A latino porn star

It had started at Manor House Station, so named, not after a baronial manor house, its bucolic grounds gently sweeping down to the nearby River Lea, but some long forgotten public house . . . . . . . . . .

Exclusively for Patrons, here is List 1: Run 1 the next ‘run’ from my travelogue Pootling around London: Manor House to Gibson Square, again I hope you find it both amusing and informative.

Thank You again for your support.

Manor House Station, N4 to Gibson Square, N1

Hotblack Desiato, that sounded more like a latino porn star, than an estate agent, I thought as I turned into Theberton Street at the end of my first run.

That run, of course, is the classic, and only run Londoners know – Manor House to Gibson Square. Even kids playing in Gibson Square shout it out if they see a Knowledge boy.

It had started at Manor House Station, so named, not after a baronial manor house, its bucolic grounds gently sweeping down to the nearby River Lea, but some long forgotten public house. This boozer had a chequered history, first opening its doors in 1820 then closed only to be resurrected before demolition. Over the years its name transmogrified into the Manor House fortuitously in time for the 1931 opening of the tube station that takes its name, much to the relief of residents setting them apart from downmarket Finsbury Park.

Travelling through Highbury and by-passing the famous football stadium, I was certainly not going to be asked for the location of Arsenal’s home ground on my next Appearance.

A mile’s journey down Upper Street to our destination, not for nothing is this road nicknamed ‘Supper Street’, the only businesses to be found on this high street apart from eateries are the aforementioned estate agents.

The pedant would ask: “If there is an Upper Street, where is its companion, Lower Street?” Well, there is, rejoicing in the name of Essex Road. It once was called Lower Street, and satisfyingly it is lower than its companion. Unfortunately, if you travel along Essex Road expecting to reach the heartland of The Only Way is Essex, I have to disappoint you, your first encounter of Essex Man is at the grandly named Theydon Bois.

A short ride down Theberton Street I pass a restaurant imaginatively named Le Sacre-Coeur, years later a group in my cab would proudly confide upon leaving the cab, this French restaurant was their choice for celebrating one of their number being released from prison.

Turning right into Gibson Square I’ve reached the first destination in the Blue Book.

The photographer Angus McBean lived at numbers 34 and 35, he would be responsible for the Beatles first album cover, Please, Please Me in 1963.

The most obvious abnormality is in the middle of this late Georgian square. A classical temple plonked in the middle of the gardens used by the square’s influential residents. The local populace had protested at plans for a ventilation shaft for the newly constructed Victoria Line; the air of Islington, apparently, was too good for the likes of travellers from Tottenham or Brixton. As a compromise Prince Charles’s favourite architect, Quinlan Terry was commissioned to build a temple to obscure the offending pipe.

Another resident of the adjacent Milner Square would later contact me. He was a producer and had seen dozens of Knowledge boys passing his house. This had given him the idea of transferring Jack Rosenthal’s play The Knowledge, from television to stage, and had persuaded Maureen Lipman (Jack’s wife) to direct the play at the Charing Cross Theatre.

Incidentally, when Douglas Adams was looking for characters in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy he saw a Hotblack Desiato sign while driving, he liked the name so much he nearly crashed his car, eventually, he telephoned to ask permission to use the firm’s name for a character. Apparently, later the firm’s staff received phone calls telling them they had a nerve naming their company after Adams’s character.

The Application

I distinctly remember the day, it was while sitting in the bath, that I decided to make an application to start The Knowledge. It would be a journey that would take 4 years, 10 months and 13 days, travelling over 20,000 miles on a journey around London.

The Knowledge is an undertaking that thousands have started, but only 30 per cent finish.

And for those who want to memorise this iconic run:

It’s Leave on left: Green Lanes
Right: Highbury New Park
Left: Highbury Grove
Right: St. Paul’s Road
Comply: Highbury Corner
Leave by: Upper Street
Right: Therberton Street
Gibson Square on right

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