Once upon a time, I was up in Camden Town at the Dublin Castle to meet some friends who had come down from the North for a spell in the smoke. We had a couple of beers together, before they had to shoot off to meet another party: I think, to go boozing up Highgate/Hampstead. I didn’t fancy it, so I went off down Parkway, towards the tube; as it was early, probably intending to head for home (Bromley-by Bow) and finish off in the Priory Tavern.
At the time, on Parkway, just below the Dublin Castle, was a no-frills English restaurant – I think also called ‘Parkway’. We used it a lot. They used to do a great all – week – round Sunday roast, and we’d often end up there for some nosebag if we’d been ‘getting the taste’ in Camden.
As I walked past the restaurant, I instinctively looked in the main window – I think I was a bit peckish and was half hoping that there might be someone in there I knew, who I could go join neck some scran. Well, whaddaya know, sitting at the window table: it’s only my best mate Aky and his girlfriend. I wave and grin like an idiot. Something approaching a smile briefly flutters across her lips, then her face hardens as she realises the possible implications of my sudden appearance (ie no more cosy meal for two) Aky, meanwhile is oblivious to this as he’s taking a big slug out of a pint glass and doesn’t see me. I do the honourable thing and walk on. However, he must have spotted something, or his girlfriend given something away, because he’s soon calling me from the restaurant door. I walk back up to and into the restaurant, ask for a third seat and join them; stressing that I do not wish to disrupt their evening together. While Aky says “Noooo, the more the merrier. Listen, we’ve just this minute ordered, what are you having?” his girlfriend’s eyes are suggesting that whatever it is, I enjoy it, because if she’s got any say in the matter, it will be the last meal I have.
“The usual, I reckon” That was roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roasties, two veg and gravy. “Yeah. Me too” says Aky.
So we order some beers and presently the food arrives. It is politely and efficiently served and we get stuck in. Aky, a real ‘trencherman’ is first to finish, wrapping up the proceedings by draining the dregs of his pint, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and giving me his familiar beery grin. I’m not far behind him, but I’m more in the skinny git with hollow legs mould.
“Ahhhhh …” I said, contentedly: “Y’know what … I could eat that all again”
“Why don’t we?” says Aky, mischievous glint in his eye. His girlfriend is horrified.
We call over the waitress.
“Can we have it all again. Just the same, one each, all over again.”
She didn’t seem to understand: “What? Was there something wrong with it?”
In the meantime, the head waitress had appeared. She seemed braced for trouble:
“Is there a problem?”
“No, not at all, we enjoyed it so much, we just want the same again, if that’s OK”
… and so off we went again! Everything was polished off, and I do believe we even – much to Aky’s girlfriend’s annoyance – had a pudding too!
A great night. If I tried it now, of course, I’d be crippled for days!
Andy Daly 2010