Pub Stagger 4
"Works Night Out"
Tuesday 28 November 2006
The fourth in the booze-fuelled series took us to the Printworks on barney's request (and barney thought of the title too). Again, a taxi for spaceman, but barney was not so successful ("you might as well walk, mate" was the potential taxi driver's comment). Barney's subsequent slight lateness gave spaceman the chance to scout the area (it's been a while).
Spaceman is keen on doing all the pubs in the Printworks tonight, but barney less so. We both have ill girlfriends but barney seems the more concerned (or furnished with less freedom). We start on the eastern edge, which is resplendent with colourful lighting.
Pub 1 - Lloyds No. 1
So, from the east side, Lloyds No. 1 is our, um, number one choice.
Spaceman gets in 2 bottles of Becks in (£1.99 each) as barney grabs some raised chairs by the window (it's quite busy - there isn't much of a choice in the seating department). Spaceman is in a bit of rush given the desire to "do" the Printworks in one night (taking photos and scribbling notes as if in the latter stages of an exam) - this urgency does not seem to be shared by barney. There are draught beers available but we figure that we stand a better chance of succeeding in our goal if we stick with bottles (also, we may make it out alive this way). We are bit stuck in the corner, right near the fruit machines.
Barney, as tradition so relentless dictates, has today's MEN in order to have a go at the crossword. Barney gets 3 clues and is then stuck, but there is no time for the reporter, spaceman, to join in. Back on to a more relevant topic, barney reckons Lloyds No. 1 is a Wetherspoon's pub, but a franchise. Spaceman offers to investigate the toilets (which are upstairs, helpfully shown by the sign), inviting embarrassment by taking photos along the way.
There is in fact a bar upstairs. But it is not well attended.
There is nothing like flash photography in a dimly lit room to draw attention to oneself. All in the line of duty and all that. It certainly gets someone at the bar incandescent.
On returning from the mini-adventure, barney has managed to answer another clue. Well done, old boy! Coldplay and Moby play on the video screen - is there a video jukebox, perhaps? Having possibly annoyed the clientele with repeated flashing, with the bottles of beer drained, it's time to go.
Pub 2 - Henry J. Beans Bar And Grill
A short hop across the walkway and we are at HJB's Bar & Grill.
Barney rushes on ahead, getting two bottles of Peroni for £5.90, as spaceman snaps a few "outdoor" shots, looking a bit like a desperate tourist. Ah well, a man's gotta do, etc. Two more high-ish stools are commandeered by the ever-resourceful barney, which are a little near the dancefloor for spaceman's liking (we are not tempted, however). Barney speculates whether the poles on said dancefloor are used a lot at weekends (by drunken revellers). Here is a gratuitous bar shot to interrupt the narrative flow.
Barney goes on to say that the food here is nice (deep fried platters, etc. - right up barney's street in other words), recalling the exploding TK bottle incident (you may well have heard it on the news - where were you when the bottle exploded in HJB's?). A sign says "Christmas bookings now being taken", near the slightly separate restaurant area.
Many TVs show Channel 4 news with subtitles, which is relatively high brow and at odds with the loud dance-y music blaring out of the speakers (although the volume does explain why the subtitles are necessary). Spaceman finally lends a hand with the crossword and progress is made. Now we're rocking. Wondering about possible happy hours, barney points out both a large sign proclaiming the times and the fact that this website's happy hours page is startlingly out of date (barney is not one able to talk on the subject of website development).
The dance music switches to rock/pop with a bit of L'il Chris, which barney very much enjoys. But unfortunately we must go (once the song has finished).
Pub 3 - Puremagic
More Coldplay playing when we enter, as spaceman gets 2 Peronis (bottles, of course) for £5.40, before switching to Michael Jackson's Billy Jean (the music that is not our drinks, not that you can drink Billy Jean, unless it's a cocktail or a shooter or whatever). On the face of it, Puremagic is a small, chilled out place.
However, barney is adamant that the downstairs clubs is massive, possibly 20 or 50 times the size of the small upstairs bar, like some crazy iceberg or Tardis. A random geezer with a hat and long hair perform card tricks for a group of people reclining in chairs. There is a white piano by the window, nearby which we lounge in brown chairs.
Barney, eagle-eyed as ever, spots lots of monetary notes and receipts pinned to the ceiling. From where we are sat, we can spot the time shown on the outside of the Odeon (formerly the Filmworks), which neatly time-stamps our evening.
