Beer and Loathing, Jank Pub Special
The Tudor Rose, just off Baker Street
In most run down areas of small-ish shit hole towns in the UK that half of you reading this will probably originate from there will be a very particular type of grim pub. The owners will have done nothing interesting or innovative with the pub that they’ve inherited from the 19th century. All the period fittings will still be there but no effort is made to draw attention to them and somebody has screwed a flat screen TV from Argos onto the original baroque wooden mantle piece and is showing the fucking darts or Dancing On sodding Ice or something equally soul destroying. The only people in these type of pubs, other than the landlords who are constantly bitching about the decline of the pub industry to the Daily fucking Express, are a few die hard regulars who are happy to pay through the nose for shit they could get in a ‘spoons because they know the landlord and their photo is on the community noticeboard in one corner. This photo is somehow of them having an amazing night in the pub even though how the pub ever conjured up this alledged amazing night is past you.
These pubs exist outside of London for sure. And to be fair in some of the outer suburbs of Londz as well. But surely not inside the realms of the Circle Line? Surely the rent on buildings in parts of London this gentrified means that landlords actually cannot afford to sit back and stare at their John Smiths taps waiting for passing custom/the return of their regulars? Surely pubs like those described above died out in the 90s when people woke up and realised that there are actually other options than drinking in the most depressing places in the world?
Well “surely?” a bunch of shit. The fact of the matter is that The Tudor Rose is one of these anachronisms and yet it is only a couple of streets away from the grandeuer of the American Embassy. From the outside it actually looks quite tasteful and as if it might contain a recently refurbed old school boozer. Nah, not the case. Upon entry into the building we were greeted by a near empty pub and lights turned up so high that it was actually brighter in here than it was outside. We had entered circa 3pm on a Thursday, so fair enough no pub can be expected to be Mental McBusy but I got the distinct impression that this was about as vibetastic as it ever got in The Tudor Rose.
Seating wise you could sit on any number of stools lining the edge of the pub, or on a table right in the middle of the pub really far away from any other table. It was a little island of seating option in an otherwise vast sea of empty floor. This island was never going to be the table we chose as life was awkward enough from the moment of entry. The landlord and lady had their eyes well on us as we stepped through the door, and these were angry eyes. “What are they doing here? What the fuck do they want? Toilets are for customer use only. I hope these little shits know that. Why is the little one laughing and saying ‘jokes’ and taking photos of all the gross things in our beloved pub?” Those were the statements their beady untrusting eyes were making at us. We didn’t care though because the only other patrons in the pub looked to be fairly well off and as confused as us. There seemed to be no stab artists or other ruffians in the pub so I felt comfortable enough to openly photograph the variety of rofls the pub contained. Including the fibre optic christmas tree. So horrible it was almost rad.
We were hungry pandas so decided to sample the culinary treats The Tudor Rose had to offer and asked for a menu. This was a brown sauce stained laminated affair that listed delights such as egg mayo rolls and spam fritters and other things that pubs these days shouldn’t really be offering unironically. I settled for bacon, egg and chips, which isn’t even really a meal. And my pub mate decided to take his chances with the burger. Once our order had been received by the landlady she gave an audible tut, took our dollar dollar bills and fucking stomped upstairs in a tizz because she was clearly the one who had to go and cook these gastronomic labours of love.
We took seats by the open fire, which was honestly quite homely, the only thing ruining it was the wilting flowers in a 1970s watering can (honestly, what the fuck) and the TV nailed to the wall above us churning out hits from the Smooth Radio freeview channel. Clearly the pub’s owners are aware that most of their clientèle are going to be in here on their own staring into their pint and crying so to distract them from that there was a lovely stack of dentist waiting room calibre free magazines. You know the sort, “Women’s Own”, “Take a break”, “Women’s break time nice times”, “Now that’s what I call Women” and then a range of magazines ostensibly about the local area but in fact are just catalogues of estate agent adverts. The latter were the publications we settled upon whilst waiting for our food and played a game called “I describe how many bedrooms and bathrooms and other shit the house has and where it is and junk and then you have to guess how much it’s going for” admittedly the name isn’t very catchy but it’s a new game and I’m sure it will get rebranded once it becomes more mainstream. Anyway, because of where we were this game was loads of fun. The house prices in this part of London are cocks and it makes the game quite a challenge. The biggest victory was won by my opponent who read the description of a four bedroom flat and I guessed wrong until I gave up. The answer was £12,000,000. The world baffles me.
