Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Brendan Behan's bar

WELL, I was all ready to slate this bar at about 9pm last night, mainly because we took the T to Green Street and ended up in a dark, dingy, quiet suburb with no idea where to go. There were a few shady characters around and Wren and I were pretty apprehensive. Eventually I asked a Boston police officer outside their Jamaica Plain headquarters how to get to Centre Street and he pointed us in completely the opposite direction.
After walking for an age we eventually came across this small Irish bar in the middle of the suburbs. Entering it seemed it was students' quiz night and there wasn't a seat to be had, nor a dart board as far as we could see.
But ordering a pint of pilsner lager for myself and a bottle of Coors for Wren we got speaking to the barman. After a while he said: "Oh you're the couple who were speaking to my cousin the other day in the Beacon Street Tavern." From that moment we were home and dry.
His name was John and he spoke with an Irish accent. A few weeks ago he had travelled to Co Wicklow in Ireland to get married to a Canada girl. She is still based in Toronto while he works the bar in Boston. And we thought we had problems living 45 miles away.
Later we met Alex, who works for Olympus Cameras (what a coincidence with Scooby, also called Alex, being a photographer) and his girlfriend Nicky. They were great and when I asked them to recommend the best T line station to use to get back to Brookline Nicky offered us a lift home in her car!
It was the best bar we had found in Boston, a real pub, and John was the friendliest barman. The music was pretty good, too, they seem to love the Clash out here. In fact we got speaking to a minor celeb while there. Wren got into a conversation with a bloke called Sweeney who grabbed his 15 minutes of reality TV fame a few years ago. He was the punk who was turned into a conductor in for weeks and had to lead the Royal Symphony orchestra in Faking It! He claimed to be a Scot but spoke with such a strong Yorkshire accent it was difficult to hide the fact that he had lived in Leeds most of his life. He also had a minor claim to fame - he came out with the line: "I met Joe Strummer". Well done, Sweeney, but of course I could top it.
He had only spoken to Joe during his post-Clash lifetime with the Mascaleros whereas of course I not only spoke to him but bought him a drink during the Clash heyday. Did I ever tell you that story before?
Towards the end of the night Wren noticed the different fruity flavoured vodkas on the shelf and turned into the female equivalent of the Prince of Darkness. John provided her with a chilled Blueberry Vodka which she devoured with great gusto, then let us try the Vanilla version, too. Excellent. To say we slept well last night would be an understatement.

Yesterday we took a fast cruiser out to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod. We had to leave at 8am and it was touch and go whether we caught the boat, having become confused by the Silver Line. We thought we were looking for a tube train platform but the line is actually a bus that runs underground between stations.
Thankfully we made it with minutes to spare and were surrounded by a group of American pensioners out on an annual day trip. They were hilarious, having a whale of a time like a group of kids on a school trip. When we hit bumps or waves they were cheering like they were on one of the big dipper rides at Alton Towers and one adventurous chap kept playing tunes on a kazoo. Mind you, it got a bit wearing at that time of the morning so I tuned out with my headphones on and dozed for the rest of the trip.
I wanted to go to P-town because it was where the chef Anthony Bourdain first began to learn his trade. It's a quaint little place full of art galleries, bars and beaches and has a large gay population, who all seem to own dogs. There is only so much browsing you can do, however, and we ended up stopping off for lunch at Pepe's Wharf overlooking the beautiful Cape Cod bay.
Originally I was going to have a hot dog but my eye got attracted to the Italian Meat Trio pizza. When I ordered it the waitress looked at me knowingly and said: "You're going to get a mighty big pizza". She wasn't wrong, it was about the size of a large Dominoes and full of Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs with extra cheese. I was beaten just looking at it but, with this being the country of the doggie bag, they found me a box and I took the leftovers home.
Wren, meanwhile, had a magnificent Quasillada with Shrimp, which was the Mexican equivalent of a pizza with giant shrimp the size of small lobsters, and loads of them. The one thing you get over here is value for money.
On the way back a storm brew up and we hit rough seas. The crew on the catamaran started throwing out black bin bags for those who might be ailing and I was expecting the elderly ones to start flagging. Not a bit of it. They were whooping and holloring with glee as we crashed into big waves. I think of some of the old miseries back in blighty and wonder if they would have had the same reaction. I doubt it.

Two days to go now and tonight is the Red Sox v Tampa, the third game in the series which is level at 1-1 after Papelbon blew the save last night. Tonight Josh Beckett pitches, and I can't wait to see him do his stuff. I also have my eyes on a 12 inch gourmet hot dog tonight.

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