The fact that I can remember our Freshers’ Pub Crawl, held on Friday 31st October 2014, obviously shows you that I didn’t quite do the event correctly. On the Thursday night there had been a serious incident at my college where alcohol had been a factor, and the Principal assembled us for a meeting on Friday afternoon to emphasise the importance of caution when drinking. That I would be leaving for the pub crawl a few short hours after this meeting was an irony difficult to miss (quite funny too!) And so, at about 5.15, I arrived at Kings Cross and after a confused telephone conversation (mostly my fault), I eventually found Ben Meyer, the organiser, just round the corner from where I was standing. We went to pub no. 1, located right in the heart of the railway station, and found Harry there.
I must admit that I was slightly apprehensive of this event. I am, after all, a mere Fresher and would have to drink alongside hardened veterans. Would I cope? Would I even survive the event? I certainly hoped so– I was due to ring in a peal the next morning. Ryan Noble, who organised the peal, might be very cross with me if I missed the peal through being dead. I told Ben and Harry my slightly sissy plan to have just a half pint at each pub and water to go with it. “You might not get that option,” replied Ben. My verbal response: “Ah right, OK then, yeah that’s fair enough.” My mental response: “(Gulp) Wh-what does he mean I won’t get the option?” Ben then showed us his magic bag containing the names of drinks on little slips of paper which we’d then have to select at random before each pub (the bag itself may also come in handy later). Thus, we were now the mere playthings of fate.
Pub no. 2 was very crowded and a woman tutted at me for standing in the way. We drank alfresco style in the street. Here we were joined by a skeleton with Rupert Littlewood’s head on it. I had already seen other skeletons, demons, and blood-stained persons this evening. Do all the people look like this in Kings Cross? I then remembered that it was Halloween and realised that Rupert was wearing a costume. Thank goodness for that.
At The Lucas Arms we were joined by many more friends, and the magic bag decreed that I would drink some wine. Some of us then popped to the local chippy to get some grease into our respective bloodstreams. It was the first time that I’ve had McDonalds and Fish & Chips on the same day – a childhood dream come true. We arrived at the next pub on our list and found it shut. They’d probably been warned that we were heading in their direction. No matter, though, as there was another place very close by. Becca Cullen was giving me some very useful advice about student housing in London and I was continually nodding my head in acknowledgement. But I think I was nodding my head a little too vigorously as Ben Clive and Nick Brown were both laughing and imitating my nodding!
At pub no. 5 the bar lady looked at my driving license rather suspiciously and asked me to verify my date of birth. I hope I hadn’t done anything untoward. Fittingly, it was here we discovered that, although a Fresher, I am actually older than a couple of established UL ringers. I’m still amazed by this revelation– they certainly seem older than me!
At pub no. 6 the booze was starting to take effect and I, as usual, made a few remarks which would have been better left unsaid (nothing offensive, just plain embarrassing). Again we had to stand outside but it was all very pleasant, and possibly my favourite pub of the evening. We chatted, laughed, drank and really were as happy as could be.
We crossed the road to Canal 125, the final pub of the evening. My outro was a nice, relaxing glass of Gin & Tonic. There was a great big table which we all sat round and there is a good photo on Facebook of the merry scene. I was quite surprised that we only went to seven pubs, but many of the participants were all too aware of the juxtaposition with the College Youths Dinner the following day. Myself, Tom Wood and David Phillips made our way back to the station. Walking next to the canal was rather nostalgic and reminded me of childhood walks next to Diglis canal in Worcester.
A friend from my college found it funny that I would be going on a pub crawl with a load of bellringers (unfortunately the joke was very much on him a few weeks later, but we won’t go into that now). The truth of course, as every one of you knows, is that ringers are the biggest drinkers. And in my opinion they are also the best. There is a certain style to the way a ringer interprets alcohol which is instantly recognisable, elegant to watch and completely uncopiable. And nowhere are there better ringer-drinkers than in London, where there has been a symbiotic link between beerhouse and belfry for literally hundreds of years. I’m not even joking when I say what a privilege it is to take part in this tradition which has been laid down by our forebears and which we strive to continue to this day. So, thank you very much Ben for organising such a fantastic evening.
I even made it to the peal the next morning.
By Richard Pullin