Beer and Loathing: Location, Location, Location.

Categorised as GENERAL.

Hamilton Hall, Liverpool Street 

I bet you didn’t even know this pub had a name, man. I guarantee you refer to it as “Liverpool Street ‘spoons” or even “London Liverpool Street ‘spoons” if you are one of those people that inexplicably refer to the station by its full name as if you’re really familiar with some other Liverpool Street Station. But yes, this is the nearest ‘spoons to East and very oft the nearest pub to where you have to meet a mate before going out in East so I am fairly certain many people reading this will know the place intimately. For those of you who don’t here is my attempt at a description; imagine a baroque 18th century banqueting room. Can you see it? Look at all the huge mirrors and how cherubim are painted on everything for some reason. Now take out all the Jacobites eating live quails and vomiting poetry and replace them with pissed up East Anglians waiting for a train to King’s Lynn. Basically that. Oh and put a bar in it.

We’ve been through this enough times now to know what to expect in each and every ‘spoons. Curry club, strange semi-racist fascination with real ale, bar stools filled with the lowest common social denominator and multi-national bar staff who love IDing people so much they wear huge badges boasting about how hard they are about to ID you. So this is not the place to dwell on any of those things, this is instead the opportunity to see if locating a ‘spoon’s in an international train station is as much of a game changer as we all want it to be. (BTW, before you start getting all up in my grill claiming that it isn’t an international train station, you can get the train to Harwich and from Harwich you can get a boat to the Netherlands. All for £35. So fuck you.)

First of all, the clientele will be different because you aren’t going to have any regulars. Well not any regulars that live locally anyway, maybe post-work alcoholics that go there on the regs ‘cos the beer be cheap. There are Bankery-Suity McLawyer types in here, but they’re a bit rag tag. They’re like the geezer bankers that aren’t posh enough to be invited to drinkies at  the cocktail bar up the road. So whilst Oscar and Timothy are up the road drinking £9 mojitos, Dave and Smithy who work in the same office but are double hard geezers are in Hamilton Hall drinking Stella and talking about bricks.

Sitting upstairs in Hamilton Hall is the right thing to do. If you sit downstairs you can’t bask in the grandeur quite as well. Also it isn’t as cosy. Low ceilings = cosiness. On the mezzanine that has been artificially put in place by Jamal Dashwayne Wetherspoon (I assume that’s what the J.D. stands for) you can get at least an extra 9 feet closer to it. So you can view all the cretins below as if they were your tipsy flock, in need of much guidance. And at the same time you can study in detail all the gilded wibbly bits the unnecessarily ornate ceiling has to offer.

Conversely sitting down stairs feels cold and isolated. Vulnerable. You get a real sense that the people lording it up above you on the mezzanine are looking down at the top of your head with a mix of pity and revulsion. Or otherwise outright laughing at your misfortune. I know. I have been one of those people.

Hipst-o-meter 4/10

I know I’ve said it before. But I was wrong before. This is the nearest ‘spoons to East. As such it should be hotching with closely shaved heads and Boy London t-shirts. But it really isn’t. I guess they think Hamilton Hall isn’t a cool enough place to be ‘seen’ in. I would be able to back that opinion up with lots of examples of awful humans that I’ve seen gracing its hallowed stools. However the beer is cheap and the ceiling is golden so fuck you, stop being such pretentious cunts and get drunk.

Location 9/10

Wanna go stare at tall buildings? Boom. You’re right next to the city of London. Wanna see a policeman with a gun? Blam. Two minutes walk to the Gherkin, there’s literally two of them there. Wanna be harassed every third step by a bloke claiming to be able to feed you the best curry in London? Klablammo. Brick Lane, thattaway. Wanna go and see whoever Vice said were cool last week and are now being inexplicably sponsored by 55DSL? Kapow. Old Blue is just round the corner. Want to catch a train to Norwich? I can’t think of any more gun noises. But there is a train right there.

