February 2015

Alan Compton Prince of Wales Highgate (c) David Farrant Thumbnail

‘A breed now virtually extinct’ ?

Prince of Wales icon and landlord Alan Compton circa 1970 – the heyday of Highgate publife © David Farrant
Prince of Wales icon and landlord Alan Compton circa 1970 – the heyday of Highgate publife © David Farrant

Well, I have just realised that I haven’t posted on here since before Christmas! New Year has come and gone, the dreaded time of fireworks and drunks staggering up Muswell Hill Road singing Auld Lang Syne in the dead of night. But at midnight, whilst avoiding the chiming of Big Ben (which is easy enough without a TV), we did have a nice surprise. At the other end of the line was none other than my old friend Kenny, wishing us a happy 2015. Kenny hates New Year’s Eve as much as I do, more than anything in fact – well, almost. This year it wasn’t too bad in his part of the world, he said. But what he was most animated about was the new laptop he had been given for Christmas. Well, not the laptop itself, but the windows it had opened for him regarding certain statements being made about himself and others online. By the time he telephoned he was in what can only be described as a ‘medieval’ mood, and was talking about stretching people on racks and much worse. “The F”, in a foul temper, truly is an experience in itself. Fortunately for me I have never got on the wrong side of him, quite the opposite. And I pity the poor fool who finds himself in that circumstance. But some people will insist on bringing these things on themselves …

It’s not the festive season so much which utterly enrages him, but aggressive people swaying drunkenly in the street fuelled by cans of lager. You see he is living in a quiet village in the country now, away from the busy streets of London; but even ‘country bumpkins’ can cause disturbances in quiet areas at this time of the year. However, despite all the festive rumpus, in his late night phone call Kenny still fondly remembered his days in Highgate. In fact, Kenny and I have been friends for half a century now, and our combined memories and knowledge of local people past and present could certainly lead to us being described as ‘a breed now virtually extinct’. However, like certain others of our Highgate generation, we have had the sense to commit much of what we remember from those times to paper for the record, considering our memories of those heady days to be of interest for future generations. We have salvaged what we can regarding illustrations – it wasn’t all thrown out on skips you know! Indeed this been quite a project of ours over the last year, and has involved quite a lot of travel – well, mostly to the outskirts of Greater London which was no real hardship, but sometimes further afield as we traced old friends who have moved away. We are presently working together, with others, to typeset our combined memories, and plan to publish them when possible – which we feel will be very soon. So look forward to that folks, on every level!

It will be Highgate as some people have never realised it, with all its local inhabitants – or those just visiting wanting to be witnessed mixing with its supposed elite – displaying their ‘true colours’ – under the relative ‘camouflage’ of its local pubs!

But Kenny was only too aware of this, and enjoyed joining in – sometimes just listening – to the gossip of its local populace. And, boy!, has he got some tales to tell!

So we plan to go ahead with the project of publishing the true life-styles of Highgate’s night life into an enjoyable book. It will not be too long forthcoming. But I’ll keep you all updated here.

But for just the moment,

David (Farrant)