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No Grapes of wrath here


The Grapes
Wandsworth
London SW18 1DX
Tel: 020 8874 3414

STOUT was on a crawl about rather than a pub crawl. The crawl started on a Saturday afternoon and finished on a Sunday and Stout is thankful there won’t be another one until next year. He got lost twice, done all his dough, dithered over a large bag of chips and drank his way around the borough in between.

They call it the Billy Collins Jnr memorial tour – a toast to the memory of the late Irish-American boxer who was destined to be great and fittingly there was more than 12 rounds to the journey.

Stout’s not sure if he saw the twelfth. Yes, he knows it brings a whole new meaning to the term punch drunk, but he remembers speaking Irish shortly before bedtime and he only does that in very emotional circumstances. It was probably no harm that he missed round one then. He was there for two, three and round four was his best.

That stanza brought a high-class performance out of both publican and drinker.

Stout missed the door of The Grapes at first passing, but there was no missing the cheery atmosphere that waited inside. It was Saturday evening, Manchester United were playing Aston Villa on the box and Des the landlord was behind the bar serving the crawl and suggesting  that it come to a standstill and stay for the evening.

If only Stout has taken your advice Des. So Stout ordered a creamy one and he had it on good word that The Grapes did good Guinness and no, that recommendation didn’t come from Scoops or The Jar, but from another aficionado of the black stuff.

The tap went down and Stout got into his pouring bubble. It’s not often the process consumes his focus, Stout has a wandering mind, a short-attention span and gets bored very easily, but never will the twain of these traits meet during the pouring of a pint.

So Des stuck it up on the bar after the first pour and leaned against the counter to chat until it came time for the second. I later learned that the publican was from Athlone, the home of Sean’s Bar, reputed to be the oldest porter house in Ireland – good brewing stock is right!

So Stout drank up and after the first sup he hoped that the match would hold the crowd or stall the crawl. If it wasn’t for Billy Collins Junior it might have, but Billy would have fought to the twelfth and that meant the gang had to too.

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Old Vic MPU

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