The Central Manchester Slow Pub Crawl - Day 12
Day 12 - Tuesday 30th September 2003 (Map)
Pub 84 - Taurus (Canal Street)
Spaceman is the late one this time - busy at work, y'see - and a breakdown in communication means that barney marches straight to the bar instead of waiting outside spaceman's workplace. Still, two pints of Carling for £5.00 and barney is fine (more with the beer itself than the price and having to pay). This is the end of Canal Street that we didn't manage to do last time, next door to Velvet. It's a fine street to sit outside in the summer. But it ain't the summer now so we're indoors, appreciating the dimly lit, sorry, atmospheric surroundings. It's a nice place, which is full, well not full, of business types.
Downstairs is called the Joseph Perrier Lounge, for some reason - it's where you'll find the bogs, anyway. We discuss the fact that the pubs and bars in Manchester are dropping like flies. The latest to close is Cosmopolitan Spirit, which actually opened after we started the crawl. Are we taking that long? Also, it transpires, Chez Gérard has bitten the dust. It always seemed quite a popular place so maybe the owners have taken the money and run. Other ones to have closed are Rothwells and Reform, all in the same area strangely, with only the latter reopening, as Hurricane Bar & Grill.
Spaceman saw the grand opening night of Hurricane Bar & Grill while walking past - they had loud music and flame jugglers. Enough chat of closed bars. Suffice to say that if we don't get a move on, we'll never finish the damn pub crawl, such is the ever-changing social environment that is Manchester city centre. We reluctantly leave the comfy sofa barney had secured on arrival and briefly discuss how cruel it is to have to move on after each beer. Enough moaning, though - we have a job to do...
Pub 85 - Edwards (Portland Street)
Two pints of Carling are £4.40 and spaceman is already 60p ahead on the night (god knows that the full tally is up to). Familiar old Edwards - spaceman used to go here a lot before discovering Canal Street (not in that way). It's had a refurbishment reasonably recently and it's looking better, but there are still no spare settees to rest our already-weary legs. Instead, we are forced to perch on overly upright chairs in the far right corner. It's quite busy, but it usually is straight after work (it's still not 7pm yet). And the fact that it's still before 8pm means that we miss out on the offer of £1 for any of a pint of Carling, a bottle of Stella or Reef, or a Smirnoff shot). Damn.
We decide not to bother yet with the ones on Oldham Street we never got round to, these being Fridays In The City and the Late Lounge. Barney comments, of Edwards, that there's "lots of glass - wouldn't want to be the window cleaner" (there is a large glass frontage). There's an underused balcony upstairs at the back, which we don't use (we rarely, if ever, change seating positions once the lager is flowing). The aforementioned glass frontage allows a lovely view of Piccadilly Gardens and the bus station, where spaceman used to keep an eye on the number 33 bus to Monton (and beyond). The nights are becoming ever longer and darker as we head out to the place next door...
Pub 86 - AM:PM (Portland Street)
In the bar formerly known as Huxters, we get two pints of Fosters for a jaw-droppingly good £3. We sit in the middle of the main area and watch Locomotiv against Arsenal (nil-nil in the end) on the big-ish screen behind the bar. Spaceman nips off to the toilets - they're ok, nothing special. Not a great deal to say about this place. Since its change from Huxters, it's become more of a dual purpose place - sandwiches and stuff at lunchtime, with a bar for the evening. It means there's less room for drinking downstairs because of the sandwich counter, but there's always upstairs. We move on...
Pub 87 - The Portland Arms (Portland Street)
This pub is part of the Piccadilly Hotel - we're not sure until we see a sign saying that you can actually charge drinks to the Hotel. Two pints of Fosters set us back £3.20 - but it tastes a bit rough and the whole place smells of piss generally. We find a quiet corner (not a strenuous task) and idly watch Tony Blair bang on about not having a reverse gear (does this mean he'll have to do a U-turn if he gets stuck in a dead end?). One hundred per cent old people in here, except us of course, but we won't be coming back. It's definitely in need of a bit of redecoration. An old, ruddy faced gentleman sat at the bar, with obligatory flat cap, burps very loudly. Charming.
Barney gets into a bit of a rant on this pub (in written form) - crap TV (compared to plasma in AM:PM), all crackly and nasty. The toilets are for patrons only. Average age is old. Slow and boring but cheap beer. ITV means shit and It Shouldn't Happen To A Reality TV Show. Nice wood. (Barney's rant ends.) We catch the end of Eastenders as the barman (only one needed) changes to BBC1, and we see the newly-returned Dirty Den and adopted daughter Sharon engaged in a slanging match. We leave to the sound of the infamous drums of drama...
Pub 88 - Bar Rogue (Portland Street)
Formerly known as Bar Roque, we think - a curious change of name. £4 for two pints of Fosters and it's utterly deserted. We head to the downstairs bar only to be told that the upstairs bar is the only one open. Barney's view of the toilets are: cosy (i.e. too close together, rather than homely). We do manage to spot a couple of fellow customers and get a warm feeling inside because we're not the only ones here who don't have to be. Horrifically, there are TVs everywhere, and they're showing It Couldn't Happen To A Reality TV Show - aargh!
From our seat, we can see straight through to the 'Victorian grandeur' of the Britannia Hotel (allegedly a former cathouse?). The main reception area has a very fancy chandelier, barney points out. We're not staying there tonight, though - we have our own homes to go to...
Pub 89 - Wave Bar (Portland Street)
The initial description of Wave Bar is provided by barney's incisive interview with the barmaid while spaceman checks out the lavs. The barmaid informs barney that "it isn't always this quiet and it's banging at the weekends - but it's a bit rough." It's £3 for two pints of Fosters. "That's why it's a bit rough" the barmaid finishes. Spaceman asks about the pizzeria next door, but the barmaid apparently knows nothing (about the pizzeria) as she's never been.
So the place is deserted - what a surprise. "Not the most kicking night we've had" says barney (who's thinking of The City, obviously). Spaceman wonders aloud about Oldham's score as we wander out the door...
Pub 90 - Spinner's Bar (Portland Street)
Spinner's Bar looks like it's called Jenny's Pizzeria from the outside - we tentatively enter, not expecting much. There's no Fosters on tonight, so we settle (not the right word, really) for Kronenbourg, but don't pay attention to the price (like the amateurs we are). We spend most of the time here doing the Metro crossword. Well, barney does it - spaceman finished it earlier in the day. We overlook a restaurant area (presumably belonging to Jenny). There's no-one here. This is the dark side and we'll be off soon...
Pub 91 - Yates's (Portland Street)
Spaceman manages to lose a pen inside coat lining, somehow. These kind of things are only explained by the heavy consumption of alcohol. So, for this reason, notes are limited. Which is a good job, really, as nothing much happened. We played some stupid football quiz game thing and then sat discussing nothing in particular. We had beer, which we paid for with money, and we left when we had finished it. We then headed to the nearby chippy for the obligatory beer soak-up, before heading our separate ways into the night....