Tangled yarns from London's passers-through

013 : John in The Three Kings, Clerkenwell
Born in 1960 in London. John currently works as a journalist Why London? Because most other places are crap. He digs the following London bits: the pay is better than in other places. He is, however, a bit miffed by the lousy weather and the transport system. For more info on John you should send an email.

image: theholyllama

“Then the unthinkable had happened. We met and became ‘friends’.”

Twenty years. Well, twenty-two actually. Twenty-two long bloody long bloody long years, and here I was in the pub once more. In Clerkenwell. Waiting for the woman I’d chased with a single-mindedness that still surprised and embarrassed me when I thought about it. And, of course, I’d got nowhere. Doesn’t do to look that keen. But for all three of my college years she’d been the shaping vision. That’s what I called her, after some lit-crit book I was reading at the time.

Tall, double-barreled[1] and with an attitude – what was not to like? Although I had a series of semi-significant others to help pass the time when I was supposed to be studying, she only had to walk past and all of them became absent.

Then the unthinkable had happened. We met and became ‘friends’. Just about the last thing I had in mind really, but I went along with it in the hope that she might come round. Somewhat predictably, she didn’t. Later, surprisingly I’d had the briefest of things with her wannabe model sister who’d disappeared off to Italy after we’d spent a pretty useful weekend in an Eastbourne wedding cake hotel.

And now here I was in the Three Kings trying to look EC1 boho and hoping that she hadn’t changed, even if I had. And I had. Used to be relatively trendy, that’s what people said, and as the years clicked away I’d morphed into what I hoped might be regarded as stylish. Would the same have happened to her? Ostentatiously reading the Guardian[2] – that’s where she was working now. Amazingly she’d rung up out of the blue (still don’t know how she got my work number) and asked if I knew who was speaking.

I should have. The deep-toned big sister voice wrapped itself around me and of course it was familiar, but not enough, apparently. In spite of this failing, an assignation was made and I was left to reflect on how things would be between us.

And then, in she walked, asking if I needed a drink. Like it was yesterday. The hair was more or less the same, and mercifully, figure and face seemed little altered. We even seemed to have a certain amount in common.

Two more drinks and twenty-two recovered years later, we made an appointment to meet again. Clerkenwell was working its shabby magic upon us both. Kisses were exchanged. She left. Looking around, I thought the Three Kings had been a good choice, all in all.

Actually, I mislaid her number and she didn’t ring. Well, what did I expect? Haven’t been back to the Three Kings either. Probably for the best. As one door shuts, another closes.

referenced works

  1. Although nowadays more commonly the result of a desperation not to lose such delightful surnames as Titmuss and Higginbottom through the institution of marriage, double-barrelled family names were once the pride of Britain’s well-to-do. Given the twenty-two year time scale and the (presumably) unmarried status of the lady in question, it is likely that she is from the well-bred double-barrelled camp, but this does not rule out the possibility that she might be blessed with such a delightful family title as Cholmondley-Marjoribanks (pronounced ‘Chummley-Marchbanks), or even, if she were from the most hallowed of stock, Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache.

  2. The offices of Britain’s favourite clever person’s newspaper lie just around the corner from the Three Kings at 60 Farringdon Road. Readers of the Guardian have long enjoyed a stereotype as left-wing do-gooders, an image so ingrained that doctors use the acronym GROLIES (Guardian Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt) on medical charts to describe a certain type of patient. For an exhaustive list of the delightful shorthand used by those charged with our care to describe us in all our frailty, see here.

location information

  • Name: The Three Kings
  • Address: 7 Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0DY
  • Time of story: Evening
  • Latitude: 51.52316374045663
  • Longitude: -0.1059579849243164
  • Map: Google Maps



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