Season 2006-2007CLARK'S; 46 Exmouth Market, Finsbury
(5 pts)
(4 pts)
(3 pts)
(2 pts)
(1 pts)
NICK EVANS1231012626
BEN HAYES1121.50219.520
ALAN SMITH1111021414

Can you feel it? There's a nip in the air, crushed conkers underfoot and the pavements are awash with satchel-swinging school-goers. That means it's autumn and, this year, the start of the 13th Season of the Pie-n-Mash Club.

Pie pangs were reported as early as August 22nd; well, the seasons are out of whack as you all know. It was a lovely autumn day as seven healthy appetites converged from all points of the compass upon our old chomping ground Clark's of Exmouth Market (see cobbles, far left).

Myself, Bob, Rich and Graham were lucky enough to be ensconced promptly; for the latecomers there was an extended wait for a fresh batch of pies to be disgorged from below decks. It might be worth rigging up a mini-millennium wheel on the pavement outside to keep the queueing punters happy — a 'Pie in the London Eye', if you will.

(Near right) There's Bob, fresh off the banana boat from Tobago (via Chingford). Rik Lukas and Graham Darlow were lunching off from Upper St Martins Lane and Holborn respectively.

(Far right) The second wave getting 'tabled in: the back of Big Al's head - he came in from Islington; a snuffling Ben Hayes — he arrived from the Borough; and Matt Lowing who jouneyed over from trendy Fitzrovia. No pie shops there, but I wonder if the Newman Arms still serves pies upstairs?

You see that look; that's the look of satisfaction that comes from settling a healthy appetite with a plateful of warming stodge.

And there's the lovely Pat, who made it all possible by putting pies onto plates. There's total job satisfaction for you — and we are truly thankful, amen.

Don't let this put you off your pie. Gurning over the booths is an extremely rare occurrence in most establishments.

Ideally there should be a bit more glaze showing, but that counts as a clean plate. Note the minimal use of cutlery, but I should point out that there are no extra points for not using a knife.

As you can see from my picture on the far right, Exmouth Market was in the grip of one of those trendy 'degustations-marchés' which have been popping up this year on our favourite street patches. I've noted the French muscling in at Lower Marsh and Queen's Crescent this summer. There's been some grumbling from the stalwarts I've talked to, but if it brings the punters back onto the streets to do their shopping then I say 'Bravo, mon ami, et encore'. Moro's had a stall outside their über-fashionable restaurant, but a Pie-Man was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he went to the fair.

A recent related news item which I couldn't ignore saw 'BoJo' put Pies firmly at the centre of the Conservative Party Agenda. No wonder it created a blaze of publicity. He seemed to be implying that we are already in the grip of Pie Prohibition, and that a future generation of schoolkids will be scoring illegal pastry from Pie Pushers at the school gates. Well I say to you Jamie Oliver, give the kids what they want — a healthy plate of Pie and Mash — and at same time salvage your Cockney credibility.

How about this from Emma Ward of Peckham, who contacted the club recently with the following outrageous suggestion. I quote:

'Could I just briefly mention a few minor, but key changes; if these were chip eating excursions I'd never have missed one. Mushy pea fritter?!?


Emma x'

Choice. These are strange times we're living in and no mistake.