Anonymous said: Thanks for the kind words about the quiz - I was one of the hosts last night. Good luck with hosting the thing, it's a bit of a stress, but worth it for the free beer and food the pub supply for the quiz-masters :) One of the hardest things to do is judge the difficulty of the questions - because of that there is normally a lot of leniency with the answers, more points for everybody is more fun, although I accept that marmite perhaps should have been a half point, but no quiz is bulletproof!

Thanks! We really enjoyed it. I’ve hosted a quiz before, but it was years ago. I went through a similar process - one of the old hands to us to one side and told us “at the end of the day people are here to have a good time, and to have a good time they like to know the answers. Make 8 out of each 10 questions relatively easy - the last one or two should be separating the wheat from the chaff”.

Anyway, thanks for the tip and thanks again for the quiz. We enjoyed it thoroughly.


Rose & Crown Pub Quiz

I woke up this morning cursing the past me. I have only a dim idea of what he’s like but he keeps leaving stupid obligations for me to deal with, like having to go to work.

He also left me with a slight hangover, but I’ll forgive him because it was acquired for a good reason: participation in the Rose & Crown (they’re on twitter!) pub quiz. It was my first time - to the quiz, not to the pub - and it was the best quiz I’d been to in ages. The questions were well-judged (with a clever local one thrown in*), there were a decent number of rounds (“It’s value for money I look for in a quiz”, said a comrade), and they threw in an excellent picture round. The team next to us had been coming for five years - another good sign.

There was a bit of controversy over a couple of questions, or rather answers - they accepted marmite as an acceptable synonym vegemite, thus enraging several marmitians - and accepted physics as ‘close enough’ to Brian May’s doctorage, enraging those who got the correct answer, like us. It’s astrophysics. But pub quizzes aren’t pub quizzes without answer-based quibbles, and the quizmaster’s decision should always be final. Even if he or she is wrong. I like to think of it as augmented reality.

It was also good because we won, unexpectedly. We thought we’d blown it in the picture round, but we discovered the picture round was for a separate prize. There was also a special extra 5-question quiz which we missed out on because we weren’t sure what was going on. A quiz within a quiz, like an onion, or Narnia. I’m probably making it all sound very complicated, but it wasn’t. It was great. You should go.

Oh, and in a fit of tipsy confidence we volunteered to host a future quiz at the pub. We’re excited. And afeared. Stupid past me, getting me into trouble again.

* How many Grade 1 listed buildings are there in Stoke Newington?

The Rose & Crown, yesterday


Hackney One Carnival - in pictures

Yesterday saw the Hackney One Carnival, rescheduled after its belated cancellation in the immediate aftermath of the summer riots (and it was exceedingly belated - they closed the roads off assuming it would go ahead, only for it to be called off at the last minute).

They paraded up Stoke Newington High Street, took a left, then partied up to the end of Church Street. After that, I’ve no idea. Maybe they fell off the rim of the earth. Either way, I hope they reappear next year, it lit up the end of what’s been a difficult Hackney summer.


Things on my commute #1: Obama, Barbauld Road

As is seemingly de rigueur in Stoke Newington, I cycle to work. One of my new housemates showed me a good route to King’s Cross, winding down Stoke Newington’s well-to-do backstreets and on through the leafy environs of Canonbury and Barnsbury. Gastro pubs loom in the morning light, and one can’t help reflecting on their all-too-recent transformations from smoky neighbourhood boozers to pristine purveyors of posh nosh. Unavoidable of course - the trio of shut down pubs on Copenhagen Street, towards the end of my commute, are a reminder of what dire straits the pub industry is in. Personally I blame the supermarkets and, more generally, capitalism.

Moving away from thoughts of pubs and the communities they serve, the Duzce supermarket and off-license on Barbauld Road never fails to raise a smile. This is because of its colourful murals, hokily charming like the approximations of disney characters that decorate ice cream vans, or the unconvincing spooks you see on the side of ghost trains at funfairs. My favourite is this one of Barack and Michelle Obama: he portrayed as a loveable scamp / half-wit, unable to comprehend his presidential victory, she as a Circe-esque sorceress / Lady Macbeth style evil manipulator and power behind the throne. I hope that’s what they were going for, anyway.


Itto - Stoke Newington High Street

I’ve been watching an anime called Tatami Galaxy, which is one of the best, most satisfying series I’ve seen in a long while. It features a beatiful mix of animation techniques, well-rounded characters, bursts of surrealism, yearning, and some nifty sci-fi elements. And a theme tune that sounds a bit like Oasis’ Round Are Way.

It also features a mythical ramen noodle stand, which serves - it is rumoured - cat ramen. It’s the place the characters go to when all hope is gone, or when they need to reflect, or recover. It serves existential crisis food.

The closest Stoke Newington has to this place is Itto. In an area fairly lacking in down-at-heel-but-satisfying noodle establishments, we gave Itto a try early Sunday lunchtime, desperately hungry, spaced out and requiring sustenance to reassure us of the reality of existence. The starter was nothing special, but the noodle soups were just right: cheap and bountiful, with decent quantities of tasty meat. Mine was roast chicken & spring duck… but no cat, as far as I could tell.

I give Itto 30 stars.


Sad Lime Cordial

At Stoke Newington High Street’s Sainsbury’s Local we spotted a bottle of lime cordial on the verge of a nervous breakdown.


Gorki House, Stoke Newington High Street

Gorki House is the cafe of my wet revolutionary dreams: Turkish tea at 50p a pop; a library of leftist political history and chess strategy; and free philosophy lessons every Tuesday night between 8 and 10. On this rainy Saturday afternoon it is full of chess-playing turkish locals sipping their tea with their pinkie fingers out and proud. One even sports a beret. On the walls, portraits of socialist heroes are interspersed with pictures of Charlie Chaplin and Papa Smurf.

An American comes in, greets his chess playing friends, and pays tribute to the powers of mildly illegal drugs. “I haven’t smoked pot in a while now. I like pot.” The American reveals himself to be Canadian by listing the provinces of his homeland. Canadians are never more than fifteen minutes away from revealing intimate geographical details.

The soup smells lovely.

I give this cafe 40 stars.