“It’s still a real pub. It’s only people who never come here who think it’s full of tourists. And Dickens came here, and Johnson and Yeats.… I love it.” — Nina Lascelles
Strike meets Nina Lascelles at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for a drink before they head to Roper Chard’s Christmas party.
It’s fitting that editor Nina would choose such a spot. Literary legends Yeats, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock!) are all said to have visited the establishment, and Charles Dickens was a regular. There’s been a pub at this location since 1538.
But back to our story…
“Strike approached the round yellow lamp across the road that marked the entrance to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and headed up the narrow passageway that led to the entrance, stooping to avoid hitting his head on the low lintel.”
“A cramped wood-panelled entrance lined with ancient oil paintings…”
“… opened on to a tiny front room. Strike ducked again, avoiding the faded wooden sign ‘Gentlemen only in the bar,’ and was greeted at once with an enthusiastic wave from a pale, petite girl whose dominant feature was a pair of large brown eyes. Huddled in a black coat beside the log fire, she was cradling an empty glass in two small white hands.”
We reckon Nina was sitting about where the young lady in white is. Here’s a good look at the log fire….
And here’s a good look at that offensive sign over the door….
“Strike fetched himself a pint of Sam Smith.”
“There was a stuffed grey parrot in a glass case on the wall opposite. It was the only bit of genuine whimsy [Strike] could see and he was prepared, in his mood of tolerance for this authentic bit of old London, to do it courtesy of assuming that it had once squawked and chattered within these walls and had not been bought as a mangy accessory.”
Apparently, an African grey parrot named Polly lived at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for about 40 years. When she died in 1926, about 200 newspapers around the world carried her obit. Popular parrot!
“The stairs down to the bathroom in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese were vertiginous and the ceiling so low that [Strike] smacked his head even while stooping.”
“Need a pee before we go,” Strike had told Nina. Here’s where he would’ve done it….
Want to get a pint of Samuel Smith, have a pee and/or see if Polly wants a cracker? Visit Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese by following the map here.