So our food turns up. Considering this food wasn’t particularly cheap you would have hoped some fine ingredients would have gone into its creation, but instead it looked like the bacon, burger and chips that went into our meals were bought from the bargain bin of a particularly shabby Iceland. I couldn’t tell where the eggs were from but they didn’t taste free range. They tasted like poultry tears. On top of this the presentation/overall cooking was a little bit like when you went round your mate’s house when you were a kid and their mum gave you a meal that was just a bit sub par because it was after school and she was rushed. But you couldn’t say anything, obviously, because not only are you polite but because you are 8 and at that age kids are fucking defensive about their mums and homes in general. I remember bloodying some cunt’s nose at my eighth birthday sleepover because he said the party bags my mum had made were shit.
Whilst tucking into our plate of memories though there was an altercation across the pub from us. A man that I can only describe as “pretending to be blind” had come in and had tried to walk up the stairs only to be stopped by the landlord. It turned out that he wanted to used the loo. However there were about 4 big signs stating that the loos (which were downstairs not upstairs) were very much for customer use only. Now, because this strange chap had wandered in off the streets wearing those big clunky black blind person shades (but no blind person cane) and was being really weird I think the landlord probably got a bit thrown and so let him go to the loo. This is a small sacrifice to make in order to save oneself from the awkwardness of forcing a disabled person to wet themselves.
20 minutes later when we are ready to go, I need the loo. Lo’ and behold crazy ginger possibly blind guy is still in the toilets, bent over the sink with both hot and cold taps running and is very quickly taking alternating sips from both. The hot tap must’ve been producing some fairly bloody hot water because I could see the steam eminating from the sink. Also I feel I need to stress the speed at which he was doing this, when I first walked into the room I could only see the back of him and thought he had fallen head first into the sink and was having an epileptic fit. It was, to date, the most off putting thing that has ever happened near me whilst trying to piss.
The other people in the pub were very presentable and normal looking and generally out of place. I think that’s because the only people who live in this area are normal humans and the run down Margate rejects that ran the pub are the actual out of place ones. No hipsters to speak of though.
A good place for a pub to be if you do something cool with your pub. You know what? You’re right next to fucking Baker Street, make it vaguely Sherlock Holmes themed, but classily so, and bobs your uncle people will come drink in there. This is not a good location for the run down sad inducing facility these guys are running. Somewhere more depressing would be a good location for that, lets sayyyyy Dungeness. That’s bleak as all hell.
Very expensive considering that all that was on offer was rubbishness. I’m sure the gastropubs up the road that knew what the fuck they were doing would have charged us more, but honestly? Not that much more. This was an expensive bad time.
The man who ran this pub looked so sad, he kept looking up at the door in the vague hope that his pub would fill up with people who just wanted to have a jank pint of Fosters and sit by the open fire and look through the grimy stained glass windows and tuck into one of his wife’s finest spam fritters. His sadness filled me with sadness. Well, actually, no it didn’t, it incensed me with rage and I wanted to go up to him and explain why his business model was outdated and that the hospitality industry has changed and that time waits for no man. But then I got distracted by that fake blind dude and his lust for boiling hot water in his mouth.
The Charlie Chaplin, Elephant and Castle
Even if you haven’t been to this pub, which absurd amounts of people seem to have done, you will have probably clocked it as you got the bus through Elephant and thought to yourself “Oh my days. That looks like the worst.” It’s certainly what I have thought over the years and when trying to think of a shit pub to go and review (because whenever I go to pubs that I really enjoy the review just turns into a list of craft beers punctuated by the word ‘rad’) The Charlie Chaplin immediately sprung to mind.
Nestled in between the fortress of dubstep and gurning that is the Coronet Theatre and the citadel of bowling and 97p Stores that is Elephant and Castle shopping centre, The Charlie Chaplin is a three story 1960s affair with a two story cutout of Chaplin standing contemplatively. Sort of as if he is thinking “Why am I on the side of this car crash of a pub?”.
The second floor is glass-fronted and has a large sign made up of lots of A4 sheets of paper with single letters printed on them in size 95 declaring that Monday night is student night and that you can hire the upstairs. Now, I can’t see that clearly into the upstairs room, and please correct me if you have hired it out and had the best time but, from what I can make out, it is a dust-covered room full of broken chairs and dead wasps. Why you would want to hire this is beyond me.
As it happens, I went on a Monday night as it struck me that this would be the least dire night of the week, with all that youthful drunken blood in the building surely the pub would take on a character lightyears away from the picture so many friends had painted for me, that of a wooden clad depression centre where the working class come to drink away the last of their years in front of dated decor in absolute silence.
Well, this picture was at least wrong in one sense. It wasn’t bloody silent.
