Sunday, 24 May 2020

A Life in Pubs 4) The Marlborough Head

The problem with these pub experiences is that they all happened so long ago that the pubs are either gone, or they've changed so much there are no pictures of them online as they were. Somewhere I might still have some photos of nights at the Marlborough Head, but if so they're buried away somewhere.

The Marlborough Head is an old pub on the corner of North Row and North Audley Street, just off Oxford Street in central London. It was perfectly placed, almost opposite my halls of residence during my brief time at university. The pub and my home formed a handy triangle with a cashpoint and there was rarely any need to go further on a night out, unless there was an event on or we really fancied a kebab.

Apart from the perfect location, the great thing about the Marlborough was that it was part of the Eerie Pub Co, a ridiculous chain of gothic horror theme pubs. (There was another one in Nottingham called The Pit and the Pendulum, but it wasn't as good.) They might have picked the Marlborough since it was supposedly haunted by the ghosts of executed criminals, but any spirits there doubtless moved on out of embarrassment. It was filled with silly old tat like rows of test tubes filled with food colouring, fake skulls covered in fake cobwebs and that sort of nonsense. The best bit was the toilets, which were hidden behind a false bookcase with only a sign on the floor to give them away. Watching drunk people trying to find them was hilarious.

The chain did a range of cocktails called the Seven Deadly Sins, and if you drank all seven you got to pick either a free pitcher of one of them or a T-shirt. You were supposed to do them all in one night, of course, but the bar staff didn't really care, so what you had was essentially a Nero's stamp card for booze. Given that we went there almost every night, most Saturdays we could pick the last one and then get our favourite as a pitcher. Each. Plus maybe another one to kick off the collection again. If you did go for them all in one night, it was important to take the heavily cream-based Gluttony first, because drinking it on top of the others tended to result in sudden regurgitation.

I spent a lot of time in this pub with my first proper girlfriend, Amy, and often hooligans from back home. Having a pub that close to home was not conducive to studies, though.

According to the interwebs the chain went under some time ago, and the Marlborough was refurbished in 2008, so no more Deadly Sins or trick lavatories. 

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