Thursday, December 07, 2006

Inside Man II

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the pub...

The Inside Man’s infiltration has been short-lived, but with the holidays on the horizon and a new career waiting in the New Year (or so the fortune cookie would have us believe), Tam is ending his tenure at the Crown and Sceptre this week. In addition to the thrill of being called “barman” on a regular basis, his time inside has yielded some useful information about drinking in London. While this slang doesn’t rhyme, it might help you out if, some day, you find yourself behind the bar in an English pub taking orders for drinks you’ve never heard of from people whose accents you don’t understand.

Shandy: Half lemonade, half beer (usually lager)
Shandygaff: Half ginger ale or ginger beer, half beer (usually lager); the omniscient Wikipedia claims that "this drink is known to have existed in England since the 1600s"
Snake Bite: Half hard cider, half lager, with a shot of black currant cordial (lime and black currant cordials seem to be popular additions to pints of lager and, in the case
of the latter, Guinness)
Lager Top: Beer with a small splash of lemonade; as the name indicates, this is usually made with lager as well, but in his short time behind the bar, Tam served several ale tops and shandies
One of the unique things about the Crown and Sceptre is the international bar staff. With Tam’s short-lived tenure, the staff includes representatives from five of the seven continents - and there really aren’t that many Antarctican pint pullers. Incidentally, Tam creamed his colleagues in a recent round of Trivial Pursuit: The International Version, wherein each color represents a continent (also unapologetically excluding Antarctica; we suppose there just aren't that many questions to be asked about penguins).

Our local second division football (soccer) team is the Queens Park Rangers (QPR), whose pitch is nary two blocks from our flat. Since long before it was acquired by Fullers, the Crown and Sceptre has been the pre-match meeting place for QPR fans. One aspect of this interesting local-to-locals relationship is the presence of this portrait of the QPR mascot, the Rapid Ranger, on the wall between the bar and the kitchen. When Mike the Manager first took the reins of the pub just over a year ago with an eye towards its dandification, he thought of selling the portrait and hanging some less-kitschy black and white prints in its place. He received bids in excess of £3,000. But, just before he got it off his hands, he got a message from the Fullers central management office stating that under no circumstances and for no sum was he to part with this priceless work of art. Consequently, Sotheby's won't be descending on the Crown and Sceptre any time soon.


Anonymous said...

Please tell me how this relates in to ANY character, let alone the obvious, from Deconstructing Harry.

gidstar said...

Hi - The portrait of Rapid Ranger is by the photographer Gideon Hart. It was taken just ten years ago, commissioned by the previous owners of the pub. Rapid Ranger was twice winner of the greyhound derby at Wimbledon dog track. If you need any more info about the picture, go to and drop an email.