Last week, we went on our re-arranged Christmas team night out. Marylebone is a fantastic part of London, quirky shops, great food, atmospheric pubs. Seems to have retained it’s own character and hasn’t been swallowed up by the tourist trap that is Oxford Street just down the road.
I’ve been to quite a few pubs in the area, but by far the oddest, and not necessarily in a bad way, just from a curious social history perspective (as it’s stuck in 1943) is the Golden Eagle. It’s a proper pub or as it’s described in some quarters an “imbibing emporium”. Observe this contemporary scene.
On a “sing song” night, Tony “Fingers” Pearson wedges himself up in the corner of the pub, with his little Piano and tinkers out some classic songs (example – Moon River) and he is joined by up to a dozen dapper old chaps (some of whom wear cravats) who sing along. Occasionally a heavily made up and dyed of hair gin mother will join in, wearing some inappropriate fur wrap from some extinct mammal, but predominately, this is an old bloke thing.
There are all sorts of duffers in there, brylcreamed spivs, upper class dandies, rotund claret swiggers , dark suited heavies and jovial brick fisted navvies wearing their sunday best all singing along.
It’s quite friendly though, even if you wear clothing from the modern era and don’t talk like a minor character from an Ealing comedy.
I like it, it’s got character, others haven’t been so kind, one reviewer amusingly wrote :
“This is a creepy looking pub, it has the air of it being a living museum exhibit, i almost thought this was a set from little Britain. I've never seen so many misfits under one roof*, this place has an eerie air of unreality about it, It left me feeling quite depressed it was lucky I wasn't their when the pianist was playing, that would have freaked me out.”
*- I was probably in that day. And another wrote unfairly :
“This truly was a godforsaken place: the furniture looked like it had been bought from Steptoe & Son, the barman was as about as welcoming as a Death-Eater and the monged-out clientele looked like they hadn’t shifted since Thatcherism.”
(not fair in my opinion, they don’t know who Thatcher is after all)
And finally something positive, shouted out in capital letters :
“IT SERVES GREAT SAUSAGES”
Interestingly, my boss did tell me he took some Japanese visitors to the pub and they got a frosty reception. Probably because we are still at war right?
One of the weirdest things is the toilets though as you go downstairs and enter a perfectly normal corridor, but the corridor shrinks as you walk down it, like Alice in Wonderland, so you are almost squeezing yourself through a hatch to get into the loos. Being hobbit sized, I was surprised to find my afro flicking against the door frame as I walked in.
Anyway, try it for an experience, don’t let the bad reviews put you off, it’s a feel good place. And for any single guys, I suggest going dressed as an American Airman and try to hook yourself up with a 90 year old cockney sparrow. Make sure you use your impeccable Southern manners though.
Ps – If you are wondering about the art, it’s called Gin Lane, by Hogarth, an 18th Century Artist, Satirist and proto-comic book creator...