Archive for June 25th, 2008

The Ship Tavern
June 25, 2008

The Ship Tavern Stained Glass, originally uploaded by currybet.

On Sunday I was wandering around Covent Garden with friends and we found ourselves in Holborn. There is only one pub I know there and they are usually closed on Sundays but we tried anyway and– wonders– The Ship Tavern is now open on Sundays. This tiny back street pub is over 400 years old, but it’s not resting on its history or pandering to tourists (even though it seems to be featured on a “Haunted London” walk– I’ve never seen a ghost there, or a throng of tourists for that matter, but apparently during the reign of Henry VIII it was a place where clandestine Catholic mass was held. Some of the priests were found and executed in the tavern).

The people working the bar there are always friendly. Sunday they had on four real ales which the landlord offered for us to try. I fell or the Everards Sunchaser– very light and delicately hoppy, served a little cooler than cellar temperature, it was perfect for the rather hot day, as was the dark, cool pub which was lit with candles. We sat in a both that was stocked with lovely old books. The place was quiet, just my friends and two deaf women signing to each other. On the stereo Nina Simone and Dawn Penn made it feel like a home-away-from-home.

Soap Opera Ale
June 25, 2008

Kind of like the mermaid in Splash, when I moved to London I watched the telly to acculturate.  I found myself addicted to Eastenders.  After a year of rationalizing my affection for the Square, I forced myself to give it up.

It’s been a couple years since I went cold turkey but the other day I watched the omnibus on the BBC iPlayer.  Real ale is featured for a brief moment when Vinnie and Shirley put on a “Best of British” party at the Queen Vic, and the whole place is decked out in British Flags (No St. George flags to be seen– so much for realism).  There’s a little cask sitting on the bar and Shirley asks Vinnie disparagingly if anyone is drinking the “Speckled whatever” he’s got on.

Later in the episode there’s a dramatic fire and the British flag is used to catch Mickey as his sister Dawn pushes him, unconscious, from the burning building.  Later, the good-for-nothing Keith actually saves his daughter while wrapped in the same flag.  I thought maybe Shirley would use the cask of Speckled Whatever to douse the flames since it wasn’t selling in the pub, but the beer was only making a cameo.