The Grave Maurice (on Whitechapel Road) is not what it was. Popping in there for a swift post-curry pint yesterday was a sorry experience. The barman was terrific and the people were friendly so it wasn’t actively nasty, but the place is falling to pieces and doesn’t look long for this world. Morissey’s repeated advertisements for the place don’t seem to have done much good. I hope it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Lord Rodney’s Head, now the silvery Funky Monkey.

It needs an urgent facelift to undo the damage which may have been caused by the bodged one a couple of years back. The Maurice has never been swanky but it always had a toughish pride and was together and smart. I used to love the wood panelling in there, which looked paper thin but well-kept. Now the place looks scruffy at best. I once saw Mad Frankie Fraser drinking in there in a suit.

A genial old fellow was there with his two parrots, one of which had recently undergone major surgery and was as a result partly plucked (“oven-ready” the barman said). This was scarier than it may sound, because the scrawny featherless skin and bone bird reminded me of a spooky skeleton ghost monkey. This would not have been a problem if the bird hadn’t been so friendly, scuttling along the bar towards us. “She won’t bite you” said her owner (who had perhaps one or two more teeth than his part-feathered friend), “I’ve had her sixteen years. Just hold your arm out and she’ll climb up it”. He wasn’t very impressed when we shuddered and ran away into the insalubrious back corner.