*Article written in 2009*
So, after 5 years of thinking about it, talking about it, and putting it off a bit, we finally got round to doing the London Monopoly Pub Crawl. Me, and my great mates Woza, John, Comedy Dave and Alan had a good breakfast then dived in a cab to Digbeth Coach Station.
The coach departed promptly and we hit the motorway. It didn’t take long for the pissing around to start and soon me and Woza were having the usual blokey discussions, telling anecdotes, and of course doing impressions of Bo Selecta characters. We didn’t realise though, that the coach was rather quiet, our voices were loud, and our discussions could be heard by everyone. John and Alan in front were cringing at every use of words normally reserved for after the 9pm watershed.
We got to London, and set about the arduous task of finding what travel pass we needed, what lines on the underground we had to use, and rather vitally a map to help with this kind of planning. We eventually got sorted and found the hotel with ease.
I was looking forward to the hotel. On the internet it had said we would find helpful staff, who would help us plan our weekend, and we would get a warm welcome. I kinda guessed that the helpful and welcoming staff had all been given the weekend off.
So it was off to Elephant and Caste tube station that would take us towards Old Kent Road. We had to use a pub just round the corner called The George, and after being amused by the locals discussions – also more suited for late night Channel 4 , we moved on.
On Whitechapel Road, we were looking for The Blind Beggar (we didn’t find it), but whilst stopping for a photo at the road sign, a passing lad asked if he could join the photo. We said yes, and then explained what we were doing, and asked if he wanted to sign the board, after clarifying that he didn’t have to pay for the privilege, he signed it “Happy Birthday Evo. Connor”. More on that later.
We made our way to Liverpool Street Station, and this was to prove the highpoint of the night. A Wetherspoons pub, full of pretty ladies, and cheap booze. My fave lass was stunning, a brunette, in a fantastic white dress, and she made her way down the stairs like Priscilla Presley in Naked Gun (without the falling down bit obviously). Another high point was as we stood and watched a bloke calmly walk into the women’s bog. Upon realising his error, he simply turned round, checked his look in the mirror and strolled out.
Upon getting to Kings Cross, our guide said to head to Platform 8 where the bar would be. Upon reaching said platform though, the big building site style fences didn’t look good. Determined though I just marched off down the platform. I very nearly plummeted off the end of it. I don’t know what the next station down the line is, but I reckon I would have reached it very quickly. I turned and headed back and the lads had asked someone who had confirmed that the bar was behind the fences. A sign said “We are renovating this 150 year old station for your benefit”. Great, it’s been there that long, and they mess around with it on the one year I visit.
Disappointed we headed back to the pub by our hotel. The plan to tick off 8 properties on the first night, had not occurred and with only 4 visited, we needed a big push on the Saturday.
We sat outside a pub by our hotel with cans of pop and quickly planned our route for the morning. As we mulled, an elderly lady approached and asked “is that pub open?” When Alan responded in the negative she simply said “bastard”, putting full feeling into it. Alan could only respond with “it aint my fault”.
Euston Road was second on the agenda. John had announced in the week his intention to get his pants out by this road sign for a photo. He duly pulled his jeans down and stood there in his briefs for a picture, and nobody passing by batted an eyelid. Once John was zipped back up we hit the pub – The Rocket. The barmaid happily signed the board, and when getting outside Woza checked what she had put. “Oh, she’s put a kiss on the board. I’d rather she put it on my nob”. Said barmaid had decided to take a break and unbeknown to Woza, she was now sat on the bench right behind him.
The Angel in Islington is the only property on the board that is a building rather than a street. The building on Islington High Street is now a J D Wetherspoons and in there we met another crowd doing the crawl. Although they had had the smart idea of putting their Monopoly board in a carrier bag, something that simply had not occurred to me. We had a chat, but soon realised that they were only on their 4th property and were already a bit worse for wear. One of them asked if I was a foreigner. My dodgy accent has never been deemed foreign before so that was novel. A fine Wetherspoons meal of sausage, egg and beans later, and we were back on the tube.
I’m a bit of a London Underground geek and whenever I’m on it I always pretend to be in the Aqua “Turn Back Time” video and sing that song loudly on the escalators just to be a bit of a nob, and this time was to be no exception.
