My friends and I love pub crawls, but I think of late we have come to feel a little jaded. I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm. We surely can’t have been doing this for so long that we’ve run out of pubs.
Well, you can tell something’s gone wrong because we’ve been racking our brains trying to think of ways to bring the flame back. Bored lovers can turn to self-help books like 50 Shades of Grey and buy a butt-plug and a whip, but where is the bored pub crawler supposed to turn? Well, we have to survive on our wits, ingenuity and beer. The beer helps quite a lot. So what we’ve come up with is Birthday Wine Suit Chops. The premise? A pub crawl where we all wear suits, have sideburns and drink wine. I don’t even like wine, but that’s the lengths I was thinking about being prepared to go to in order to be able to go out and have an extended drinking session. And it proved a more popular idea than Birthday Butt-plug Chops.
I’ve been meaning to go out drinking in my suit for some time, so it’s good to be able to say that finally it has happened.
Circumstances though, weren’t ideal. It was still the middle of January, and it coincided with the week that winter finally hit the UK. That meant one or two people pulled out. It also meant that my beautifully tailored suit had to be squashed inside my winter coat for the trek between drinking venues. It held up pretty well though.
Given the potential for slipperiness, I had toyed with the idea of wearing my trainers with the suit, all Rab C Nesbitt style, because they would be grippier than my work shoes (which I don’t like wearing anyway), but when I put them on, they just looked shit. Somehow they’ve gotten all scuffed up and scruffy recently, and they’ve crossed that line from smart casual, be careful when you choose to wear them… to doesn’t matter, don’t give a shit. There’s always an event that marks this transition, like going on holiday and wearing them on the beach, or walking through a park and having to kick a muddy ball back to some lads, but this time I can’t recall what the event was. Long story short; work shoes it was, then.
Suitwise, I decided to wear the bespoke one because the other two are for work, and I didn’t want our pub crawl to feel like work. Paul even elected to wear a tie, but I wanted to look a bit scruffier than that – good still, but just a little scruffier.
We headed out then, with the intention of beginning at 4pm. I had emptied the last of my Dewar’s 12 into my hipflask, and already had a warm up beer at the house. I had a couple of warming swigs of whisky on the bus, and made it to our meeting point, the Port Street Beerhouse at around 4.10. I ordered my pint – an unadventurous pint of Veltins - and Paul arrived a few minutes later.
When Dave arrived (late as usual) we considered buying a bottle of wine to push the theme forward, but on investigation Dave found the cheapest was £17, and he didn’t think that was good value. I thought that was about average, but he just bought a glass for himself, and Paul and I continued with the pints.
Before I get on to how good it was, I’ll get the disappointing elements out of the way. First, even though Dave had formally organised the evening, he hadn’t saved any money for it, so he was pretty skint, and wouldn’t be staying out all night. Similarly, Paul was thinking he wouldn’t be up for the steak that we had had planned all along. Frankly it was bad enough that there were only three of us, but I hope this isn’t a sign of getting old, or that people don’t want to spend more than a couple of hours with me… that would be quite depressing. It’s more likely that they saw how good my suit looked, and realised they couldn’t compete. I’m surprised they stayed at all.
Nevertheless, it was good, and I did manage to get suitably smashed. We didn’t struggle nearly as much as usual with venues, calling at Gullivers as our second stop. I tried to amuse everyone by comparing the corners of those studded leather armchairs to the foofoo, perineum and bottom of a lady. No one else found it as funny as I did, but it did look like it. I should have taken a photo really, because I don’t think there’s any way you can know what I mean. I would have too, but I didn’t realise it was going to be an abiding memory at the time.
From there we pursued my idea, which was to drink in hotel bars for a change. Paul mentioned the Mercure Hotel at the back of Piccadilly Gardens, which is supposed to be one of Manchester’s best kept secrets. Hotel bars are more spacious, quieter and more relaxed than your standard Saturday evening pub experience (if a little lacking in atmosphere), so a Newcastle Brown Ale by the big window looking down on Piccadilly Gardens was bang on. Even from that height, Piccadilly Gardens remains the ugliest and probably dodgiest central square in any major European city (I would think).
A stop in one of those tiny pubs on Portland Street was next, followed by the bar at the Palace Hotel, which is very opulent – and has table service, so that was nice. It is perfectly fine of course to drink in the various hotel bars, but this is the first time I’ve done it and not been actually resident. There’s something about it that normally feels wrong. Not when you’re in a suit! For some reason a suit brings a degree of confidence and entitlement. It makes you walk more confidently, and you can actually perceive a difference in the way people treat you. It could be the confidence you’re projecting, but you can see that people are impressed. Who’s that?, they ask each other.
Dave left us after the Palace, and Paul and I thought it would be fun to go to a metal pub in our suits, so we crossed the road and went to the Salisbury, which was perfectly fine. No one batted an eyelid, though outside one guy did ask me for business advice. I took the request seriously, as a man in full possession of several pints of beer (and a snappy suit) would, but really, how was I supposed to know whether he should take on the extra work, and what was he asking me for anyway?
Paul left at this point, and I headed back to Gulliver’s to see Rob Riot and his band, Precious McKenzie. As ever, it was a pleasure to see Rob flying the flag for fun but challenging rock n’ roll. Check em out sometime. It’s not a blog about music, but they deserve a mention.
Finally it was off home for a kebab, and a bit of Match of the Day. A pretty good day and night out, if not a great pub crawl then. I think in its midst we came up with a few ideas for future excursions, but I can’t remember them now; perhaps the others can. Even if not, good ideas don’t disappear forever – if you’ve had a good idea once, it will come to you again. That’s what I’ve always found anyway.
As for the suits; well I’d definitely go out in one again. Just thinking about it now makes me miss the snug fit of the waistcoat and the feeling that I look fricking awesome… You should try it.
That’s it from me for a couple of weeks, then. On Sunday I’m flying over to Spain for a week of golf and booze, and it’s going to be awesome. You can follow me on Twitter of course – I’ll try to tweet when there’s wi-fi available – but there won’t be a new post until somewhere around 28 June. Try not to miss me too much.