The Moon in a Vivarium*

Image by Happyralph on Flickr

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.

*apologies to Orwell.

12 Responses

  1. I love surprises like that. Even if the rest was ugly, I’d hang out for the vivariums.

  2. Lovely post. However on our last visit, the landlord was so incredibly rude, the resident pub quiz team so idiotically behaved and the posters so staggeringly sexist that I didn’t even notice the vivariums. A shame, as I’m sure they contain they most socially able regulars the Oakdave [the pub’s nickname] has.

    • Hi Liz, thanks for reading. While we were there it was just the lizards, probably for the best then. There was the distinct feeling that we were in someone’s private space rather than a public house. Glad I missed the sexist posters! Geez–It’s as if they are trying to turn away custom. Later we ended up drinking lovely Tribute at the White Hart, thanks to Pete’s recommendation in his blog, which was a much better time!

      • Next time you try the White Hart give us a shout – we’ll pop over!

        Shame about the Oakdave – it could be so good, and it really isn’t – not to slag off the majority of CAMRA members, but this is what happens when a little clique of the rump who conform to all the old stereotypes gain control of a pub and shape it in their image: it’s an ugly, outdated, misogynistic place that has great beer – though even there, the range is stunningly unimaginative.

        • Ok, Pete will do– really loved the crowd at the White Hart– brill cross section of Londoners. Everyone was there!

          We were excited about trying the Oakdale…I thought it might be like my old local, the Magpie and Crown, which is a crusty old boozer but had magnificent beer and good music on and the landlord was good-natured. Alas, it was nothing like that. To be honest the beer wasn’t even that great when we were there.

  3. We had a very odd session in the Oakdale a couple of years back. We sort of enjoyed it but not enough to go back…..

    • Hi Bailey– I kept thinking, I would go back here if…but the list was so long. I was morbidly fascinated to tell you the truth. I think the deal breaker was that we were the only people in there– it was just depressing. Did they have the lizards when you were there?

  4. I obviously don’t know this pub as I live on Merseyside, but I too have been in pubs that don’t seem to want any customers. As for sexist posters, you don’t have to be anti-sexist to realise that alienating 50% of your potential clientele really doesn’t make good business sense. Like sexist pump clips.

    • Hi RedNev– yeah, you don’t have to be a feminist, or have any consciousness or even empathy for others…but it helps! I missed the sexist posters…thank Maud! I got the distinct impression this place was just generally misanthropic, actually. Equal opportunity in that regard.

  5. Didn’t spot any lizards. We were also more-or-less alone and enjoyed the barman playing Guitar Hero on the big screen between rounds.

  6. i liked this pub to be honest. i heard about the reptiles so i paid the pub a visit and i was also allowed to hold one of them.
    rob the landloard was pleasant and the staff were fun and talkative.
    they cannot serve food as the previous landlord closed the kitchen and the pub is closing in july at no fault of their own. the landowners have had permission to turn it into flats for years and the time has come.
    the landloard was quite happy to explain it to me as it came up in a chat we was having at the time.
    the pub dont get that busy anymore and i think that is mainly due to it being very tucked away.
    i am goin back for sure
    see you soon guys

  7. Now sadly gone to pub heaven…….

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