A View From The Tower

Farewell, Mucky Pup

March 14th, 2016 by Raven Garcia

My world was rocked this past weekend with the sad news that the Mucky Pup in Islington, by far one of the best pubs in London and my second home for the past 10 years, will be closing down in two weeks’ time.


Naturally anybody who knows me will know that I am particularly fond of the Mucky Pup and have been since I first walked through the doors there all those years ago. If you’ve ever been for a drink with me, chances are it was at the Mucky. So to say that I haven’t taken this particularly well would be a bit of an understatement.

Apparently there will be “a great bunch of guys taking over”. Now this might sound like bitterness on my part, but that sounds to me like codeword for “a bunch of wankers”. If that offends you, tough shit. I’m in the second stage of grief now, I’ve gone through the shock and denial phase and now I’m in the angry, sweary phase. It’s my site anyway so if you don’t like it then go fuck yourself – can’t you see I’m grieving, you insensitive cocksucker?

*Deep breath*. That’s the swearing out of the way (for now). To call these people wankers when I’ve never even met them might be unfair, but I can only judge them on what I know and that is that they are changing the format of the place and dropping the Mucky Pup name. What a “great” bunch of guys they sound like. I shudder to think what they’ll do to the place. I guess that it’ll probably be turned into another pub with stupidly overpriced beer, frequented by privileged trust-fund wankers with ridiculous facial hair and a sense of entitlement, so that they have somewhere to stand around eating olives and sourdough bread. Because London is crying out for those kind of places at the moment.

This is the bit where I stop talking specifically about the Mucky Pup, and branch out to focus on the wider issue. There is a plague sweeping our drinking establishments at the moment – a plague of gentrification. Not just in London – it’s now spread to every major city in the UK. The face of the Great British Pub hasn’t just changed, it’s been assaulted and battered beyond recognition. It’s been mutilated like something from one of those cosmetic-surgery-gone-wrong shows. It is indeed a horror movie far more gruesome than anything that ever graced the screen at one of Josh’s Cigarette Burns nights.

You know the sort of things I’m talking about. The same little annoying quirks that every newly opened or refurbished place is doing and thinking that they’re being so fucking original. It’s selling beers with titles awash with buzzwords like ‘craft’ and ‘artisanal’ (each of which is worth an £2.00 on top of the standard price of a pint in any given area). It’s organic fairtrade cordials and tonic waters made from triple-filtered runoff water from some glacier in fucking Nepal. It’s serving ‘deconstructed’ pub classics on rooftop slate tiles, and putting the salt and pepper into shot glasses. It’s poncy fucking gourmet crisps for 2 quid a packet and wasabi-covered peanuts. But most of all it’s the general wankiness that goes with it all and I’m sick of it. I’m sick to death of scenes like this and this and this and this and fucking this.

I must state for the record, that I have nothing against gastropubs as a concept. But why does every pub have to be a gastropub? It’s killing the traditional quintessentially English binge-drinking experience.

With rent prices in London shooting up faster than a junkie at an all-you-can-eat heroin buffet, the sad reality is that pubs are either becoming generic upmarket twatshacks or flats for said twats that frequent said shacks. One of the major casualties is that of London’s alternative scene, which is down to its last small handful of venues keeping its life support running. The Ben Crouch Tavern, gone. Mean Fiddler, gone. SIN, gone. Astoria, gone. The Old Intrepid Fox, gone. The New Intrepid Fox, gone. The George & Dragon, gone. And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I’m not even including the ones that have closed and then re-opened as bastardised shadows of their former selves (notable mention: The Hope & Anchor on Upper Street)

So, while I start preparing for the final piss-up at the Mucky Pup whilst simultaneously looking around for another half-decent pub with a whole new set of bar staff to annoy, and wallowing steadily onwards into the next stage of grief (the appetisingly-named Cycle Of Depression), I shall bid you farewell for now. In my next post I’ll try to focus on something more positive, like maybe sharing some memories of the Mucky or something like that. Maybe that will help me move on and accept what I can’t change, not that that means I have to like it. Jesus Christ forgave the bastards, but I can’t. I hate. I hate what this nation’s becoming and I hate the people responsible for it. I hate gentrification, I hate mulled cider and I hate Thai sweet chilli flavour peanuts. We’d like our Great British boozer back, please.

The Best PPV Ever!!

February 9th, 2016 by Raven Garcia

I was sitting in The Pipeline the other week with my best friend and fellow blogger Dean Saliba and my cousin George. The three of us are all wrestling fans so naturally the conversation soon turned to the squared circle, and halfway through our first pint we were already on “Who’s your favourite wrestler of all time?” (If you’ve been reading my site for a while then you probably already know my Top 10).

