I enjoyed a little lie in after the extremes of the previous day and didn’t get up until around 06.30 hours and after showering etc I went for breakfast. I knew that on this day above most other days I needed food in my stomach. This was the day for The Jolly Boys’ Outing.
But before I give you the gory details of the day a bit of background information as to how the Jolly Boys’ Outing came about might be of interest (or not. You decide!).
I mentioned in a previous edition that my best friend John Townley and I first started working with each other in 1982 and this remained that way until 1995 when we went our separate ways. I , in a fit of pique, decided to leave News International (the company I’d been at for 24 years) when Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law was appointed above me. I was told that he wouldn’t be there long. All I had to do was nursemaid him. Make sure that nothing went wrong. I was so much younger then though and maybe had too much pride. So, I handed in my notice and left six months later.
John left the company a few months before me. He didn’t see his career going the way he had planned it (and John has always been a great planner. He produces a spreadsheet for the weekly shop!). John joined a newspaper and magazine distribution company and very quickly worked his way up the ladder. Ultimately being appointed Managing Director. Me? I stuck with newspapers and eventually (after a whirlwind 18 months working for the larger than life Richard Desmond) joined Mirror Group Newspapers (which subsequently became Trinity Mirror).
We both enjoyed very successful careers with our respective companies but in 2005 the major newspaper and magazine publishing companies put their distribution contracts out for tender.The ‘bidding’ was brutal because the three national distribution companies (Smiths News, Menzies Distribution and Dawson News (John was in charge of this company)) were fighting for survival.
Frontline (a company that held around a 34% share of the magazine business in the UK) decided not to appoint Dawson News. This was followed very soon after by the same decision by Mail Newspapers. This was one loss too many for Dawson News and it went in to administration. John was out of a job. I mean what company needs 2 managing directors.
Me? I concluded the contract negotiations and then was told that my services were no longer required. Redundant. No complaints though. These things happen.
So John and I (I did do some consultancy work but it didn’t keep me fully occupied) found ourselves with plenty of time on our hands. What could we do with it? Go to pubs that sold real ale that’s what. And so the Jolly Boys’ Outing (we’d meet every 6/8 weeks) began and it continued that way until Rose and I moved to Ambergris Caye 4 years ago. My trip to London provided the opportunity to go on an outing (all right, a piss up) again.
Knowing that we were going to savour.(OK, sink) a lot of beer I decided that it called for a full stomach so why not cross number 3 off of MY Cuisine List. Pie & mash was ideal fodder for the day that lay ahead of me so I set off for the dark side. I was going to South London. Manze’s pie and mash shop in Tower Bridge Road. And John was going to join me.
We were to meet there at 11.00 hours ((we had to get the food out of the ‘way’ early if we were going to have our first beer by noon (that is what John had planned – it was on the spreadsheet he sent me!)).
I got there slightly late (I’d under estimated the walking distance). John was there (told you he is good at planning!).
With meal number 3 off the list it was time for the fun (you could substitute mayhem) to begin. First stop The Royal Oak in Tabard Street (very close to Borough tube station)
John and I were just finishing our first pint when Geordie and Dave (they asked if they could join me) arrived. They’re both Northerners and didn’t fancy pie and mash so they’d gone to another pub instead!
By the way if you are ever in London and close to the Borough this is a pub well worth visiting. Great beers and a menu that you don’t expect to come across at a back-street pub. You don’t normally find fayre such as whitebait, duck liver pâté, rabbit in mustard sauce,game pie,goats cheese and beetroot salad. And they do great puddings too. All reasonably priced.
And the ‘governor’ is a very relaxed guy too!
The next stop was scheduled to be The Harp in Chandos Place but we took a slight detour for a walk around the wonderful Saint George the Martyr church.
We were just finishing our drinks when the co-partner of the pub we’d just left came in to the bar. He saw that we were about to leave and handed a twenty pound note to John. ” Have the drink at the next pub on me”, he said. It’s the truth.
Well we made it to The Harp and hadn’t been there long when we were joined by Jon Dyer, another ex-colleague and a good friend of mine.
I’ve got to admit now that the rest of the day is a bit of a blur. We definitely went to a few more pubs. I definitely drank a few more beers. I most definitely got drunk. We became a little bit silly. Definitely old enough to know better . But…
We did make it to a Chinese restaurant in China Town (none us can remember which one) where I managed to a) knock my beer over and b)fall up the stairs. Yes, up the stairs! It definitely was a case of “I can’t stand up for falling down“.
But the food did the trick (well for me anyway, the other guys appeared none the worse for wear) and we were able to finish off the day at De Hems Dutch Cafe Bar in Soho ( John with his planning skills had made sure that our final watering hole was close to my hotel).
A great day in great company (me excluded!).
The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1980 by Elvis Costello which reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart.