Actually that's not quite true because this very last missive in this tour, which has been amazingly running for about 18 months (yes, it really did start in September 2013) was one of the better nights out but somehow the length of the tour and the fact that we had month long gaps between episodes for a whole variety of reasons made this a bit of a stop/stop affair and we never quite got the same level of enthusiasm and excitement as we did whilst playing Monopoly. That said, in the tour's defence, it did get us around all over the areas of the East End and there can't be many pubs that we didn't cover during the 16 excursions we completed. And of course we also got to hear the BGC's dulcet tones regaling some most interesting facts about the historical places of worship in the environs.
The final trip was to hear the bells of Bow tell us that they "didn't know" and for those who might think that this meant we were off for a trip to Bow itself, the bells of Bow are actually those of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside.....sort of in-between St Paul's Cathedral and the Bank of England.
The meeting point was to be The Hatchet, a Greene King pub right outside the Garlick Hill exit of Mansion House tube station. Meaning that I had a long elongated tube journey from Wimbledon that took the best part of an hour, whilst the old crowd just had to toddle a couple of stops along the District Line. But as I say, the pub is literally just outside the tube exit which meant the only delay I had in getting inside once I was there was due to my stupid phone requiring a reboot before allowing me to take a picture of the outside.
The pub is actually quite nice, small, cosy and traditional looking and was quite full with a 40th birthday party for someone called Mr Cheese going on in the back room. It was also full with a rather healthy turnout from the boys and girls including some new people whose names I couldn't be bothered to remember (I can really (it's was Milly and Sarah) but I just want to appear avant-garde and dangerous.) as well as whole host of old familiar faces including Buddy Rob, New-Guy Mickey (soon to be a really new guy at a new job) Spikey Haired Ed, Gemma, Nicole, Mo, Isabelle, Lucie, George, oh and Pissed-Up Phil.
As everyone already had drinks I got myself a pint of Greene King's Yardbird "craft" American Pale Ale - Meh. Just seemed gassy to me - from possibly the most miserable bar maid in the world who served it up in a Smithwicks glass. At least my opinion of Little Miss Sunshine was confirmed by Lisa who'd had a similar experience just beforehand.
Due to Mr Cheese's party we were rather cramped against the wall but not cramped enough to stop Gemma showing off her new tattoo. Aside from the very impressive 2 foot high woman with a smoking gun, she's had a lovely pair of anchors on each forearm and ACAB on each fist. What a woman!
But although the pub was nice and it did yield up its own cask Marque certificate, with the lack of anything half decent to drink, the black cloud of doom emanating from Mrs Smiley behind the bar and Gemma being unwilling to show off any more of her tattoos we made a group decision to leave.
Luckily the next watering hole was just across Queen Victoria Street and a short distance up Bow Lane in the shape of "Ye Olde Watling" which eagle-eyed readers will recognise from the Number 2 Chance square from the Monopoly Tour. On that particular visit, it was a stag-only night so it was nice this time to be accompanied by a much larger host of the fairer sex. One thing that hadn't changed from the previous visit was the busy-ness of the pub and after grabbing my pint of Russian Winter from Itchen Valley Brewery (which turned out to be the best pint of the night) we vacated the premises to drink up in the doorway of the offices opposite.
Apart from complimenting Nicole's style of swigging a bottle of Duvel like it was a bottle of Buckfast from a brown paper bag, the main subject of conversation was my recent trip to Brussels which caused Isabelle to remember an uncle of hers who had a street named after him there. Apparently he was the leading pornographic author of his age with books that would knock 50 Shades into a cocked hat. That must have been enough to make her, Lucie and Lisa leave early (again) meaning we were, as usual down to the hard-core tourists by the end of pub 2.