As any wrestling fan will know, this is a difficult question to answer. Over the years we have seen many different styles of pro wrestling all across the planet and the sport has evolved itself generally, so to pick just one person to sum this up is pretty much impossible. So I decided to put a different spin on it. Imagine you could watch a pay-per-view featuring any superstars, living or dead, from any era of their careers? Who would you pick? Maybe you’d like to see Lex Luger take on Kurt Angle, or pit Hulkamania-era Hogan against his nWo Hollywood counterpart? Or perhaps you’d rather watch a triple threat between Curry Man, The Blue Meanie and Doink The Clown (If that last one appeals to you, you’re very weird). Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Still Here…

November 22nd, 2015 by Raven Garcia

I’m still here, you bastards. 🙂

Music: Old VS New

October 28th, 2014 by Raven Garcia

I was recently involved in a debate on a Facebook group which a few of my friends are members of, and took fire for making a statement along the lines of “If it was recorded after 1990, chances are it sucks”.

Obviously I’m not implying that ALL music recorded after 1990 sucks, although this was how it was interpreted by most of the people on the group. I am simply of the view that although most things do improve over time, music (in general) is not one of them.

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9 Things I Hate About Food

September 10th, 2014 by Raven Garcia

Some of you may have seen my 10 Crimes Against Food article. I’d been toying with the idea of writing a sequel to that, but couldn’t find enough that truly were crimes against food. Most of them were petty annoyances at best. But then I noticed how many trends, and “buzzwords” there are flying about at the moment that piss me off. So I decided to put them all together into a list of culinary annoyances, buzzwords, clichés, and things that people in the food industry should just stop doing.

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September 8th, 2014 by Raven Garcia

Chinatown’s Newcomer Turns Up The Heat

Barshu Restaurant
28 Frith Street, London W1D 5LF
Barshu Front

Regional Chinese cuisine is really taking off. Scores of Brits are finally waking up to the fact that China is actually pretty big, and made up of lots of different parts rather than being just a homogenised MSG-laden lump – a luminous, sticky sweet and sour stain on the world’s culinary map, as imagined by those of us with the more undeucated palates. Those of us whose palates passed their GCSE’s and went on to further education will know that there is so much more to Chinese food than can be found on the menu of your local takeaway.
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February 13th, 2014 by Raven Garcia

I’ll skip over the fact that I’ve not written anything on here since July last year. That’ll all be covered in a later post. Maybe. Instead I’ll be telling you about my recent visit to Liverpool, because a) that’s more interesting and b) it’s certainly fresher in my mind. Since me and my girlfriend Alison founded Red Army Fiction last May I’ve been meaning to get away somewhere to see if it would help my writing, and it has. I don’t know if it was just being away from London or whether it was something about Liverpool in particular that did it, but over the last few days I’ve not been able to put my pen down.

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Sobranie Russian Restaurant & Bar

July 17th, 2013 by Raven Garcia

A Meal Fit For A Tzar

Sobranie Russian Restaurant and Bar
8 Fountain Square, London SW1W 9SH

As some of you are aware, I now host a spoken word night called Red Army Fiction. My co-organiser, a wonderful lady called Alison, said she’d take me out for dinner to celebrate the success of our first event back in May. So last Thursday, we took advantage of a Groupon voucher Alison had acquired for a Russian restaurant in Victoria, which I thought was quite fitting, given the name of our event.

Russian food is full of so many familiar flavours and yet to some can still seem so alien. In my Shaka Zulu review I called African food ‘the last culinary frontier’. Perhaps Russian cuisine also has a claim to that title, because so far my search for a truly authentic Russian dining experience in London has eluded me. So I got the tube over to Victoria with Alison hoping that would change.

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Red Army Fiction

May 31st, 2013 by Raven Garcia

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been very busy recently and haven’t had the chance to write much as of late. Well, I have written a couple of things but not for the website. I’ve been co-organising a spoken word night which happened last week at the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green. (I’ve also been busy with other stuff, and I cracked my rib about a month ago and that’s only just healed, so that didn’t help). So forgive me if this article seems a little rushed – it’s because it is.

So yeah, the spoken word thing. Well, myself and a lovely lady called Alison have been talking about doing something like this for some time now. We did it to raise money for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation which is a cause we both care very deeply about, and if you’ve never heard of it then I’m sure you’ll see why when you visit the website. Read the rest of this entry »

Boots Are Made For Walking

May 8th, 2013 by Raven Garcia

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit some distant relatives out in the countryside. They have a piano in their lounge which is incredibly cool. We were sitting around playing the piano for about half an hour when I got up to get a drink. As I made my way to the kitchen I tripped over a huge pair of boots which were standing in the hallway. From the look of them I guessed that they were women’s boots, as they were made of black leather and looked to come up to the knee. But in fact she informed me that they were boys riding boots. I now have a huge bump on my forehead where I knocked it against the bannisters. That’s the first time I’ve ever been injured by equestrian equipment. Stupid boots. Boots are made for walking, not riding, and certainly not causing injuries in corridors.

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