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irish rover - st patrick's pub crawl

by Techno

the BITE inner circle meets regularly to catch up over a swift half or two. we have been favouring the hole in the wall of late because of the fine dutch wheat beer they have on tap and the excellent nachos with a choice of toppings - but i digress. sometimes the conversation drifts onto pub crawls, as it did a couple of weeks ago when st patrick's day was nearing. esoteric ideas were banded around before phil (recently freed of his oppressive employment) suggested something both appropriate and a bit special - going to o'neills.

what's that i hear? loads of people go to o'neills for paddy's? why yes they do. and it wouldn't really be a crawl either, unless you went to two. or three.

or ten.

i took a chance on this crawl both with technology and the possibility of losing it by making notes on a palm tungsten. went quite well i thought.

top 'o' tha morning to ya

sunday 16th march - eve of st patrick's day, just creeping up to opening time. gorgeous sun, CIS scottish cup final (rangers -vs- celtic) and the scent of potential carnage in the air. darren and mike silky's workmate jay had expressed an interest in membership of the inner circle. his cv is impeccable - he is not affiliated with any neighbourhood watch programmes, civic societies or any shenanigans designed to reduce the number of pubs and quantity of fun that can be had in one's local area and drinks like a particularly thirsty fish. time would tell...

21 people expressed an interest the crawl, all these were present at some point: darren and anne, phil, graham, mike techno and sarah, loz and yvonne, edi and monica, jenny, victoria, dan the contractor, dan's mate frank. mike silky and clare couldn't make it because they were sorting the house out in preparation for new windows.

o'neills, earls court

punctual as ever, chief instigators darren and anne arrived at 11:40am. met graham at the tube station, did the short walk south along earl's court road to the pub and arrived at 12:01pm (not the first ones there). phil arrived just as the guinness (shamrocks 'n' all) was being poured, loz some ten minutes later. softies and a greasy fry-up for graham who was on call so brought a veritable mini-office of equipment with him. darren swore off fruit machines on st patrick's day last year so he treated himself to a day of nostalgic gambling (and self-berating for missing things where he could have won a fiver).

late as ever, mike and sarah turned up around 1:30pm weighed down with shopping just as the early starters arrived back at the tube station. and so to angel.

although not explicitly laid out anywhere, it is well understood the purpose of the crawl was to acquire as much drinking related merchandise as possible. darren and phil had warmed to the task on the previous evening, each of them sporting a giant hat.

early drinking centre

it's very important to have fruit in your diet

o'neills, mayfair

Dynamism struck again as a quick change of route meant doing mayfair sooner rather than later, so the crawlers got off at green park. nobody thought to bring a street map - either that or we just think we know where we're going. a right turn off piccadilly into the heart of mayfair, another few twists and turns and before too long shepherds market (also home of ye grapes and the kings arms) was found and consequently the pub.

sarah came up with the pub crawl title, mike realised just how much coors / u2 / westlife we'd be subjected to during the day and everyone settled into their guinness and other tipples. sms updates from other people indicating their likely arrival time and things began to fall into the usual routine (i.e. everyone waits for mike to finish his pint). idle chatter regarding the BITE christmas party led to old favourite the streets of london, now sadly closed. "that place went downhill faster than franz klammer" said darren, who narrowly missed out on the new year's honours list for services to the simile.

it's always easier to get back to reverse the journey and return to the tube. south out of the square, left onto piccadilly, walk past graham norton and there you go.

he may not be there now of course.

best feet forward

heated debate

the court

during the planning stages all the 'ec' postcode o'neills were discounted because we figured they'd be shut as nobody goes to the city on a sunday. but just off warren street? to add insult to injury on the day itself the posters proclaimed a super early opening of 8am. typical.

so back we trudged to the court. more guinness and food for sarah and mike (BITE's stance on the it's a scream fry up issue is well documented). jenny and victoria arrived having first walked right past us, introductions done and more drinks bought (enough hats for mike to have one).

making notes

o'neills, euston road

all supped up and a pseudo-random numbered bus ride later the group piled out opposite st pancras station. the old firm game was in full swing by this stage and the celtic fans were making a whole lot of noise, despite their two goal deficit. the guinness t-shirt acquisition attempt failed, but we did get 2 green o'neills t-shirts and another hat instead. "nice hat!" said a man in the same hat. perhaps he was being EIRE-onic.

between the gigantic cheer for the henrik larsson comeback goal and cries of anguish for disallowed johnny hartson equaliser, we were actually a very well behaved group. the two guys in suits who'd been sat at a table drinking turned into impromptu bouncers. it may have got rough later, but we had to press on.

found ourselves a niche

o'neills, islington

picking our way through the building site that is kings cross tube of a weekend we manoeuvred our way onto the southbound northern line for the one stop to angel. we arrived as a tense and busy pub watched injury time (evidently we missed the squandered penalty chance while underground). the only table without a view of tv was empty so we bagged it. game over before we even finished getting the round in and the first scottish silverware of the season went to rangers.

loz would have liked it, except he had to meet yvonne for some shopping and "i'm not going there - it's full of pikeys". the second (and last as it turned out) place that did shamrocks in the guinness heads, and some attached to springs on a headband.

same old same old

hats on, hats off - just like karate kid.

o'neills, covent garden

assurances from mike about the ease of line change at kings cross and the route to holborn was settled. a few pub snaps on the way back to the tube, plus a few more on the way to the next place and we arrived another new o'neills. loz and yvonne's thirst for drink was such that they stopped off at an intermediate place and weren't in the pub like they said, but dan turned up for this one and we got ourselves a second table.

more munch (crisps and meals) and some very creaky stairs. the manager queried how we got the staff green t-shirts until we told him about our previous pub visits. took quite some explaining as well. another hat and some six nations t-shirts in this one. the pace was slacking but there was still plenty of time for a few more boozers.


having finished their boating adventures, edonica met us just outside the next o'neills. well the next but one actually, they having already been to the shaftesbury avenue to find it shut. this one was was absolutely rammed, so we tried the pub opposite (which turned out to be new). mike entered into the spirit of things and had a guinness, which he doesn't like. black currant made it better but incur the wrath of the black stuff purists. "it's an acquired taste", evidently acquired once the first few gulps has destroyed your sense thereof, and back to nice safe lager after that. ex irish pub employee sarah could take it no longer and took the bar staff to task for failing to draw shamrocks in the guinness head. a compromise was reached with the aid of a cocktail stick.

did i say ten pubs? given how full the nearby o'neills was we didn't want to chance having to queue at the next one so stayed in the roundhouse and transferring from the high table near to door to one more inside the bar gave us more room. two drums were added to the huge merchandise haul of four hats and five t-shirts. they turned out to be very popular for musical accompaniment, although possibly only to us.

and there the crawl ended, and BITE saw that it was good. not a mammoth effort by our own exacting standards but none too shabby for a sunday afternoon's work. jay never turned up in the end, although he did sms darren around 2pm with "just woken up, rough as fuck". perfectly acceptable behaviour we thought.

an office and, er, gentleman?


were BITE eyes smiling?

the attendance began to fall off later on. jenny and victoria headed back to forest hill, anne was knackered and threw in the towel, mike and sarah went back to milton keynes. phil and darren left just after 10pm then had to wait around for dan to come back and get his bag. still, at least nobody fell over or fell asleep on a train and woke up in rickmansworth.

thanks to phil for taking the pictures. we probably wouldn't have got into the leicester square o'neills - westlife were there.