The Oakdale Arms is a forlorn little place, far from any bus stop. Drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, and neither does anyone else.
Its clientele seemingly consist of people who work or live there: the most regular of regulars.
The whole architecture and fittings are uncompromisingly mid-80s. Everything, including the day bed covered with a zebra throw, has the solid ugliness of the late 20th century.
The great surprise of the Oakdale Arms are the vivariums. One holds a “25 year old” bottom-feeder. Another contains exotic amphibians half submerged in black water, shimmying frantically against the glass. The landlord, almost eight feet tall in his New Rocks platforms, wears a bearded dragon around the premises. There is no television.
It’s quiet enough to talk. All that one hears is the buzzing of fluorescent lighting in the glass tanks about the place. Amid the peace of a menagerie stunned with existential boredom, the chirping of uneaten bugs.
You cannot get dinner at the Oakdale Arms, though the barmaid is eating crisps so they must have them. There’s no stout for your pewter pot or china mug. Instead, there’s Santa Slayer with a dominating copper tang, and middling Milton Dionysus, not really fitting of the name.
But now is the time to reveal something which the discerning and disillusioned reader will probably have guessed already. There really is such a place as the Oakdale Arms. It’s just down the road, past the Harringay Superstores.