Moving on it was again another short stagger around the corner into Watling Street and the Pavilion End, a Fuller's pub which I wonder if it was operating when we did the Chance 2 tour as it would have surely have been on the list? Anyway, it's a smart modern place and best of all, because it's Fuller's, it allowed me to use another free beer voucher and get my pint of Gale's Seafarers Ale for the cost of a sheet of paper. The ladies, in the loosest sense of the word cause I'm only referring to Gemma and Nicole, had pints of Adnams Ghost Ship which judging by the grimace on Nicole's face wasn't in the finest form. It tasted all right to me and it wasn't all that appalling to Ed who agree to share his pint of Heineken half and half with her.....anything for a quiet life.
The Pavilion End markets itself as a sport bar and just above the stairs to the downstairs was a big screen TV which was showing some darts tournament or other. Just as we were settling down with the drinks a match started between the legendary Phil Taylor and some other bloke, (who eventually lost the match), and so began one of the most bizarre pub conversations I've ever participated in.
Ed, ever the suave raconteur of conversation, decided to throw into the mix the question as to whether any of us would sleep with Phil "the power" if as a reward we would then get the right to sleep with anyone of their choosing for the next ten nights. Look, don't judge him. We were in a pub and he was on his third pint and at the end of the day he's still a young chap.
My answer isn't really relevant to the conversation (it isn't alright and that's all you're ever going to get out of me on the subject) but where Ed and I differed was that I presumed to take the passive role in any imagined coupling between myself and poor old Phil whereas Ed wanted to take the active role with the reasoning that he could close his eyes and he would then just be basically banging any old hole in any old body. I think poor old Phil might disagree but there you go.
Nicole, ear-wigging in on the conversation, then chipped in by stating that any form of back-door copulation would invariably involve poo. And so poor old Phil was left bare-butt naked on the side lines whilst we had to argue about how the human digestive system works and whether there was, in fact, a huge long tube of poo curled round inside everyone's body or whether there are little trains of poo all chugging their own way down to the exit and more importantly whether either of these options would result in "poo on willy" syndrome - and that's her words not mine.
So there you have it, intelligent and insightful conversation courtesy of the pub..........and Phil, really really sorry. Just sorry.
Moving on......a sharp right up Bread Street and onto Cheapside itself and there in front of us was the church of St Mary-le-Bow, which is all things told, a very pretty and impressive building. This was also possibly the easiest bit of research of the whole tour as almost everyone has heard of Bow Bells and the story that it was the sound of these which caused Dick Whittington to turn round and take up the mayor-ship of London (again) and it was also the sound of these which denote whether or not you're born a Cockney or not.
The church had a sign outside advertising coffee and Mo and Gemma tried to partake of this offer but almost gate-crashing a service whilst the rest of the tour went sailing down Cheapside. I had to call them back with a whistle and direct them back down Bow Street and take the short cut up Groveland Court to Williamsons Tavern. Again this was a re-visit from Chance Number 2 but at least this time it was less packed and we managed to find suitable places inside. There was even room for Phil to latch onto another couple who I understand were both his cousins or something? They're a happy bunch up towards Watford.
The beers of choice were a Winter Lightning from Hop Back Brewery and Otter Bright interspersed with a shot of Sambuca which apparently was a good idea at the time.
I can't remember a great deal about the conversation, I think we'd moved on from the poo subject by now, but I'll say this for the Williams Tavern, it does have some very nice tiled toilets.
And so all good things come to good ends and in this particular case it was a series of selfies in the foyer of Mansion House tube station before I took the West Bound line and the rest of the gang took the East Bound line. The only thing to accompany me on the long journey home were my lovely shoes, Tintagel Castle (57603) which was getting ready to pull the Night Riviera and some good memories of the Oranges and Lemons.
So, what's next for the great BGC and the rest of the tour? Well it's been no secret for a while now and it'll come to you in the form of a question:
"What's the difference between an Embassy and a High Commission? For example, the French Embassy and the Australia High Commission."
The answer will be found in the next blog and the next tour..........I just wonder if there's any one up for it?