Beer and Loathing: Scott Mills is a Bitch
Wibbley Wobbley, Surrey Quays
For thousands of years Homo sapiens have been searching for means of escaping their violent, brutal, and often short lives. Methods have ranged from reading a good book to exploring the deepest regions of the darkest K holes. These have appealed to different people at different times and met with varying levels of success and popularity. It’s no secret that personal preference comes into how effective the mode of escapism you’re partaking in is. For example, back in the day, the Chinese were bang on the opium. Couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Whereas 80s lawyers were hoovering up cocaine at a rate that put real strain on Latin America. Different modes of escape for different blokes. My personal indulgences are getting drunk on beer or knobbing about on boats pretending I am a pirate. For the longest time I was satisfied with both of these things as separate entities bringing me joy in their own separate ways. But upon discovery of the Wibbley Wobbley in Surrey Quays the two were finally combined and now I can be as happy as an 18th century Chinese opium addict or a wide-eyed high-flying prosecutor from 1985.
As you may have guessed then, the Wibbley Wobbley is a pub in a boat. Admittedly it is stationary, but it makes up for this by living up to its name and wobbling all over the fucking place. It’s an ex-ferry or something but just small enough to really move about if a large group comes on board. This means that the looks you get from the regulars as you come in are even more pronounced than usual because you have literally made the whole pub move about upon entry. Which is sick.
It is a ridiculous place; you feel that such a novelty pub shouldn’t have regulars but that’s all there seems to be here. Angry eyes asking “why have you come to my ludicrous floating pub?” The bar maid is about 80 and looks pissed off and confused every time you order a drink, which is a nice touch. There are other olde worldy elements to the Wibbley Wobbley too. Stuff I thought didn’t happen anywhere outside of fairy tales (fairy tales about pubs). There is a ship’s/pub cat with its own section in the bar with a scratching post and a bed. There are premade sandwiches clingfilmed, sadly waiting on the bar to be bought. I was actually quite hungry and thought about buying them but then there weren’t any obvious prices about so I didn’t attempt to purchase them incase it turned out it was the old bar woman’s lunch or something and the patrons all turned on us.
What’s extra specially ridiculous about this place is that it has a beer garden, not on the shore outside the boat, but on a pontoon covered with astroturf adjacent to it. And if the boat itself is named the Wibbley Wobbley the beer garden should be named “Wibbley Wobbley 2 : Dangerously Fucking Wobbley.” It’s a bloody treat though, sitting amongst the scum lapping up against the side of the greenland dock and the canal boats that are the Wibbley Wobbley’s neighbours. You can sit in the evening sun and admire the swans stained green and black from all the miscellaneous pollutants floating on the top of the water as the shard glints away in the background.
Not only this but you get to eavesdrop on geniune Surrey Quays locals as they describe how much sex they haven’t been having recently. This was a real conversation heard by my pub mate as we got him a drink at the bar. I have changed the names of the people involved to protect their anonymity and also because I didn’t know them in the first place.
Philip (A camp man in his late 50s that we can pretty safely assume is a homosexual): I haven’t been laid in ages.
Doris (a woman who is at least 80, possibly older): Oh that’s a shame dear, no boys want to suck your cock?
Phil: No it’s not like it used to be, I don’t know where they’ve all gone.
Doris: Well if it makes you feel any better I haven’t had any in a while either, nothing has been in there for a long time.
Phil: Can’t you just pop something up there yourself?
Doris: Well I could but it’s not the same.
Phil: You want to get one of those special condoms that they have in the gents with all the ribs and bobbles.
Doris: Oh yes that might be fun putting up my fanny.
Phil: Or up your bum!
Doris: *loud gasp* I’m not that sort of girl!
We saw some people that were in their early thirties and the hipst-o-meter started giving a reading but I think it was only because it had spent so long around 80 year olds who didn’t see the funny side of getting drunk on a boat. There are obviously going to be a fairly large contingent of city workers in Super Dry and Abercrombie doing the rounds as this is where they all live but I don’t necessarily think that’s anything special. There might be a rogue kewl kid banker somewhere though.
You can see the two tallest buildings in London from here. You can see the Thames whilst being on a separate body of water, something I had previously only dreamed about. There’s a range of raucous birds about, like herons and cormorants and other winged mentals that Bill Bailey would lose his shit over. Surrey Quays is alright for a general nosey about too. There’s a cinema, a Pizza Hut and a sailing club, on top of other less important amentities.
£3.40 for a lager beer doesn’t seem reasonable enough to warrant a ten out of ten does it? No. Normally it would’t be. That is, I think, standard pint price across London. However, considering the novelty value of the surroundings I reckon it’s awesome value for money. I would have honestly paid a door fee on top of paying £4.50 for every drink just to be on a pub that jolted about and had a ceiling plastered with nautical maps.