Next we hit the green set. This was to be the mistake that killed the challenge. We deviated off the official pub crawl route I’d printed off as my mate said we were “right by” Regent Street. Firstly Oxford Street. There is no pub on Oxford Street, so we had to use a pub within spitting distance of it. A quick thought. Oxford Street is so long, and there is not one pub. The town planners have some serious questions to answer over this balls up, I tell thee.
So we were outside the pub, I spotted a lass who was collecting for charity, but was having a break and was sat on the floor. I gave Woza my bottle and camera to hold and he read me like a book. “You’re gonna ask her to sign the board aint ya?”. I was. The chance to get another signature on the board, whilst having a flirt, and doing my bit for charity was too much of a win win situation to turn down. So I went over, and she was more than happy to sign in exchange for a donation. Upon asking who I wanted the message made out too, I said “Evo” and pointed at Connor’s message from the previous night, so she could spell it right. She read this and promptly made the message out to Evo Connor. The lads lapped this up, and I had a new nickname for the rest of the weekend.
Shortly after this in another pub, I went for a toilet – yeah so unlike me, and upon walking back up the stairs, a nice lady was waiting at the top, so being a gentleman, I stepped aside and gestured her down, and she proceeded. As she approached I took a step back to give her more room, totally forgetting that I was on a staircase. As I started to fall, I had to grab the banister to stop me plummeting. I could hear her laughing as she walked down the stairs. We didn’t swap numbers.
Due to going off route we spent a lot of time marauding round the green set looking for pubs rather than being guided straight to the front doors of the suggested ones on the official route. We realised that we were now not likely finish the challenge so we opted to nip back to the hotel to change and then just see how many properties we could visit. We decided to head for the bright lights of the yellow set to start the evening.
In TGI Fridays on Coventry Street Woza noticed actual Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone off of Spurs, across the room. So we headed over to ask them to sign the board which they happily did. It was a good job he saw them as my knowledge of Premier League football is minimal and I’ve have probably just walked past them. Two decent lads though and I was chuffed they stopped their chats to sign the board.
The staff in TGI’s were very friendly and more than happy to sign the Coventry Street square, and the one lass was so impressed with what we were doing, she decided she was going to do it with her boyfriend for his birthday. She was more than happy to pose for a photo too, so it was all good. A really good visit.
As we admired Eros, at Piccadilly Circus, we saw a lass with a “I love the Monopoly pub crawl” t-shirt on, thinking she would be more than happy to give us an autograph, we hung around till she had finished her phone call. However we quickly clocked that she was American, very very drunk, and separated from her friends. In a bid to help them figure where she was, she advised that she was “by some big flashing lights, and a statue”. They knew where she meant though and found her while we were pondering our options. We moved on happy that she was okay.
The evening ended with a bit of frustration on the Bakerloo Line. We had our longest wait of the weekend and then when the train turned up, it got rammed straight away, and chugged along slowly until 2 stops from home where it ground to a halt. As about 15 mins passed without movement, and serious drinking time being wasted, along with temperatures rising on the train, the rest of the lads who were standing by the doors announced we were going to give it neck and grab a cab. Me however, sitting down in the carriage, had other things on my mind. I’d opened an albeit small amount of dialogue with a French lass opposite “je m’appelle Evo Boozy Saddler j’adore Walsall FC” – not sure how much she understood. Also the lady next to me had just removed her jumper, unfortunately flashing her white bra to everyone in the process, but just as I was wondering if I’d learned to say “do you fancy a kebab?” in French at school I was summonsed by the rest of the lads to grab a taxi. We took no more than two steps on the platform and the train doors shut and off it went. Arse. However, we saw that another was due in 1 minute, and it turned up bang on time. And then it sat there for about 10 mins. Double arse.
Sunday was a far more gentle day, which probably wasn’t a bad thing after I had slept on the floor, with just a towel for a blanket. (We opened a cupboard before departing and it was rammed full of blankets. Triple arse) With the challenge looking more than lost, we just sped round and ticked off Northumberland Avenue (The Sherlock Holmes), and Strand (a pub called The Coal Hole just had to be done as I’m childish and I liked the name), before hitting the tube to tick off Leicester Square.
With time against us, we played it safe and opted to just sup by the coach station. We still managed two more pubs, and a chip shop before getting to the coach with minutes to spare. The return journey was far more subdued than the one going down, Alan and John slept the whole way back, and didn’t have to cringe once.
A fine weekend, and I’ll remember it forever. We visited 18 of the 26 properties. But to finish with a Terminator style message for all in London, “we’ll be back”.