Price 9/10

Not only do you get the usual Jamal Dashwayne £2.80 for a pint of ale prices, you’re getting these prices in the city of London. Which is stupid expensive. On top of that, you’re getting these prices in a TRAIN STATION in the City of London. That. Shit. Cray.

Atmosphere 5/10

Semi-bleak sights, such as single fat blokes playing the fruit machines and jank birds from Ipswich pre-drinking before a big night on the tiles in Leicester Sqaure, can be seen here. But don’t let that put you off. All it really does is detract somewhat from a nice and easy pub to drink in when all you want to do is get drunk indoors/quickly see a mate over a pint near some transport links because you have to go home and tie dye some t-shirts and they have to catch a bus to Stoke Newington to see if their phone got handed in at a police station. It hadn’t. Obviously.

 

The White Hart, Ford near Castle Coombe, The Fucking Countryside

Sometimes events outside your control conspire in a manner that means you have to do something outside the M25. It’s despicable and odious and I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody, but occasionally it happens. You need to know how to deal with it when it does. With this in mind, my brother and I decided to take this one for the team and spent the day drinking in a 16th century tavern/mill next to a babbling brook.

The first thing you need to know about the countryside is that there are no shops. You cannot get a 6 cans for £5 deal. You cannot get fried chicken at all hours of the day and night. You certainly can’t buy some essentials in a store that apparently sells everything run by a man called ‘Duke’ at 5 in the morning. The ramifications of this are that everything in the countryside needs to get done between the hours of 8am and 6pm. After this your only option for the purchasement of anything at all is the local pub. Which is both the pillar of the local community and yet inexplicably closing down.

I got the impression that this wasn’t a pillar of the community though. Partly because it was pretty much out on its own in this valley so there was no community to pillarise, and partly because all the people in the pub seemed to be from elsewhere. There was a group of geriatric geordie women who seemed to be eternally having breakfast. A group of people talking about Boris bikes with an intimate knowledge that can only be bred from having to hang around them the whole time. And this weird emo couple with two non-emo toddlers. I assume that they weren’t from round these parts because you don’t get emo adults anywhere outside of Camden. Do you?

So in fact this was more like a holiday retreat for people who enjoyed getting drunk near medieval bridges and cows. This makes me doubt whether the countryside surrounding us was even real. Maybe it was all a scam. It was embarassingly picturesque. The sort of overtly twee surroundings that would make an American say ‘quaint’ so many times that they’d burst a blood vessel in their neck.

Where this twee visage of rural England was perhaps let down slightly was the White Hart’s choice of music. As much as I do enjoy the semi-autobiographical lyrics of ‘whip my hair back and forth’ by that Smith child, I’m not sure if it’s the right soundtrack for a 16th Century pub.

Hipst-o-meter 1/10

Do the odd Adidas and studded belt covered couple I mentioned earlier count? Well they’re all I have. If they had put some effort in and indoctrinated their 5 year olds into the cult of big black fringes then perhaps I could have bumped it up to a two.

Location 10/10

Obnoxiously beautiful setting. Really uncomfortably pretty. Fresh fucking air and that. No buses though. Nor trains. But that’s the difficult choice you have to make. Picturesque idyll or half decent transport links? This is basiaclly the opposite of the last pub. Instead of being able to go anywhere. you can go nowhere.

Price 10/10

All the drinks the bro and I consumed were put on our room number (oh yeah, we stayed the night, long story) so it got paid off in the morning. It was kind of like having free drinks on tap forever. And food. And then our mum paid the tab so it was exactly that.

Atmosphere 8/10

Other than the music faux pas I can’t really complain. I don’t really think there’s any modern music that could be played in a tavern with such dangerous levels of rustic charm. Maybe like some Devonshire folk songs. Sung by Henry VIII. Live. In the corner of the room.

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

Read more Beer and Loathing here.

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