Visited: Saturday 28 February 2009
I arrived in the capital yesterday for London Popfest 2009 and was knackered all night from overwork, band practices and hard bloggin’. Today I’m refreshed (but not yet in the sense of drunk) and the George & Vulture is a good place to meet a few friends from the indiepop scene for a couple of lunchtime pints before I nip round the corner to play at the Macbeth for the third day of the Popfest.
Like a lot of London pubs of its type, it’s light, bright and airy and high-ceilinged, a single big room at the bottom of a five-storey building. It’s also been done out to appeal to a fairly fashionable demographic, but not too much, not to the extent (at least this lunchtime) that it should become some kind of exclusive showroom for Hoxton hair and put off drinkers who give less of a stuff about these things. You might get, say, Tim Lovejoy standing at the bar in here, but it wouldn’t put you off your pint too much because Adrian Chiles might be sitting in the corner.
In short, it still feels like a pub. Not a ‘bar’. So under the till there’s an eight-track sound mixer with an iPod Nano plugged in to it, but on the bar there are three real ales from Fuller’s.
I go for Discovery, the lightest of them all (trying not to get drunk before I go on stage), and it’s a summery, sweet sodapop of a thing, insubstantial but delightful; you could imagine collapsing on the grass of a beer garden, all sweaty after a kickabout down the park in June, and necking a pint of this in one go. Characteristically for London the beer is served by an Australian. Less typically, I don’t even need to ask them to leave a bit of a head on the pint. Well done!
We sit and natter for an hour or so before a text message tells me my bandmates have arrived at the Macbeth and it’s time to go and soundcheck. I love the way life takes me to random places like this; there must be dozens of pubs, if not hundreds, that I’ve visited once and probably won’t again, not because they’re bad pubs but because I was just passing through on my way to play or watch a gig, or I’d just missed a train and fancied killing an hour with a book or just people-watching; and I’ll never even remember half of these pubs but every fleeting visit to one of them has enriched my life in tiny but meaningful ways. If life is a rich tapestry, pubs can be the fabric it’s stitched on to.