Once I'd confirmed I was
going to London, I sent an email to my English web hosts ...
> 29/7/02: Hi Guys,
Don't go into shock, but I'm flying to London this weekend! And
I'll be arriving on Monday and staying for a week. This is the first
stop on my European LETS Speaking Tour, taking me through 6 countries:
England, Spain, France, Germany, Norway and South Africa (yeah,
I know SA isn't in Europe!). So what's the chance of having a Guinness
with me? I promise to stay away from the ouzo, so what do you say?
If it doesn't sound too daunting, give me your contact address and
phone numbers so I can call you when I'm in London. Here's hoping
to have a drink with the web hosting marvels of the universe! James
And this is their reply
> 29/7/02: James,
Love to but we are in Bristol which is about 150 miles west of London.
If you are able to come over to Bristol we'll gladly take you to
one of our pubs for a sip of Guinness. Kind regards, Adam Saunders
And guess where I was going
to be staying in England ...
> 29/7/02: Hey Guys,
Are you serious? Bloody beauty! That's where I'm staying! (Vicarage
Rd, Whitehall)! So it looks like you've got yourself a drinking
buddy! OK. Where's that address and phone number. I'm looking forward
to seeing how you poms drink down there! James Taris
Well, that's how it all
So on day 2 of my stay in
England, I rang them.
"We were just talking about
you today," Adam said. "Didn't you fly in yesterday?"
Forty minutes later, Adam
and Mark were picking me up to go out drinking. Lots of English people
use bicycles or public transport to get around. But not these 24 year
old guys. I don't know what Adam drives, but I was sitting in the
back of Mark's late model Audi and feeling very comfortable indeed.
"Where would you like to
go?", they asked.
"Well, I'd really like to
have a pint of Guinness", I replied, trying to sound as knowledgeable
as I could. I don't usually drink much, but somehow they'd got that
impression (it must've been all those boozy emails I'd sent them!)
"OK. Lets' go to O'Neill's."
And off we went.
O'Nei'll's is an Irish pub.
Maybe it was a bit too early (about 8.10 pm), but it was pretty quiet
there. Hardly anyone around. However, it was a classy joint. Well
decorated with a relaxing atmosphere. Three pints of Guinness were
ordered, and the bartender managed to successfully spill the beer
down the sides of each glass ... just the way we like it in Australia!
This didn't seem to bother
Mark and Adam either. Due to a lack of drinking competition, we settled
comfortably into a couple of sofas at the back of the bar and started
"Can I sell web hosting
packages and get rich like you?", I asked.
"Of course you can", they
assured me. So out came the camera, and I proceeded to record this
memorable occasion with my young drinking buddies.
In no time at all, the drinks
"So where should we go now?"
one of them asked. "What about The Old Duke?" the other replied. And
so it was.
The Old Duke was quite a
contrast to O'Neill's. It was a Jazz Bar, with a live musician playing
the piano as he sang to a bar jam-packed with drinkers. He looked
like a hippie, with his jeans and long hair. But he was very professional.
His repertoire of songs consisted of 60's and 70's music, and he delivered
them with clarity and a smile on his face.
"What would you like to
drink now, James?"
"I'll have another Guinness
thanks." And so began stage 2 of our pub crawl.
Adam and Mark looked like
they could use some younger company, so when a young lady crossed
our path, I somehow managed to convince her to have her photo taken
with the lads. Then in a flash of brilliance, I persuaded her to take
a photograph of me and the lads together (our only photo as a threesome).
As she didn't seem at all interested in the guys, and chose to leave,
and as we'd just finished our drinks, we decided to go on to another
The discussion went something
like this ...
"We've been to an Irish
Bar. We've been to a Jazz Bar. Now where should we go?" And the answer
was almost blatantly obvious, or at least poetic. "Let's go to the
Roo Bar!" (Roo, as in KangaROO.)
The Roo Bar wasn't as packed
as The Old Duke, but it still had its fair share of drinkers (unlike
O'Neill's). And the hotel was decked out in an 'outback-slang' decor
The first thing that caught
my eye as I walked in was the row of bras hanging above the bar. There
must've been about 50 of them, in all colours, shapes and sizes. The
toilets were fondly named 'Sheilas' and 'Blokes'. And the beer? Need
you ask! There wasn't a Guinness in sight. Only Aussie beers were
on tap. So I ordered a pint of Fosters, and then that's when it happened!
After only a sip (it must've
been the fact that I'd mixed my drinks. I suppose you can't follow
a Guinness with a Fosters!). After only a sip, my young buddies were
ducking for cover as I unleashed a barrage of jokes on them, which
seemed to come from nowhere and seemed to have no end. They copped
everything from my famous 'Bat joke' to the tasteless (pardon the
pun) 'First Anatomy Class joke'.
Poor Adam had this look
of shock on his face, while Mark got so desperate for me to stop,
that he even offered to give me his car (which I would've accepted,
but I'm only allowed 20 kls. baggage on my flight back home).
But thankfully for everyone,
the 11 o'clock bell sounded, and the bar was closed. I looked at my
glass and it was still almost full. The English lads had finished
drinking and this old Aussie guy was still trying to catch up! Apparently
it's against the law to leave any beer in your glass, so after sculling
it down, we staggered (OK. I staggered) back to the car singing 'Kookaburra
Sits In The Old Gum Tree' with my learned friends.
Moments later I was back
home drinking a cup of coffee and licking my wounds.
It was a fantastic night!