Stoke Newington Church Street, N16
This used to be my favourite pub in North London but I haven't been in for a while. I must be getting old because the ruralesque walk around Clissold Park at night doesn't seem as appealing as it once did.
I was there with old friends from the Real Psychic Genius Football Prediction Society. The Shillelagh is really our spiritual home but we now tend to wander a bit down the road to the Rose & Crown, where the music isn't loud and there's lots of space for assorted fortysomethings to shuffle around slowly. Leeds v Spurs was on the telly. I picked a famously unlucky seat – where I had watched England lose to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup and from where countless times I'd seen Ireland throw away the lead in the last minute in qualifiers. It didn't disappoint. Leeds lost. But the Guinness was as good as ever and there's still a good mix of old and young drinking away. One big change is last orders which is now an orthodox 11-ish rather than four in the morning. But I suppose that's progress. As my wife said when I rolled in, last orders was invented for people like me who need authority figures such as barmaids to tell them what to do.
This afternoon I spotted a can of Kestrel Super K on the route of the lost Hackney Brook. I’ve noticed over the last few months that Super K has been making inroads into the Clissold Park scene (formerly a Tennants Super hotspot). I would have done some compass readings from where the can lay, but I was in character – I was King of the Dragon Pirates and we were escaping to Narnia via the track on the north side of Clissold Park, being chased by Giant Pirates. Giant Pirates are bad and Dragon Pirates are, generally, thought to be good – at least in the world of 6 and 3 year olds.)
You had to be there.
The little Hawthorne bush that nestles into an eastern corner of Old St Mary’s Church is covered in bright red berries. Beneath it is a sign of local druid activity – a can of Kestrel Superbrew.
Amazing news. I’ve recently learned about an underground river that flows from Highbury down into the Hackney Brook Valley. Usually I spot these streams when I see cans of extra strong lager scattered about on the surface, but in this case there was a whole off-licence.
I was buying a few bottles of beer at Highbury Vintners and commented on the strange slope of the floor in the shop, which seemed to counter the slope of Highbury Hill.
“That’s because there’s a river that flows under the shop,” said the owner. “It goes through here and underneath the church.”
I expressed an interest in starting to go to mass, then fiddled about with the real ales before announcing to the whole shop: “I’ve written a book about underground rivers.”
The shopkeeper was not phased. “Bloody Highbury. Everytime I bring up some topic of conversation, one of our customers will go ‘I’ve written a book about that’.”