“’I need a proper drink.’
‘There’s a decent pub not far from here,’ said Robin. ‘I looked it up. The Trafalgar Tavern.’
“Looking up the pub was doubtless yet another Nice Thing that Robin had chosen to do for his birthday…’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
After their eventful interview with Irene Hickson and Janice Beattie on Strike’s birthday, Strike and Robin head to The Trafalgar Tavern for a drink.
“Strike spotted the pub Robin had chosen from a distance. Large and opulent looking, with many balconies and awnings, not to mention window-baskets and coats of arms, it stood on the bank of the Thames.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
“Robin parked and they proceeded past black iron bollards to the paved area where many wooden tables afforded a view over the river, in the midst of which a life-size black statue of the diminutive Lord Nelson faced the water.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
Even though it was a cold day, Robin suggested they sit outside so Strike could smoke.
Strike has a bit of a scare while heading inside to get the drinks when a chorus of “Happy Birthday” breaks out around him. Momentarily thinking Robin had arranged a surprise party, he’s relieved to see an elderly woman celebrating her 80th birthday with her friends and family.
He returns outside to find a glum-looking Robin who confesses to losing faith in their chances at solving the Margot Bambourough disappearance. Telling her to “cheer up,” Strike and she discuss what they learned from their interview with Irene and Janice.
“He sat down beside her, rather than opposite, so both of them faced the river. There was a small shingle beach below them, and waves lapped the cold pebbles. On the opposite bank rose the steel colored office blocks of Canary Wharf; to their left, the Shard. The river was the color of lead on this cold November day.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
In addition to discussing the case, Strike and Robin have a couple of laughs here. First, to explain why Strike keeps smirking at the word “Bennies,” he relays a story of his Uncle Ted’s to Robin about The Falklands War and a character from an old show Crosswords, named Benny.
“’It was a daytime soap opera and it had a character in it called Benny. He was — well, these days you’d call him special needs. Simple. He wore a wooly hat. Iconic character, in his way.’”
“…and he let out a great roar of laughter. Robin laughed, too, but mostly at Strike’s amusement. When his guffaws had subsided, both watched the river for a few seconds, drinking and, in Strike’s case, smoking…” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
Here’s Benny from Crossroads:
Another funny moment happens when they begin discussing astrology thanks to Bill Talbot’s old notebook. Robin asks Strike what his sign is, which leads to this great exchange:
“Strike grinned reluctantly, took a large drag on his cigarette, exhaled, then said, ‘Sagittarius, Scorpio rising, with the sun in the first house.’
‘You’re-‘ Robin began to laugh. ‘Did you just pull that out of your backside, or is it real?’
‘Of course, it’s not fucking real,’ said Strike. ‘None of its real, is it? But yeah. That’s what my natal horoscope says. Stop bloody laughing.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
As Strike and Robin leave, Strike’s thoughts return to the woman celebrating her 80th birthday.
“Just for a moment, as he pulled himself back inside the Land Rover, Strike wondered where he’d be if he lived to eighty, and who’d be there with him.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
If you’re interested in seeing the route they likely took from Irene’s house to The Trafalgar Tavern, here’s a shot of the map below.
The Trafalgar Tavern has social media accounts on both Facebook and Instagram, if you’d like to check them out. You can also find the tavern’s website here or locate the tavern itself on the map below.