What Can You Say About South London?

Details are often sketchy after Deserter’s weekly editorial meeting, but normally I at least leave with a clear idea of what I’m saying about the London below the Thames next week, be it a think piece on South London’s Sexiest Nuns, or, If Peckham Was Pasta, What Kind Of Pasta Would It Be?

But this time my only note reads: ‘What to write about’, which is more of a question than an answer. So here is an article on what to write about, that includes our dreams, our plans and our burden:

Motability Scooter Pub Crawl

Ready to rock
Ready to rock

The best bit of a pub crawl is the pubs. The worst bit is the crawl. Why crawl? Why not sit down, be your very own chauffeur, with a lovely little basket for your tinnies? Even the barren inter-pub stretches become pauses in which to gaze on the land you love, smoking your leaf of choice, in the company of the your favourite idiots. It’s like a day trip into what old age could be. The first of the summer wine.

The Dulwich Raider, Half-life, Roxy and I are due to set out on the Thames Path visiting every riverside pub in our territory at a stunning 8mph. At that speed, the entire world (between Lambeth and Thamesmead: Venice of the South-East) will be within our grasp. My chosen steed is the Pride Pursuit, though quite what disabled pensioners need to pursue, remains a mystery, if not a worry.

Vinopolis on Acid

Land of boozes
Land of boozes

It is with great sadness that we heard Vinopolis is closing at the end of 2015. Not only will 180 jobs be lost, along with 2 and a half acres of underground boozes, but we now have a challenging deadline in which to complete the research element of our feature: Vinopolis on Acid.

One key decision has already been made: Deserter sidekick Half-life will not be invited, even if he is supplying the gear. I do not want to be stumbling around a vaulted maze with bricks waving like corn in the wind with a six-foot psycho in a dress who thinks he’s a pterodactyl. Not again. It’s not inanimate objects turning into sentient beings that worry me; it’s Half-life.

A Day at the Cricket (if not Five)

Gates to civilised boozes
Gates to civilised boozes

You can stick your cage fighting; the sport for real hard nuts is Test Cricket. For a start it’s five days long, like some kind of job. And after drinking at The Oval for seven solid hours you are turfed out into the world only to find it’s still daylight and time to go the pub.

I honestly don’t know how people do it. To be a proper cricket fan, you need vast resources of time, money and organ regeneration. Becoming cricket twunts is our dream. We are even prepared to learn some of the rules of the sport we love.

Oval Tube
Oval Tube madness

Donkey Ride Micropub Triangle

While the micropub revolution struggles to gain a foothold in London due to extortionate rent, the outskirts are having all the microfun. The Dulwich Raider did tackle, at great physical expense, the Gyspy Hill Triangle, but Late Knights’ bars, as glorious as they are, are more like giant micropubs. Currently though, we’re anticipating the completion of the borderlands micropub triangle, where more people are likely to go missing than in the Bermuda variety.

That means we await, with fevered excitement, the opening of The Broken Drum, in little-known Blackfen, halfway between Nowhere and Nothing. On that happy day we will be able to walk from The Long Pond (Eltham) to The Door Hinge (Welling) and on to the Drum. And then to The Long Pond again. It’s a bit of a hike, with little of note on the way. That’s why we’re going to hire donkeys. Or large dogs.

The Highest Pint in South London

We presume the highest pint in South London will be found at the highest pub on its highest hill: The Bull, on Shooter’s Hill. But there’s only one way to be sure and that’s to start at the bottom, eliminating all other contenders on the way to the summit.

Once we’ve discounted all other pubs in South London through a process of science and a free altitude app, we will raise the highest pint on the right side of London. And then get even higher, with a spliff the size of a Cornetto.

Gay South London

Drag racing in Greenwich
Drag racing in Greenwich

One of our gay friends, Robert, aka Roberta Slack, has kindly offered to take us on a tour of South London’s best LGBT watering holes. Or, as he called it: ‘A bender bender.’ That means visits to Vauxhall, Clapham and Greenwich, though Robert tells us it’s a shrinking field.

‘You used to be able to get a hand shandy in any pub in London. Now it’s just a shandy,’ he mourned.

The only one on the itinerary that I’ve been to is Ye Rose & Crown in Greenwich, a fine trad boozer which I’ve always thought of as a ‘straight-friendly’ gay pub. When I was there with family, my brother enquired innocently:

‘Have you got a Semillon?’

The barman winked and said: ‘I have now.’

If Sid James did gay bars, we’d Carry On camping.

One at the Railway

‘Just going for one at The Railway, my love.’

And off he went to keep his word at the Railway Tavern, in Longfield, Kent. He then jumped on a train, went one stop to Sole Street and went to The Railway Inn and had a pint. Next, he got another train, went one more stop to Meopham, to another Railway Tavern and had a pint. He followed this manoeuvre by taking the train one stop back and returning to the Railway Inn to enjoy a pint. Then, he got the train back to his starting point, went to the Railway Tavern and had a pint.

‘Where have you been?’ asked his wife of her slightly pie-eyed partner.

‘I’ve been to the Railway for one,’ he slurred.

There is nothing to be gained from lying.

This beautiful story was also brought to me by my brother and we intend recreating that Railway magic in South London, though without the magnificent simplicity of three adjacent stations. The journey would have to take in Tulse Hill, Clapham, Streatham, Blackheath and Bromley; a much more testing journey, with the added minefield of timetables, route making and tinnies on the train.

By the way, if you’ve got something to say about South London that’s funny and sort of true, or have some Deserter tactics you’d like to share, drop us a line at hello@deserter.co.uk with your idea. We may be able to use you to make us look good.

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