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Guest article – 6 August 1995


By Gabriel Hopkins

Don’t worry, times aren’t getting tough. I say that in advance because this week I have been travelling far afield to North London, home of dodgy drunks, drugs and even more which doesn’t bear thinking about.

One thing to remember when you’re spending time in the deep North is dress down, so I scrapped the suit and put on some suitably worn atire for the journey (generally East to West) along Holloway Road, starting at an old favourite, the dubiously-entitled Fat Harry’s. Harry it appeared wasn’t around, but there were lots of men with their various terriers and pitbulls sitting around the bar and playing pool. Fat Harry’s is a friendly pub, and reasonably inexpensive too, I remember a hysterical New Year’s Eve there, but I shouldn’t digress.

Further up towards Finsbury Park, but generally heading west is the George Robey, one of these intensely cool places where the young bands play. Luckily, a reasonable escape can be found away from the sound of bawling guitars and funny-looking chaps playing synthesizers. There are two rooms. One with the loud music and late-drinking, the other a rather dark and dingy pub. Memorable was the de rigeur pint of Guinness and pack of cheesey crisps combination. Best not too stay in the Robey too long, as the locals often appear to be getting peaky.

Next, after a quick hike down Seven Sisters Road, where there seem to be enough Kebab and Fish and Chip shops to feed a developing nation, the Hog and Hound. The landlord of the Hog and Hound obviously believes that his pub is deeply cool, and the people who were posing there thought the same. How wrong they were. When you pay for your water and beer combination, you get the eery feeling that you’re subsidisng all those ‘period’ bits of nonsense nailed unselectively to the walls. During term time, this is the only student pub in the North end I know of. As Rick Mayall said, “Nobody likes students, not even students like students.”

Opposite is the Nag’s Head, which is worth a quick glimpse. Rather too legendary, the Nag’s Head is always full to the brim and so after a quick but good pint, it’s off to my favourite pub on Holloway Road, the Hercules.

Many people who I have taken to the Hercules have found the experience rather unsurprising. For a relaxed drink in an unrelaxed area, I find the Barras & Co. pub a great relief. You can always find a comfortable seat and although the view is less than scenic out the windows, inside the architecture and the surrounding are also pleasant. Nice beer too.

The Irish pubs along Holloway Road, that is to say the ones that appear to sell nothing but Guinness and Murphy’s are to be avoided, unless your family have been drinking there for sometime and you once lived in Ireland. The punters in these places and there are thousands, including the Mulberry and the Half Moon, have a peculiar addiction to all things connected to line dancing and other Irish Institutions.

After being so negative about Holloway and Archway’s less English drinking establishment’s it’s only fair to also recommend one of the Irish Pubs. I would like to be more exact, but by the point we got there, memory was not strictly on my side. I can tell you that it is adjacent to Archway tube, but there the recollection ends. For argument’s sake I shall refer to the mysterious pub as the Eire. A less than accurate concordance with drinking regulations is the first thing to strike you about the Eire as you enter at 12.30 and find it still full of young lads drinking and buying beer. The sheer illegality of the place is rather striking throughout one’s stay there. A pleasant pub, especially for Alcoholics.

“Arthur” is on holiday
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