I’m not very good at writing about pubs – my excuse is that I tend to care a hundred times more about the company than the place. Nonetheless, this was a regular haunt of mine for many years before I even moved to London. For no particular reason that I know about, it became the standard gathering place for my old friends, and still is. As it happens, when I moved here I ended up working five minutes’ walk away, so it’s still my most regular pub.

It’s a Sam Smiths, so it gets points for cheapness, and I always find their bitter okay. The food’s pretty decent too, if you can find a place to sit to eat it. It does tend to get full at times, but often less so than a lot of Central London pubs. It gets a lot of postal workers just after work hours.

Its level of comfort varies a lot. There’s more space upstairs than down, and some very comfy seating there, in something like a very old-fashioned gentleman’s club style – but that is not infrequently booked for private parties. When that’s unavailable, downstairs can get crowded, and there isn’t much comfy seating there, but there are plenty of stools and high tables and ledges, and it rarely gets hideously packed for long. It used to show football on a projection screen downstairs, but that seems to have ended.

I’ve had some good times there, which is the main reason I like it. With old friends and newer ones, and my first date after my marriage ended was there (it went very well, thanks for asking). It’s also the pub I have most often unexpectedly bumped into someone else I know. These social aspects are what make it a favourite of mine.

It’s also the place that a large and very goth woman started talking to me: she was there for a meeting of her vampire club that evening. She also wrote poetry, she told me (“Yes, it is mostly about vampires”), and she considered herself to be the modern answer to Byron and Shelley. Despite being obviously too talented to be compared to just one of those predecessors, I neglected to ask her to recite any. My friends thought she was a friend of mine when they showed up…