Whilst it may lack friendliness it is one of the most genuine pubs I have been in for ages. The vibes in here are proper old man regular boozer vibes. It’s as if they’ve taken the clientele and staff from a pub that the likes of you and I wouldn’t dare stray into on account of how unwelcome we’ll feel there and put it onto a fairground ride of a pub where you’re going to spend so much time wandering about having the sickest time that you forget to feel intimidated by the man with a glass eye curling his lip at you in the corner. Also quick shout out to the toilet stairs. The loos are on the top deck and the stairs to them are honestly the steepest you can have a set of stairs before they officially become a ladder. Is this a good idea in an establishment whose primary function is to get people drunk? No. Is this a good idea in an establishment whose primary function is to get people drunk AND wobbles the fuck about every time a new person enters it? Fuck no. I would not be surprised if the next time we visit there are wreaths of flowers at the bottom of the stairs in remembrance of some pissed bloke who stacked it.
The Tower Tavern, Marylebone?
Good news, we finally found out where the BT tower is! Bad news, when we got there we didn’t know where we were. I’m saying Marylebone because we walked north for a while and got to Great Portland Street tube station. But it was quite a while and in central you don’t have to walk far to enter an area with a new name. Other bad news includes the tower not being a stand alone structure, it rises up from within some rubbish 60s office block. And you aren’t allowed to go up it. I thought there was a restaurant up there, but apparently the IRA blew it up then nobody bothered to re-build it. Lazy.
So in a haze of disappointment and mild hunger we crossed the road to the Tower Tavern, a pub with the BT tower on its hanging sign and, as far as we were concerned, the next best thing to going up the BT tower. It said that they did food, and whilst the outside looked like the sort of spine chillingly ugly tile clad local’s pub you’d find on a tumbledown 1960s piss stained estate somewhere, it had been refurbed inside so maybe the food would be alright. Inside was a little all over the place. Like it had been refurbished without a huge budget or any real artistic direction from anyone. The food menu was good though, and they had a half decent range of beer in the fridge and on the pumps. My mate got some lunch and another pal and I got this special Wednesday deal where you got 2lbs of special spicy chicken wings for £5. I bought £5 worth of chicken wings then got asked after I paid if I realised that I had bought 1lb of wings because it was Thursday not Wednesday and was I aware of that? Obviously I had to feign that I was aware of that and that I only wanted 1lb. Nobody wants to seem like they don’t know what day it is, wandering about getting drunk and buying chicken wings near tall buildings.
We went to sit down outside because it wasn’t raining. There was a Banksy piece opposite the pub of a rat who had seemingly written “IF GRAFFITI CHANGED ANYTHING IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL” on the wall. Very subversive Mr Banksy, because it is illegal, isn’t it? So that means it does change things? You are too sly. Thank God somebody has put a huge piece of thick perspex over such a politically charged art work so that generations can see it for years to come and so that the property value of the cornershop it has been sprayed upon can treble.
Not only did we get to view this contempory urban artwork in all its laminated glory but we also got to watch hundreds of people go past at speed on fold up bikes, because why cycle to work when you can get the tube and then cycle from the tube to work!? And on top of those two excitement pythons we were also sitting next to Scott Mills of BBC Radio 1 fame. He was, to my pub mates’ glee, bitching loudly about basically everybody that works at Radio 1. I don’t really listen to the radio and don’t really know who Scott Mills is, so didn’t really care. But for those of you who do, here are the highlights of the bitching coming from the table next door:
- Chris Moyles is being resoundly beaten every morning by Dave Berry’s morning show on Capital FM. He’s lost it basically.
- Getting a TV show makes you a wanker.
- Greg James is boring.
- Greg James was not ready for the show he currently presents.
- Scott Mills is not a huge fan of Greg James.
- Robbie Williams once asked why the fuck Scott Mills was calling him when Scott Mills called him at 8.20 in the morning.
- Scott Mills can’t remember much from last year’s Radio One Big Weekend.
And other assorted shit that I can’t remember, sorry. As we left there was even a bloke across the street papping their 4 strong team of bitching BBC lanyard sporting wine drinkers. That paparazzo must’ve been having a slow day, nothing to shoot in the whole of London but a Radio One DJ and his team getting on the lash outside a semi-rubbish pub. Although, what do I know? This is Mint after all, not Heat.
It would be super low, but then there was that brush with celebrity and also the girl who took our plates at the end looked like she knew what we was doing when it came to dressing herself. Plus after having a national radio DJ photographed drinking glamourously outside it nearby a table of 3 extremely handsome young men it may well become central London’s coolest new boozer.
I like this part of London because I don’t know where I am and so every street is exploring. Also, there are always interesting statues and blue plaques about because 18th century rich people built these ends and then lived here. There is the mighty tower of BT too, but it is really difficult to view and admire from the bottom, which is annoying. And the 1960s seem to have played a lead role in the construction of every building immediately adjacent to it. So they are all jank, espesh the Tower Tavern. Lose some points for that.
Had the wings deal actually been on it would have been crazy because, as it stood, one pound of wings was enough to comfortably feed three of us. Fuck knows what two pounds would have been like. Double the amount I guess.
I don’t think any of us were really vibing out on the inside or outside. It wasn’t exactly welcoming and I got a strange regular’s buzz in there. There was some lone mid 40s dude propping up the bar complaining to the bar maid about being hungover. And this was at like 4.30pm. You only go to the bar hungover at 4.30pm on your laz if you’re a primo joker, and unfortunately past the age of 40 you are too old for jokes such as those. You pass from primo joker territory into solitary alcoholic territory. A land full of dragons, poverty and judgemental looks from twenty-somethings hungry for chicken wings.
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