The card-trick magician then leaves, to be superseded by the guy that served us at the bar, armed with an array of rope tricks, which has barney thinking for a while afterwards. A song by the Arctic Monkeys starts playing but barney thinks that the stereo is in, um, mono. We're making solid progress through the Printworks. On coming to this bar, barney mentioned that there is a bar in the Odeon, but we're not going there. There are three TVs here and they all show Japanese TV, in fact Japanese magic shows. We see another magician and it's all starting to fall into place - it's called Puremagic! We see a sign saying that it is the "UK's first magically themed bar" - something different, we suppose. Here is the barman guy, who has switched to cards and read-out cards.
Spaceman forces barney to the toilets (verbally rather than physically) to carry out some necessary research. Meanwhile here is a shot of the bar and the rest of the bar, while spaceman waits for barney.
Barney comes back with a report, having used a cubicle (metal sheers, spun round and, er, came out). Barney speculates whether the toilets were designed for midgets, as the urinals are very low. And the sinks are poncey. Thanks barney. Musically, it is then the turn of a weird cover of The Monkees, but it is also the turn for the fourth bar of the night.
Pub 4 - Old Orleans
The choice is stark on the entry to this bar.
Do we go into the bar? Or the restaurant?
Well, the bar, obviously. Have you not been listening? Barney does the honours, purchasing two bottles of Peroni for £5.30, the cheapest Peronis yet, price fans. Inevitably, the Old Orleans offers you...
It's quite busy and there aren't many places to sit; in fact, we find possibly the only available seat, a small brown sofa which we squeeze onto. Given our endless travails together, we can cope easily with such intimacy. (Room for a little one?) We peruse the shooters & cocktails menu - no thanks, beers only please.. Here is a shot of the bar from our seat. Look at all the lovely Christmas decorations hanging down.
Spaceman genuinely needs the toilets and so goes to check them out, but has trouble actually getting into the cubicle. It is very small and the toilet roll holder breaks off on entry (but, luckily it clicks back nicely). The problem is that the door opens inwards and the holder blocks the path in (it's not spaceman being fat - look, it's just a little holiday weight). But overall, not great design. In order to get out of there, spaceman had to stand astride the toilet until the door was fully open. Graceful it was not. While spaceman was away, barney has been trying to figure out the rope trick that was performed in Puremagic. There is an accordion on the wall near us (there are numerous things on the wall, in fact).
Barney comments that all the food comes with a lot of chips. Which is fair enough.
Pub 5 - Norwegian Blue
Opus/Ink is shut it seems but there are some people inside, although they may well be staff (barmen a-milling, bouncers a-sitting).
Possibly relieved at having to do one fewer bar, we bound off into Norwegian Blue, which is dingy and is playing loud music. We get two bottles of Peroni for £6.20 (ouch) while a TV shows Elton on Hits TV. Here is its frontage.
We stand by the "please use the other door" door because there are no seats. On a Tuesday. Weird. In search of seats, we had ventured upstairs, but it is shut.
Upstairs is where the toilets are located, however, so barney takes control of the camera while spaceman pops in and out of the toilets for research only (i.e. no usage). The cloakroom near the toilets is £1 a pop. Lovely. We spy Opus across the way from upstairs.
Here is some of barney's work. On the right is the constantly colour-changing thing behind the bar.
The large snowflakes hanging down from the ceiling barney makes a big deal over. We are careful on the way down.
Where we stand we can see a pool table, sadly out of action.
We'd quite like to sit down so we finish our beers and leave.
Pub 6 - Waxy O'Connors
We head back across the way to Waxy O'Connors.
Barney thinks the whole place has the feel of being cut of a fucking enormous bit of tree (like the Norway Ice Hotel but, er, in wood). Spaceman spots Budvar in one of the fridges behind the bar. They are 500ml but £3.50 each - the barmaid persuades us to go for the larger beers; meanwhile, the Magic Numbers play on the sound system. Here is the bar bit.
The staircase down to here was very confusing - it's like the Crystal Maze ("onto the Irish Quarter now... I'll have a Guinness Game"). Inspired, barney makes an Edward Tudor-Pole vs wood connection. We sit at the bar. Discussing things. Spaceman says that all the bars grouped here (in the Printworks) have the same beers and snacks. There is a secret staff door (a bit like the Hogshead in the slow pub crawl Day 21) which barney impels spaceman to go through, but spaceman resists. We again marvel at the complexity of the place. It's like spaceman's home if he was from Mahoganyland. So many stairs, so little time we wonder out loud. Beck play on the stereo while spaceman asks the barmaid questions in the interests of research. She agrees to pose for the camera (technically, she was just not bothering to move).
It doesn't quite look like she knows what she's doing, but our bottles were opened ok. We have great difficulty reading a sign on a ceiling beam, which looks like gaelic, until the barmaid points out that the spaces are in the wrong places and it just reads "Eat, drink and be merry". Crazy, but it had us puzzled for ages.
