Seeking to combine two of my areas of expertise I have a couple of times conducted a competition on The Robert Elms Show in search of the best pub garden.
The Faltering Full Back in Stroud Green came first once and then second the next time, but then only because The White House on Green Lanes had introduced guinea fowl and an enormous pie-bald rabbit into their shisha garden, which had a certain novelty value.
(Interestingly, The White House is the only pub I’ve ever entered which had been drunk dry just before I got there – everyone had left except one barmaid and she advised me of this fact in a kind of slightly stunned and surprised way. “Even the Creme de Menthe”. It was the night Wenger won the double for the first time in ’98; Blackstock Road was a sheet of broken glass over which charged groups of mounted police officers.)
I have talked about the raised decking and galleries at the back of the Faltering Full Back quite a lot on the radio and there’s no doubt it is a fantastic bit of timber construction. Its other outstanding quality being its imaginative use of what was a fairly limited space. The planting combines architectural forms such as bamboo and Cordylines with a good old-fashioned garish bedding display.
All to the good, except that I have been drinking there a little recently. I say drinking there, but this is not entirely accurate; I suppose ‘waiting for a long time as if you are some sort of reincarnation of HG Wells’ Invisible man’ would be more accurate. In a random manner, if you hang around at the bar long enough, you may be offered the opportunity to purchase a drink.
However, this has allowed me to experience one of the rewards of age, (and god knows there are few enough of them). Although my patience has been stretched to breaking point, I have had the perspicacity, or sufficient self-consciousness if you like, to realise that a dirty-fingered, unshaven old git in a battered paper hat lurching towards the preening, cooing, self-regarding individuals that decorate the bar area, growling “Don’t you know who I am?” is going to be a somewhat unedifying spectacle.