Sunday, 18 August 2013

London this week (again)

There's bad planning for you. I'd expected to wrap up my London trip in a single post. I blame myself for getting too chatty last time.

This time around I'm sure I'll be briefer. For a very good reason, which we'll get to later. I don't want to ruin the suspense.

Having chosen my hotel wisely, it was only a short invigorating stroll to my evening destination, the Parcel Yard. For those of you not conversant with the capital, it's an enormous Fullers pub in the newly poshed-up King's Cross Station. Funnily enough, I've already been there a couple of times, despite it only having opened recently.

The station has been greatly improved by the recent refurbishment. Having grown up beside the East Coast mainline, King's Cross has always been my gateway to London. And what a shabby, depressing gateway it was. A low shed full of tatty shops, drunks and passengers queueing for trains had been tacked on the front of the station sometime in the 1960's.

A pretty shit piece of planning, but nothing like as destructive as the disastrous reconstruction of Euston just down the road. The original station remained intact, just partially obscured by a modern eyesore.

You get to the Parcel Yard via the new extension tacked onto the side of the station. It's about as different as the tacky old extension as you can imagine. High, light, airy, not full of drunks. An actual improvement, for once.

The British Guild of Beer Writers 25th anniversary bash opened its doors at 18:30 and I arrived not long after, wanting to take full advantage of the free beer and food. And what beer there was - a row of stillaged casks with all sorts of liquid loveliness. Thank you Fullers.

I'd expected 30 or 40 bebellied old hacks getting enthusiastically stuck into the beer. It wasn't like that at all.

There must have been hundreds there. Even some young and beautiful ones. I tried not to stand too close to them. I look my best when surrounded by even more rotund pissheads than myself. Or at least I fit in better.

Barely in the door, Derek Prentice pointed me at the very special Fullers beer on offer: Imperial Stout. You may have noticed that I'm a bit of a sucker for Imperial Stout. And Fullers beers. How could I resist?

There were a whole stack of folks I knew there - far too many for me to reel off all their names now, even if I could remember them all. I can remember the first couple of speeches, but after that things get very hazy, then a complete blank. Because I got stuck on the Imperial Stout.

I could try blaming the half pint glasses. They're known to make you drink faster. Or the lack of food intake - I was so busy bullshitting away I didn't want to interrupt my blather by sticking food in my gob. Delicious as the Scotch eggs were. Or even the Aussies - I'd needed a few double whiskies to relieve the tension while watching the cricket earlier.

But when it comes down to it, we all have to take responsibility for our own actions. No-one to blame but myself, ultimately.

About my last clear memory is pitching my new book idea (still top secret at the moment, I'm afraid). Not sure how far into the evening that was. Nor how I made it back to my hotel. Complete blank.

That's why this post is short. I can't remember fuck all of the evening.

The Parcel Yard
King's Cross Station
Tel: 020 7713 7258

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