The Union Jack Club
City of London SE1 8UJ
Tel: 020 7902 6000
YES, you read the name right. Stout was in the Union Jack Club down Waterloo way. He holds both hands up, and that’s not some play on the fact he was an ex-army services’ club, just a declaration of honesty. Yes sir, no joke, Stout enjoyed a sup of black stuff in the Jack.
So how does a self-respecting Guinness drinker end up behind ‘enemy’ lines? Well, a meeting with a sound engineer is an equally obscure and unlikely explanation, but that is what it was.
Stout was learning about the workings of radio, instead of listening to it, part of his journalistic beat on a Wednesday down Waterloo way.
To get into the Union Jack wasn’t as difficult as it sounds. There was no Sentry on duty, only an aging Asian man in military attire to welcome us in.
Stout made for the bar, cutting through a lobby that felt mint fresh it was so neat, before finding himself in an oasis of calm. Heck it might have been in another country, never mind postcode.
There was an old soldier at the bar. A hardy looking soul dressed in a kilt and furry boots. He gave Stout a short nod – the respectful acknowledgement of one service man to another.
This was something that felt written but remained unsaid. If you were in The Union Jack, then it followed that you must have seen action in some far-flung dominion at some time or other.
Stout felt like a phony, but hey, he wasn’t about to say it to the old general – not half way through a Guinness pour. And anyway the delivery was looking good, patient even after years of excellent service. Well, if you had done your country proud , then this was somewhere you would be!
Stout liked the order of the place, the feeling of conformity, this venue of standards and reduced- price-pints, if you were in the company of an ex-serviceman of course.
You could set your watch to the top up, thought Stout. And boy, he wasn’t far wrong. The barman even wandered down the counter to chat to another ex-army fella while the pint was settling. Yep, it was that type of place.
So when the jar settled, stout supped up and made for the restaurant, there was one of those in the Jack too, with a menu full of meat and potato dishes. Well like the saying goes, you wouldn’t go to war on an empty stomach.