Angie: 'Ello me old mucker, what can I get you? Ismet: Can of Red Bull, please. Angie: Sorry luv, we don't sell anything with a recognisable brand name. Ismet: OK, a tall blue and silver metal tube of generic energy drink containing taurine, glucuronolactone and caffeine, please. Angie: We ain't got that. We got lager. Ismet: I'm Muslim, I don't do alcohol. Angie: We got pork scratchings. Ismet: You're having a laugh, ain't ya? Angie: We got roast beef crisps. Ismet: Are they halal? Angie: How the heck would I know, I'm completely Brahms and Liszt. Ismet: I'll just go and sit in the corner with a glass of water and wait for the next slanging match to break out, then.
There really is a Queen Victoria pub opposite Bromley-by-Bow station. It stands completely isolated from any other building, cut off on the wrong side of the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road. From the outside it's a traditional looking East End pub - with brightly painted frontage, chalkboard adverts for live music and a compact landlord's flat upstairs. A faded sign stuck behind a barred window announces that the pub is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Unfortunately it's also closed for the rest of the week, and has been since May 2003. This is a ghost pub, and the former regulars are probably now to be found across the dual carriageway at the downmarket Duke of Wellington (beneath the England bunting in "Frankys Bar" doing "Kareoke").
In common with much of the rest of the capital, if not the country, more than half of the pubs round here have been closed down during the last 20 years. RIP to the following Bromley-by-Bow locals: Bird In Hand (demolished), Bombay Grab (once the local Smith Garrett Brewery, now the Bow Muslim Cultural Centre - there's irony), Bromley Arms (converted to flats last year), Caledonian Arms (still being converted to flats), Imperial Crown (nearly finished being turned into flats), Moulders Arms (recently closed and boarded up), Pearly King (a pub existed on this site for more than 650 years - until the 1990s), Priory Tavern (converted to flats in 1997), Queen Victoria (see above), Rising Sun (demolished 1997), Ye Olde Three Tuns (would have been my local, turned into flats 1999).