Category Archives: Finsbury Park

Bottle Pen

The stationer breathed a sigh of relief today when I went in and brought four colour cartridges for my printer.

"Ha – you thought I was just going to ask for one envelope," I said. He smiled weakly, then quickly and with total stationeresque skill shifted his eyes to a display of pens on the counter. They're recycled. "Made from bottles" said the stationer. I'd just been in the library on Blackstock Road, reading an article in New Scientist about how the distant future for the earth is the extinction of all life, so buying a recycled pen, while a futile gesture, seemed like the right thing to do. Then the stationer's son (Stationer Jnr) came up to me.

"How are you?" he said.

"Poorer after coming into this shop," I said. The stationer looked hurt.

"I don't mean poorer spiritually. Just financially."

The stationer smiled.

Quink (black)

"Do you sell Quink?" I said to my local stationer.
"Do we sell Quink? Of course we sell Quink. That's a strange question."
"Well, it's the digital age. I wasn't sure that people still used Quink."
He snorts with derision and sells me the Quink, while also slipping in some crafty cross-selling and getting me to buy two expensive black ink cartridges for my inkjet printer.
I used to do loads of stuff in Quink, until I bought myself a Wacom art pad in 1997. There was a girl I worked with when I first came to London who drew wild landscapes in Quink. I fancied her, of course, but she had an on-off relationship with a Scottish rugby player so I didn't get involved. He didn't play for Scotland or anything, he was just Scottish and played rugby. We lost touch around 1989 but I kept her memory alive by starting to draw my own pictures in Quink. My pictures weren't wild, mostly just sketches of fat people at Walthamstow market or caricatures of my flatmates.
The stationer also cross-sold me some nice writing paper. I'm going to stop emailing my friends and write them proper letters instead. Masterpieces of the genre such as:
"Howdy. Fancy a pint Thursday? T."

The acne red faced bloke dogshit incident

The bloke was in his early 20s and had a stripey t-shirt and a spotty red face. He swaggered out of the King's Head with his dog then watched, transfixed, as the dog did a big runny shit all over the pavement. He was about to swagger off in the direction of Finsbury Park when I announced that if everyone acted like him the whole world would be covered in dogshit. He looked at me in disbelief. How will I clear it up? he whined. I pointed to the paper bag he was holding, which contained a brand new tube of what I presume was acne cream. The dog looked up at his master as if to say "want me to bite his gonads, master?" but the bloke in the stripey t-shirt still seemed confused, as if he had never realised that leaving dogshit in the middle of the pavement was wrong. I left him standing over the pile of crap, wondering what to do, though my daughter informed me that as soon as my back was turned he had swaggered over to the bus stop as if nothing had happened.

The Origins of Danebottom

My six year old son often asks me, when we walk up Canning Road, to tell him about the Viking battle of Blackstock Road.

"How do you know about that?" I said the other day.
"You told me."
OK. I did read something about that a few years ago and must have mentioned it to him once. So I took to researching – on the internet, you understand – where the story comes from. 

The archived paper 'Perambulations in Islington' by Thomas Edlyne Tomlins (1858) can be found here:

http://www.archive.org/stream/yseldonperambula00toml/yseldonperambula00toml_djvu.txt


In this he mentions Danebottom several times, such as:
"in writings so far back as the reign of Henry II. demon- 
strates that this name of Danebottom has peculiar reference to
some of those encounters our Saxon ancestors had with the
Danes."
"some battle fought there in earlier times,perhaps so far back as the period of tlie Danish incursions, the memory of which, as I have ventured to suggest, have been tra- 
ditionally preserved in Danebottom, at Highbury Vale."
There is no older source for this story but what Tomlins is saying, essentially, is that the Saxons held the bridge over the Hackney Brook, presumably near the Arsenal Tavern, and the Danes came down from the heights of Finsbury Park and tried to 'take' the Arsenal Tavern, er, I mean bridge. There was an almighty rumpus but luckily it took place on the site of the present police station and most of the miscreants were carted off, though not charged because no witnesses came forward.

Parkland Walk

A slow walk with my daughter to Park Walk on the western edge of Finsbury Park. It’s on the route of an old railway line which the Victorians built to link Stroud Green to the Winchester Hall Tavern on Archway Road. Commuters would leave the Finsbury Park area in the eary morning then get massively drunk at The Winchester and roll off home in the evening.
“Did you have a good day at the office, dear?”
“God it was tough. Took ages to get served.”