Season 2010-2011COCKNEY'S; 314 Portobello Road, Ladbroke Grove
(4 pts)
(4 pts)
(3 pts)
(2 pts)
(1 pts)
NICK EVANS2131012040
TOM LEADER1222022424
JOHN LEACH1021011212
STUART FROST1021011212

It was a perfectly grey afternoon as I navigated the upper reaches of that Amazon of London streets, Portobello Road, in search of legendary vittles close to the source. Inspiration was to be had from the artwork of aptly-named 'Diet' with his bold proclamation, 'Finally, some proper scoff!' [see above'].

The streetscape was dominated by the looming grey hulk of the Trellick.

My old mucker Graham McLaurin was at the threshold of number 314, and mere moments later we were seated and enjoying the cosy comforts of Cockney's Pie and Mash Shop, last visited by the Club in April 2007.

West London boys John Leach and Douglas Benford of Brentford were already installed in their feeding pods; luckily John's guest Stuart Frost was on hand to dispense the necessary items of cutlery. Brentford was the talk of the table, and invariably the mighty 'Brentford Nylons' were broached. But did you know that from 1616 to 1617 Pocahontas, the Native American 'Princess', was denizen of said township? Sadly 'Pocahontas: the Brentford Years' didn't make it to Disney's final cut.

Since Doug's last meeting with the Club, the eel has of course been devalued to 4 points. [Shareholders note: the value of your eel may go down as well as up.] But is it enough? The real debate now is whether we should be eating them at all. In the Guardian of 27th October was a timely article by Jon Henley. [You can find it by clicking here.] It will give you fresh appreciation for this wonder of nature and more reasons than ever for becoming a vegetarian.

Doug was very much in the green, with a side order of peas as an added, but regrettably non-scoring, flourish. When quizzed on his enjoyment of the nosh, Doug commented somewhat sardonically 'it was great to part of the process'.

Tom Leader joined us for a solid 24-pointer while his data was backing up. I cannot over-stress the importance of a good back up, but please let's have no back ups at the dinner table.

Here is the mother-and-son team that made our delicious and nutritious meal possible. Ruth Phillips has upheld this bastion of cuisine for some 14 years in its present locale, and now has the talented Billy to help earn a crust, and hopefully not burn a crust. The excellent fare caused me to exclaim optimistically 'the future's safe for the next 50 years then!' which gave the lad some pause for thought.

The spotless white tiled dining room started to fill up, as did the lady on the left here. Tragically her devoted daughter could only watch wistfully, having just undergone a dental procedure.

Another dental procedure was in progress on my table. Had a bardic moment seized me I could have said 'All is not flossed, Stuart Frost'.

Underneath John Leach's modest fleece I spied a flash of liquor-green and at my insistence he removed it to reveal this spectacular fair isle sweater. A real gloom-buster, it's the perfect article for pie and mash occasions.

A pie, earlier. All the choice establishments closely guard their recipe secrets and there's usually a dynastic story attached. This pie has its origins in the Cooke's Pie Shop that once existed down where the Westway crosses over the Portobello. Through marriage the recipe went to Cockney's original site on the Golborne Road until 1992, before reaching its present day location.

Mary Madsen, my longtime correspondent of Boston, Mass, enjoined me to 'indulge yourself with an extra pie on my behalf, ha'. This is it. Mary, an ex-pat Londoner who grew up on p-n-m, has fond memories of a reunion trip to Cockneys several years ago, and asked me to pose with Ruth Phillips, so here goes.

There's nothing like a bottle of chilli vinegar to wash it down.

Stuart's blue bag contained a bargain consignment of prawns from Golborne Fisheries. I rather hope it was used to launch a 'prawn cocktail offensive' in the greater Brentford area that evening.

After saying our goodbyes, Tom and myself decided upon a gentle walk up to Kensal Rise. It seemed preferable to a journey by tube.