I arrived a good deal earlier than my fellow pubnaut and used this time to zen out in my 60s throwback wood and lino surroundings. However, like he has ruined so much in recent years, Jason Derulo ruined this for me. His warblings were being blasted out at, what I am going to guess was, 150 million decibels. The entire soundtrack of the pub needs commenting upon, because after about 9 Derulo tracks, the four Blackthorn drinking pensioners and I were treated to something special. Being played here, in these sombre and unironic surroundings I heard these songs for what they were, shit one hit wonders from the nineties. However I can guarantee that if I were in Catch or the Macbeth or somewhere like that, pissed out my head, and a DJ played the exact same playlist I would have danced hard to each one and probably shouted “TUUNE” or something cringe whenever one started.
I was actually so intimidated by this loud overly Christmassed pub with its dodgy geezer bloke sitting in the corner eyeing me up every time I snuck off to take a photo of the mental Father Christmas diorama at the back of the building that I tried to pre-warn my tardy co-pubber that this wasn’t a pub for young ladies and that we should go somewhere else. There was a number code lock for the girl’s loos for Christ’s sake. She, however, demanded that the jokes must go on and we’d just have to fight through the awkwardness/attempted shankings. And do you know what? I’m glad we did, because it turned out all right.
First of all, some people turned up. Loud pool playing spice boy chino wankers from God knows where. But they added a new dimension to the pub that the lonely bloke with the glass eye in front of the televised dart’s finals just wasn’t offering. With these lads on tour providing the ‘noise and something to generally look at’, my friend and I could wander around the pub as we pleased looking at all the jank things. This jankerie included but was not limited to:
An inexplicable sandwich bar in one corner of the pub that did not look like it had ever been used.
The extension of the Charlie Chaplin theme that was started on the front of the building in the form of about 9 figurines of Chappers hidden around the pub and gaudy, badly made prints sparsely dotted about the walls.
The Santa exhibition thing I mentioned earlier, complete with a mini table football set that could not possibly have been used.
A normal sized fake Christmas tree and fake presents on a table so high that the presents were almost chest height and the tree touched the ceiling.
A sign written in almost indecipherable Millwall geezer language dissuading the people inside the pub from making noise upon exiting.
Some 20p jelly bean/mini egg vending machines that had clearly never been cleaned/used judging from the thick layers of grime on the inside of the glass.
Blackthorn on draught.
I think because we were behaving a bit better than the noisy Banter Mountain inhabitants that had entered the pub after us we were sort of welcomed by the regulars and bar staff and ended up sitting at the bar like one of the natives (N.B this welcome was purely spiritual and not verbal and I may have actually imagined it). After a while something weird started happening. Everybody started smoking. Everyone at the bar, the people behind the bar, not the spice boys because they had gone home, but everyone else. Then a cat and a puppy appeared out of nowhere and started commiting international acts of mischief around the pub to the amusement of the regulars/bemusement of us. Whilst I don’t smoke my pal did and the very irregularity of it excited me into having a G.R.8 time.
To cap all this excitement off the mystery of the smokefilled law breaking pub was solved as we tried to leave the building and found the front door bolted shut. Somehow we had enamoured ourselves to these pub bound folk so succesfully that they had invited us to a lock in. And all of this was done without us communicating with any of them in any way at all. Not even eye contact. Truly, Elephant and Castle is a magical place.
This is one of those ratings where I didn’t see any but some must have come in here at some point. Not least because so many people in the past have warned me not to go there based on their prior experiences. Plus it is right next to LCC and right next to Corsica Studios. I imagine that enough kids have wondered in there planning to have a pre-Off Modern booze up only to be scared into leaving after a single pint. At the same time though, just because many have been in here at some point doesn’t mean you will see any in here when you go. If this was the ‘people who look like extras out of Only Fools And Horses-o-meter’ the pub would get ten out of ten though.
Elephant and Castle is the transport hub of South London and I imagine many of us are regularly in it, but it isn’t a destination. It’s as grim as a bag of bastards and holds the accolade of containing the only underpass in the world that I have gotten lost in every single fucking time I have attempted to use it. In conclusion then, easy to get to, easy to leave, shit to be in.
£7 for two doubles and mixer isn’t awful. I had a pint of Stella and can’t remember how much it was because I was too busy freaking out about how ridiculously shit the interior of the pub was. To be honest, to warrant how haggard the Charlie Chaplin is they would actually have to be paying you to drink in there.
After a few drinks the God awful soundtrack actually became endearing and was, if anything, a boon to the experience as a whole. The novelty of seeing people surrepticiously smoking indoors honestly made my mood shoot up, I spent the evening from that point onward feeling part of a secret community of alcoholics who knew about this pub and felt like I too was giving The Man’ the finger by enjoying their second hand fumes. Howevs, It is still the jankest pub in the world and the people inside it are jank and all the beer is jank and all the decor is jank and if I had to rename it I would call it The Jankenstein Arms. Oh and there is a fucking securicode lock on the door of the fucking ladies toilets. What!?
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