Friday nights and drinking are an art that has been perfected by the London working crowd. You will notice this that all workers are done and dusted with work by almost as early as 3pm. The process starts around midday when they gather in clusters outside office, smokes and cups of coffee in their hand, nattering away. That is what Fridays should look like – the prospect of the weekend starting off, armed with cups of coffee and all-important conversations that hinge upon … you take your pick of what they should go like. Go wild.
A Friday evening decides the tone of the night. Will you be relegated to the guest bed or the couch? For your own bed shall be out of limits. Let there be no doubt about that.
That is If you make it back home by morning.
Take my husband’s colleague. He boarded a train from London after a substantial evening of pints to get back to his home in the suburbs. Sleep took over. The worthy man woke up and found himself in the seaside town of Brighton. What a frightful mess you would think. You would also think he would have been alert to the possibilities of what lay after. Think again. He nodded off. Yes once more.
Life is a series of dramatic incidents on any particular Friday evening that starts with an innocent drink. When our friend woke up a second time, he found himself in Brighton, fell asleep, woke up and found himself in Brighton all over again. A vicious cycle alright but brought to a halt the third time when his wife turned up at the station. The aftermath would not have been pretty.
Then there is the husband. After an evening of drinks post work on a Friday, he called to say he would be home after a couple of drinks. Two drinks being the operative words here. Our friends, part of the merry party, called to assure me that he was hauling his behind out of the pub soon. Contrary to what it sounds like, I Do Not sit with a cudgel at home.
That was 8pm. This was 11pm. Barring an evening of books and Netflix, a twinge of conscience made me put through a call. It turned out that Adi had just then got onto a train.
Midnight came and went. Radio silence. Several frantic calls. Now booze, sleep and trains make for best friends forever. Adi, it turned out, had been on a train to Gatwick. No prizes for guessing, but he had slept off in between. Now, Gatwick is an hour away from Euston, the station from which Adi catches the train back home to Northampton. By the time he had reached London again, the last train for Northampton had left the station. Voila.
The story did not end there. This talented husband of mine declared that why he would sleep the last few hours of the morning at the station. Alarm bells started ringing in my head. I was picturing him, a drunk man in a suit by the side of the road, snoring away with his mouth open, not unlike a hobo.
Oh not a scene to be endured even though my thoughts for this pesky creature were not too kind at the moment. After a session of extreme nagging (it is a tiring job, isn’t it?), he tottered over to a taxi and spent a not-too-moderate sum to get back home.
The clock struck 4 when my warrior reached home.
Sympathy had run dry and the guest bed was the perfect repository for all drunken snores.
Lest you are in London on a night out, this time with the errant partner/friend, do give these spots a look-in.
In ultra-hip Shoreditch, which some poor sod ranted about as being too hip (as if!), the East Enders welcome Friday with a bang. Boho-chic fashion, hipster beards and a chilled-out vibe reigns supreme. The mind boggles to think that the place is supposed to have got its name from some mistress of a 13th century king of England who lay dead in a ditch here. And Shoreditch came to be – her name was Jane Shore. What a pathetic insert into the happy evening we are contemplating, I admit, but then in London it is easy to think that the bench you are sitting on belonged to some earl who sat on it as he played the violin, releasing mournful strains by the minute.
The streets of Shoreditch are awash with colour and you can spend your time watching movies on rooftop cinemas or shop away and scout street art in its various alleys with a tripod and trusty DSLR in your hand. Better still, you can catch a drink in one of its gastropubs and do some pub-hopping. Be a busy bee in short.
The Owl & Pussycat
Now you would be forgiven for wondering, ‘Why are people spilling over onto the streets? Did the pub throw them out for bad behaviour and they therefore stand around like punished schoolboys and girls. Only with glasses in their hand?’ No these fine men and women just like to stand and drink, okay? It is a London end-of-the-week ritual. This 18th century pub here is a fine place to sit and nosh away, if you get any space on one of its fashionable Chesterfields. If not, just take yourself to the beer garden at its back for my sake and join the many who stand around dreaming away or eavesdrop on others who pontificate about changes in life with a glass of wine in their hands.
The name does the job. A small joint but when you are down a few pints you know what burgers can do. So I shall just quietly step away from the burger. Go on. Make it sloppy.
A converted shipping container that is filled with options for when you want to eat and drink alongside ‘cos why should you do one thing when you can multi-task. Chomp and guzzle.
That stands for Beach Blanket Babylon. Why on earth would they think of beach and Babylon together? My imagination is at a loss. Also because I did not end up inside. But if you do, let me know?
Some more dirty stuff. Here you can truly get working with your hands. Now stop overworking that ripe imagination and wait for the bowl of spicy chicken wings to make its way to your table. Magic.
You could look in here and try the gol gappas. Water-filled balls that is. Translations sometimes can put a smile on your face. The spiciness and tanginess of them can act as the perfect antidote to an evening of Bacchanalian pleasures.
Lastly, I have to slip in this wonderful little institution outside Euston station. Now Euston is the gateway to London for some who arrive by train from various parts of the country. The location of Euston Tap is strategic. No time is too early or late for a pint. You can choose to slowly get sloshed before taking your train or you can arrive at Euston and get started at this craft beer pub. The only thing is you have got to remember – and this is vital – is to get on the train to make it back home, okay?