Mr Foggs in Regent Street, London – My Favourite Pubs
Mr Foggs, Regent Street
When I first went to live in London I used to go down the West End regularly.
My favourite pub there was Mr Foggs in Regent Street.
Indeed, this is arguably my favourite pub anywhere, anytime.
The theme was Phineas Fogg from the book Around the World in Eighty Days.
There were all sorts of things on the walls related to that theme.
Underneath the Cafe Royale
It was a basement bar and it was part of, and underneath, the Cafe Royal, a top class London hotel which is still there now.
It had a separate entrance from Regents Street though, down some stairs.
There were two bars, one where you first came in and one round the back.
They also did good quality food there as you would expect from the Cafe Royal.
It was very much a singles bar. You would meet girls (or boys if you were female) from all over the world there.
I suppose you could call it an International Singles Bar.
I used to go with three different lots of people.
I used to go with my friends at the weekend, Noel from Dublin, a scaffolder, and Scobie (Kevin Leach) who was from Greenock like myself but who moved to Dublin with his family when he was 9 and then to London by himself when he was just 16. I renewed his acquaintance when he visited Greenock in hs late teens.
Guys from Work
I sometimes went with guys who I worked with that I shared a flat with in Finchley, north London – Alan Irving from Dumfries in Scotland and Andy Phillips from Bournemouth on the south coast of England.
I also often went on Tuesday nights too. I was part of a bowling team at work and the Bowling alley was in Shaftesbury Avenue in Piccadilly. That’s no longer there now as I ascertained on my last visit to London last year.
The only ones I remember from the bowling team was a girl called Glynis Morris from Shropshire and another girl called Pam Steele. I seem to have forgotten all the boys.
I remember that my friend Noel, was great with the ladies. He later married a French Heiress whose father had a title and lots of land. He had brown eyes and long blonde hair.
He said that he didn’t go out looking for girls, although he often ended up with one. He used to say that the best technique was to go out and have fun – and the girls would gravitate to the guys who seem to be having the most fun.
He said that too many guys went out looking for girls and it was too obvious. they girls could see through it.
His other tip? Never buy them a drink on the night you first meet them. It wasn’t that he was tight. He just said that it made you seem too keen and gave them the upper hand.
Speaking to Some French Girls
I remember I used to have to translate for some French girls that we knew. Noel and Scobie spoke with broad Dublin accents and they couldn’t understand them.
Did I translate what they said into French for the girls?
No. I just said it in English and they understood then.
I did something similar for an Iranian girl I went out with.
Her English was good but she didn’t understand some of the phrases that they used.
I was able to explain ‘on your bike’ to her and ‘he’s as thick as two short planks’ but struggled with explaining ‘he could talk the hind legs off a donkey’.
I had to give up on that one.
Shootout at Mr Foggs
I remember, also, speaking to some Irish girls when one of them took exception to what another group of Irish girls said and the one I was talking to threw an ash tray at one of them.
I was then astonished when a free for all took place between both sets of girls.
It was like a scene from a saloon in the Wild West – but with girls.
I jumped in to pull the girl I was talking to out of the fight – with great difficulty as she was keen to continue it.
However, the bouncer had seen it all and threw them all out.
Just after this happened, I heard someone Call “Gerry”. I looked around and saw a Swedish Girl that I had gone out with briefly (indeed she wanted me to marry her so she could stay in the country. I turned that down). She was there with her friend.
I looked down at my hand and saw it was covered with blood. I don’t know how it happened. I hadn’t felt a thing.
So, I said hello to her showed her my hand and said that I would have to go and clean it up.
I showed it to her and said I would have to go and clean it up.
It took a good while to clean it up. It took a while to stop the bleeding.
Back to the Girls
When it did I went back out to see the girls.
Unfortunately, they were now talking to a couple of guys who had moved in during my absence.
There are many fine tales that I could tell you about that fine place but it would probably not be best to put it down on paper.
End of an Era
One evening Noel and I went down the West End and headed towards Mr Foggs after a couple of pints in the Cockney Pride.
The door was closed.
On a Saturday night?
We assumed that it was closed for refurbishment.
Despite checking it out every few weeks, Mr Foggs never reopened.
Reason for Closure
I heard later a reason for it but I don’t know if it is true.
It was during the IRA bombing campaign in Ireland.
Sir Charles Forte, who owned the Cafe Royale, lived in the top flor of the building.
It seemed that it was considered too big a risk having a basement premises where the entrance was on the street and anyone could come in.
Indeed, I do remember that there was a bomb scare one night when I was there and they cleared the premises.
Perhaps that was the trigger for it.
Anyway, its doors never re-opened.
Finding Mr Foggs on the Internet
I see, from searching the internet, that there is a Mr Foggs in Mayfair now. Some of the wall furnishings seem the same. However, it is a fancy tea room rather than a pub.
When I was in London last year I popped into the Cafe Royale to see if it had, by any chance, opened again. After all, the bombing campaign is long over.
However, the staff hadn’t even heard of it. They looked a little bemused when I told them about it.
I’m not sure that they believed me.
I did a google search for Mr Foggs and found no mention of it.
There is no record of perhaps the best pub that I was ever in. Even its memory has disappeared.
So, this is my valediction of it.
If anyone, anywhere in the world, finds this article on Google when searching for Mr Foggs, please leave your memories of it in the Comments section underneath.
The pub may have gone – but the memories haven’t.