40 Great Queen Street
STOUT had been saving up his credits from Christmas. There was a week or two when he stayed in on Friday and Saturday watching reruns of The Morning Line and enjoying that time of the day too. It couldn’t last. It didn’t have to either. Stout has that Sky+ thing at home now so he can watch The Morning Line in the afternoon before the horse racing begins.
It was a late start this week — The Morning Line, not the racing. But then it was a late night. Stout is blaming Niall Quinn. Yes, the former Ireland and Arsenal striker turned Sunderland goal-poacher, turned chairman, turned extender of opening hours in central London on a Friday night.
The gang had retired after work to O’Neill’s in Holborn to watch the rugby. Ulster were playing Leicester in the Heineken Cup and one of the gang is from Belfast. He has never been to Ravenhill and probably never watched a full rugby match. But Stout was there, helping him support his province. Ulster won! “Of course we did,” said our man later. But we didn’t know much about the match. We were only cocking the occasional snook at the screen and focusing on the stout.
The pouring process didn’t start as well as Ulster, but once it got going it finished as strong. By the time Niall Quinn and his entourage rocked in, the pints were picture perfect but to be fair to the lads, they had sampled plenty by that stage. Maybe it was a hangover from being in Ireland all Christmas, but for some reason, it felt like last orders was only ever one last pint away and there was the sinking feeling we were going to be left short.
Once the Mighty Quinn arrived though that was never going to be a problem, the big man assumed position at the far end of the bar and we watched intently as one of his party placed the order. We couldn’t hear with the noise but our eyes would never deceive us and when a pint of Guinness was handed across the bar — a cheer went up. The boy Quinner! Now Stout hasn’t always been a fan. There was a time after Ireland were knocked out of the 2002 World Cup by Spain, that Stout was aggrieved the Sunderland chairman never put his hand up to take a penalty. On this night, in Holborn however, all was forgiven.
And what a homage to the gang — his presence in the bar lengthened the night and then some. With Quinner there, the pints just kept on coming. The following day, Stout flicked on the football results to see that Sunderland had been beaten 1-0 by Chelsea. Stout wondered how Quinner might have squared that with himself, because Stout was having difficulty squaring his hangover and he wasn’t even the last to leave!
It was one of those ones.
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The Pour: 3
The Appearance: 4
The Taste: 3
The Ambience: 4