is one of those few cities defined to some extent by its pub
community. Like Dublin, and to some extent New York and Boston on
this side of the Atlantic, when many people think of England's seat of
power they think of a publican’s nirvana.
There are, quite literally, volumes written on the subject of London’s
staggeringly numerous and vibrant taverns and public houses. So
many of them in fact, that proper pre-travel preparation is a near
impossibility. But one thing I have learned in my years searching
for the perfect pub is that no matter how hard you look you will never
find it. The perfect pub needs to find you.
The Tower of London
I popped in and out of quite a few pubs in my two short days in
London. In almost all of them the beer was exquisite and the
atmosphere welcoming. I found many I would happily recommend to
the thirsty traveler, but like I said, you will never fully fall in love
when you are looking for love.
We had come to Britain for the football, and to London to see my beloved
Tottenham Hotspur play. But whenever I travel I do enjoy me a bit
of the touristy fare, and at the top of my list was the Tower of
London. We had been drinking and singing (yes, in England you sing
for 90-plus minutes at a football match) for a few days, so we were a
tad bit tired to say the least when we made it to the tower. Plus,
it was January so the temperature was not entirely conducive to touring
a city and a castle on foot.
So after a few hours of English history, consisting mostly of horrible
stories about executions of mostly innocent young women told in as witty
and lighthearted a manner was possible, it was certainly time for a
The agreed upon itinerary called for us to adjourn to a local pub after
touring the Tower grounds. Without knowing exactly which direction
to head, we wondered up towards the A100 and gazed around. And
could we have found a more fitting place than one named The Hung Drawn
& Quartered? Not likely.
I must admit I was somewhat struck by the almost flippant attitude
towards torture and brutal execution shown by tourists and tour-guides
alike at the Tower of London. I rarely find the horrific actions
of royalty amusing. But for some strange reason, with the actual
site of said horrors only steps away, it works quite well as a pub’s
The Hung Drawn and Quartered somehow strikes the proper balance between
the lunacy and the awful. There is little gallows humor to be
found here, and everything is presented rather tastefully, all things
considered. While it may be to some at least, disconcerting to
enjoy a tasty pint of ale while a noose hangs ominously overhead, to
others, its just the way of things around these parts. Let us not
forget that public executions, the descriptions of which are often
stomach-churning to say the least, were perhaps the single most popular
form of public entertainment in their heyday.
And it is hasn’t been lost on me that I traveled thousands of miles, at
an enormous cost, to sit amongst thousands of fellow fanatics to watch
22 millionaires, somewhat ego-maniacal, players prance around a grass
pitch kicking a little round ball to a chorus of rabid fans which, on
more than one occasion in many places around the world, has turned into
deadly violence. So instead of an autographed jersey or a replica
trophy, perhaps it is altogether fitting for a pub in this particular
location to pick the theme it has chosen. I mean, after standing
in the London rain for hours and cheering for a hanging, one must have
worked up one a hell of a thirst. And if The Hung Drawn and
Quartered were around centuries ago, I suppose it wouldn’t be too far
off a medieval equivalent of a sports bar, proudly hanging its hat
(excuse the pun) on the local’s most popular spectator event.
Always endeavor to keep your head in stressful times!
Make your own caption.