It's difficult to say more about the place without a personal cartographer and a compass.
Pub 7 - Café Rouge
We head to the outside of the Printworks for our next pub.
We go in and order at the bar. Mistake no. 1: we get Artois Bock, which is a dark beer that tastes nothing like lager. Also, we're not able to get served at the bar and instead we have to sit down before we are served. In fact, barney repeats the question to make absolutely clear what we have to do in order to get a drink, and contemplates hovering above the chair to test them. This doesn't happen. So we grab a table. From which we can see some stairs.
And evidence we are where we say we are and think we are.
The beers smells almost fruit but tastes quite bitter, and they do not go down too well. Because our beers are delivered to the table, we do not find out how much the beers cost until later as the bill isn't delivered straight away. It's quiet in here, quite chilled. Paparazzi, spaceman notes, is not open until 10pm, but is probably pay to get in anyway, and so discounted from out little expedition. Here is the queue.
Although this was taken at 9.40pm, so not sure what was going on. You can also see the side of the pub we are, um, in. We return to discussing the beers. Spaceman says it tastes like spirits, but barney disagrees and says it is more like bitter, but is not able to place it. Spaceman is definitely not liking the beer, convinced it tastes a bit like whisky. Barney says "rubbish". In the end, spaceman doesn't finish the beer... a poor effort. Outside is a good view of Next and the Manchester Wheel.
It was at this point, having left Café Rouge, that we remember that we haven't paid. Oops! We do the lawful thing and head back in to pay. They don't seem that perturbed by the whole thing. Barney then goes ahead to Hard Rock Café while spaceman runs back into the Printworks to get some more snaps (including the one of Waxy O'Connors) but is told by some security person the photos aren't allowed in the Printworks (er, what). Spaceman has already taken them, though, mwahaha.
Pub 8 - Hard Rock Café
But the Hard Rock Café is on the outside of the Printworks and so we can take photos freely.
Barney gets in two bottles of Becks for £5.60, also asking for bar snacks - however, all we get is a menu... not quite what we want. It is a massive menu with massive portions. The "classic" song Jump Around comes on. The screens behind the bar are showing either "Hard Rock Café" or the video to the aforementioned "classic" song Jump Around. Here is the bar.
Barney is a genius, figuring the upstairs bit is new, and eventually locating the stairs (to be fair, the lighting is not so great). Here is upstairs.
This place is heavy on the memorabilia. Woo, it's getting late. Conversation is thin on the ground. On the way out, spaceman snaps the snazzy door handles. Very apt.
Pub 9 - Tiger Tiger
We stagger on to the last one for the night, spotting on our way The Birdcage, a club opposite. So spaceman takes a photo of it. A random girl poses but does not make the final picture.
And Tiger Tiger itself.
Spaceman gets two bottles of Grolsch for £6 and we get two seats near-ish the bar. Barney spots some kind of Japanese society outing (one female is attired in a school girl outfit which barney approves of). Two other girls, not in the outing, sport red antlers. It's gratuitous shot of the bar time...
We chat drunkenly, consuming our ninth bottles of the night with not much food (the large bottle in Waxy's offsetting the poor consumption in Café Rouge. We both think that the Christmas markets equals good. Barney particularly likes the chocolate bananas. We notice a large tiger-y thing on the wall.
At the end of the night, spaceman enquires about food but stop the newspapers! The new headline reads: "Barney in not hungry shocker!". In the way back down to the Cross Street junction, spaceman again mentions the fact that photos aren't allowed in the Printworks. Spaceman goes to ask one of the (three) security guys why this is, and he replies that it is a private property. Er, but so are all the bars we have ever been in. This is from when spaceman was playing photo catch-up, taking a shot of Waxy's and also the big screen. Look how the security guys are caught on camera. Merry Christmas, y'all!
While spaceman is talking away, barney sidles up nearby and starts taking camera phone photos, which prompts the security guy to ask if spaceman knows barney. Spaceman replies (probably not all that convincingly) "no" and walks off as an unconnected-with-barney person might do. Spaceman spies a taxi and plans an exit in case barney starts upsetting people, but the ongoing discussion is just that, a discussion. Barney takes a look at the notice on the wall and decides that the security guys don't actually have that many rights.
In the end, we just start taking pictures of them surreptitiously, although perhaps not as much as we think because one of them asks if we had just taken a photo of him. It's not the most revealing of photos (that, er, spaceman didn't take). Look how they glow scarily.
Undeterred by spaceman's denial, he angrily accuses spaceman of the heinous crime, to which spaceman continues to say "no" and then again walks away. Eventually, barney leaves the not-so-heated debate and we go home our separate ways. All part of the fun and games. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire: