ or something.
It also turned out that drinking the two baby cans wasn’t hard. But I did start needing a wee the moment the air hostess came round to check I had turned off my phone (I hadn’t hahaha take that society). Fortunately when I got onto solid ground there were toilet facilities and I did a wee and it was all fine.
The hipst-o-meter registered nothing the whole flight. There were some people who had “Bromley Rugby Football Club” written on all their bags and were all wearing matching striped yellow and black boating blazers. But they were all fat and old so couldn’t have been rugby players. I thought that it could be some post ironic 50+year old’s trend that has passed us younglings by but then I thought nah, forget it, yo home to Bel Air.
The sky is one of the raddest places to drink a beer. Alas the best bit about being in the sky was the taking off and looking at England from my little porthole, once I actually got a-sippin’ I was over the sea and it sucked balls. What this pub needed was bigger windows and to not actually fly me to where I had to go but instead just round and round parts of the UK I knew well at relatively low altitudes. But still. The sky, man. Fuck.
It was an expensive place to drink, and I think getting drunk in the sky would be hard. Yeah there’s the whole theory I mentioned earlier but I had touched down within actual seconds of polishing off my second can. Getting drunk on this flight would be a feat on par with the £20 McDonalds challenge. Maybe harder. You only get 4 points at all because there was technically a drinks deal on and I don’t purchase alcohol regularly enough at whatever-hundred-thousand-feet to know what’s reasonable.
Liked the propeller, liked the avant garde seating arrangement and I liked the table service. However the vibes in there were far from happenin’. In fact, I would not have described a single person I saw as ‘having a time’. This may be because the only time I ever saw the majority of people on board was when they were coming to sit down, freshly stressed from Gatwick. Or when they were about to get off the plane, doing that weird half crouch half stand thing as they wait to get out of their seats. Also! Fuck! On my way out an old man got up and as I went past him cracked his head on the overhead locker and I PATTED HIM ON THE HEAD. Like, literally, the moment I finished doing it our eyes met and the look we both gave was one of pure terror and confusion. Why I fucking did it I do not know. Maybe I was a bit sky drunk after all.
Do you have any god awful pubs in mind for Jack to go to at some point in the future? If you do please harass him on twitter @beerandloathinz