Day 14 - Tuesday 27th January 2004 (Map)
As we head for
quite a good place,
103 – Eden (
The only bar
It then gets
surreal (just the way we like it really, otherwise there’d be nothing to
write about). A guy sat at the
bar with a pint chats cheerfully with the barman – he’s apparently
meeting the most beautiful Vietnamese guy ever.
“I wouldn’t know” replies the barman, a little uncomfortably.
In an effort to ease this discomfort, he asks where Vietnamese are
from, rather unfortunately. “
When sat down,
we later overhear (it’s not hard) the same customer refer to FHM and how
he used to love reading the top 100 she-males (huh?).
We turn our attention to the surroundings – it’s another dim
lights and brown sofas place, which suits us fine.
104 – Manto (
It's a bit cold here in and £5 for two pints of Carling. We curse (well, spaceman does) as we realise that happy hour kicks in at 8pm (it's just turned 7pm). D'oh! It's a good offet, though - buy one get one free until midnight. We take a seat facing the central area, with the bar to our left, on a nice comfy sofa, surprisingly (brown too - score three out of three!). Barney reckons that it was briefly called something other than Manto a short time ago, but can't remember what except that it was only for 4 or 5 months. (Bar 46 we think/discover later, much later - days rather than hours.) There's a little row of computers offering internet access to the right as you come in, which is reasonably new (although spaceman hasn't been here for a while).
Barney notices that "Manto - buy one get one free" is projected onto the building opposite in very large, rotating words. Neat trick. Barney also notices (on good form, it seems) the letters m-a-n-t-o hanging from the ceiling, rotating slowly. Spaceman is first to venture forth to the lavatorial facilities (surprise), for which, it seems, you have to go up to the first floor, then out into the stairway corridor, and up again, into a lushly decorated (in red) lounge-type area, which perhaps serves as a restaurant too. You have to circumnavigate a DJ's equipment (so to speak) to get there (surely these can't be the nearest ones).
Can't remember what the toilets were actually like, though. Note to customers: on the way back, don't go down too many flights of stairs, as spaceman once did. You find yourself back out on Canal Street. It's still quite empty in here (and deserted upstairs). We muse that, given the happy hour at 8pm, the place perhaps gets busier then. Maybe, we wonder, they are after the partying crowd, rather than the post-work crowd? Who knows. We don't ask and aren't particularly bothered. This isn't market research. This is alcoholism. Speaking of which, we have drained our glasses and require more beer. Off we go...
105 – Spirit (
Barney's been here a bit recently - there are three levels, apparently. There's a lounge bar, a roof terrace and a restaurant. It's £4.70 for two pints of Fosters and spaceman spies a quiz machine. But we have to wait our turn as it is occupied. Initially, this seems to be spaceman's first visit, but no, it rings a small bell somewhere. Barney has been to the restaurant and seems to think that it served up quite good food. The roof garden is good in the summer (it's all flooding back to spaceman now). We finally get a go on the quiz machine but kinda wish we hadn't. Several relatively fruitless attempts to win money on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire later and we head off back into the chilly night...
106 – The
A first time visit for both of us. We go into a quiet side first, where there are no draught pumps; just a guy drinking a can (of Special Brew, we initially think) so we move quickly and quietly to the other side, which is vast in comparison. It's £4.00 for two pints of Carling, and we get two packets of crisps as well, in a vague attempt to ward off the fast-approaching munchies. As we sit down, spaceman dashes off to the toilets, but hasn't a clue where they are. After a fair few seconds of headless chicken behaviour, spaceman gives in and asks some random bloke standing around on his own, who quickly points out the gents right behind spaceman.
The helpful but sarcastic gentlemen asserts that spaceman may not have visited this establishment before. He's right, of course, but it doesn't make him Einstein. Unless Einstein was the master of stating the bloody obvious. Someone else on this side is drinking from a can of lager too - it's not Special Brew we decide. It seems to be more like some cheap European beer (although it does look a little like Special Brew from a distance). We finish up (beer and crisps) and head off...
107 – Bar Med (
It's completely deserted here - the barmaid looks slightly surprised but pleased to see us. We're quite pleased to see her too as she tells us it's £2.98 for two pints of Fosters ("only in January!" she hastens to add). It was snowing outside on the way - it's the first time we've seen snow for ages. We think it's not going to stick but as we sit in Bar Med by the window, it gets heavier and heavier - big thick flakes that are bound to stay intact when they hit the streets. They do tapas, but it ain't exactly El Rincon, spaceman reckons. The toilets are easy to miss here, but colourful. As we make our way onwards, it's still very quiet here...
108 – The Garrett (
Barney takes over the diarising as, basically, spaceman can't be arsed. There's a pool table, which we immediately head for, a hot heater and short pool cues (necessary due to the confined space). Two pints of Fosters set us back £4.60, and the Streets album plays over the speakers. Spaceman sneaks the first frame on the black as barney notices an odd crowd and four older people. And some nice wooden floors. Barney also spots an odd bloke with funny hair with a red and green stripe. As in a red stripe and a green stripe. In his hair. Which make him look odd. And he's a bloke.
Barney comes roaring back to take the pool 2-1 before some bloke challenges barney to a game. Spaceman darts off to the toilet (ok, it seems like a lot, but it's a lot of alcohol we get through) and on returning discovers barney ensconced in a game with said challenger, even though the beers are finishing. Still, the Stone Roses are playing on the sound system with 'Waterfall' and the snow is still falling. Barney beats the challenger too and bounds gleefully out of the pub, with spaceman sauntering behind...
109 – Sofa (
The skulking doesn't last too long, however, as the snowfall is really coming along and the pub crawlers get all excited. That's what seven pints and two inches (of snow) does for us. We have (drunken) snowball fights and everything - it's great. Everywhere is pure and white and untouched (except where barney and spaceman have just come staggering from). It's £3 for two pints of Castlemaine XXXX as we gravitate towards the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire quiz machine again. Which turns out, in fact, to be The Weakest Link. It's no more generous to us. Increasingly bleary-eyed, we stumble back out into the unfamiliar blank-canvas world...
110 – Lass O’ Gowrie (
A hat-trick of new bars on the trot, we take stock and discuss where the hell we're up to. It's not a bad place, this. We spot another quiz machine, but this time we can't be arsed to have a go - we've suffered enough. We start to consider Monsoons, a local kebab place (see Where To Eat) and the possibility of throwing more (increasingly inaccurate) snowballs at each other. They brew their own beer here, barney reckons. It's well after last orders here and we swiftly find ourselves alone with the bar staff and lots of upturned chairs. We're not getting any hassle, but we take the hint and head off for some chicken tikka specials at Monsoons (with, in spaceman's case, everything but the cucumber and mint sauce)...