Monday, April 10, 2006

"This old town's filled with sin - it'll swallow you in, if you've got some money to burn..."

There was a moment late on hazy Saturday night, when I suddenly doubted whether I was, after all, in a central London pub rather than in the comfort of my own home with a few of my favourite CDs on rotation.
But no, I certainly was in The Phoenix just around the corner from Oxford Circus - here were the bar staff, there were other groups of Saturday stragglers lounging across the comfy cushions and sofas, right in front of me was just the latest in a series of hefty Hoegaarden glasses-cum-barrels - just about visible in the dimming darkness.
Hmm, so perhaps I'd merely poured every coin I could into the jukebox.
How else to explain the backdrop of The Byrds' "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" had been followed by Gram Parsons's "Still Feeling Blue", Emmylou's "Two More Bottles Of Wine", Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and many more country-rock classics you might not expect to hear muscling out the usual more modern city-bar fare...
Gradually it all became clear(ish). The superb "Sin City", a monthly nightclub night devoted to purest Americana, has now moved from the Great Portland Street venue The Albany (with which I was familiar, though without paying a visit for a too-long 12 months or so), to this handier central London location.
The early drinking start yesterday's 12.45pm kick-off at the Lane had encouraged, meant a lengthy late-night-early-morning stint on the dancefloor downstairs wasn't really advisable, but it was a joy to have such a soundtrack played up on our level for most of the evening.
In fact, if only I'd known in advance, I might have brought along the proud black Stetson I bought a few years back in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Actually, that might not have been for the best at Tottenham, judging by how eagerly the blokes sitting in the row behind me latch on anything to whinge about.
No, a cowboy hat is probably best left at home, not taken to the Lane.
Spurs, on the other hand...
(Sorry about that. Awful pun it may be, yet it seemed the kind of obvious open goal only Ronny Rosenthal could have avoided...)


Mike said...

I used to work round the corner from the Phoenix in Marylebone Lane. I really like it, but often found it was murder to try and get a seat. I think the same company owns The Albany, The Volunteer on Baker St and the Southwark Tavern, which you might know if you work near London Bridge. They're all instantly recognisable by the quirky furniture and flock wallpaper.

The race for fourth is even more in the balance now. It looks like it's all coming down to the derby on Saturday week...I wonder if Wenger will see fit to rest Henry for that one?!

Aidan said...

Yes, I do know - and like - the Southwark Tavern - and will keep the Volunteer in mind for whenever around and about Baker Street, on that basis then.
We didn't really have any problems finding space and the place didn't seem over-rammed at all throughout the evening, but can well imagine this varying plenty over the weeks and months.
Regardless of the derby result, deep down I still can't see Arsenal failing to surge past us into fourth - but with all results going our way over this weekend, and especially Bolton's continuing slump, sixth place and Uefa Cup football now seems virtually assured - which is a great, great achievement for us for now, and long-overdue!
Nice feature in this month's Four Four Two about the history of the Spurs-Arsenal rivalry - you even killed our parrot...!

Paulie said...

Two things:

1. In that pic, has Gram got unfeasably large hands or what?

2. If the pub jukebox had that effect, BBC4 was even better last night. I GP biog, a Johnny Cash biog, a Hank Williams biog and a programme called 'kings of country' that featured George Jones and most of the above as well as Jim Reeves (a mixed blessing to these ears)

However, there was a notable absense of Buck Owens on these shows. A shame - I'd like to know more.

overnighteditor said...

I've been known to haunt The Clachan on nearby Kingly Street.

I'll have to check out the Phoenix. fact while checking it out I found this "pub crawl generator":

Mike said...

I used the pub crawl generator a year ago when planning a Good Friday crawl. The idea was that the first letter of every pub eventually spelled 'Good Friday', so we started off at The Green Man, followed by the Old Coffee House and the O Bar etc. Suitably wasted, finished up in Yates's. I know there isn't really an excuse for going into a 'wine lodge', but I really couldn't find a West End alternative beginning with 'Y'.

Aidan said...

Cheers OE, noted for future reference.
I've only really done the good ol' Circle Line pub crawl several times, and the Monopoly board pub crawl once: that one was nothing like as straightforward as you might assume...

Sounds good, Paulie, and gutting to have missed. I'll keep an eye on the BBC4 schedules for any repeats, though I think I've seen the Gram Parsons biography before - shown several times alongside an Emmylou Harris special.