Magazine article The Spectator

Restaurants

Magazine article The Spectator

Restaurants

Article excerpt

RESTAURANTS

Off to the Gun, the Docklands gastropub. It's a brisk walk from Surrey Quays station. Well, I say brisk but of course it is impossible to get anywhere briskly these days, what with the swarms of swarming immigrants swarming all over the streets and everything. They are everywhere. Everywhere! Indeed, just this morning I shook three out of my hair and if I've caught them, then you can almost guarantee the rest of the family have them too. So it'll be off to Boots for that special stinky shampoo and then all that combing, combing, combing. Such a faff. I blame our son. Attending an inner-city multicultural school as he does, he's always bringing them home. I also, by the way, found an entire family of asylum-seekers living in the kettle and 27 Kurds who'd set up camp behind the curtains. It is terrifying. Indeed, according to those think-tanks that project such things to put the fear of God into the congenitally thick, if Britain's population continues to grow at its present rate the country will explode by tea-time tomorrow and then turn into a giant runny cheese which the French will come over and eat. You may scoff. You may say this is xenophobic scaremongering at its most pernicious. But, believe me, you won't be feeling quite so clever when this business makes camembert of us all.

Anyway, to the Gun with two friends who would be nameless if, say, their parents had failed to call them anything at birth, perhaps having other things on their mind, but they didn't, so they are Caroline and Mark. They are nice, decent people, the sort whose families go back generations in this country, which is what counts, after all. The Gun is down a little side street of surprisingly pretty old cottages and sited on the river with a view across to the Millennium Dome. I never understood what everybody had against the Dome. It was a lovely day out, or it would have been if only the Dome hadn't been so laughably crap, appearing to have been put together by an utterly deranged geography teacher. I think that if Michael Howard is serious about annual quotas, he might wish to concentrate on white elephants. They're not only a complete waste of taxpayers' money, but even give the impression that we as a nation don't know how to do things properly, and that, of course, is complete and utter nonsense.

The Gun is certainly a most fitting place in the circumstances. There has been a pub on the site for over 250 years and it's said that Lady Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson used to rendezvous there, and we all love Lord Nelson, a man who had one eye and one leg and had to hop in a blur but still tried to give the French what for. They don't make them like that anymore. The building is gorgeous, Grade II-listed, and inside the restoration has been wonderfully sympathetic. Hurrah, a gastropub without birch veneer and aluminium and silly twigs in pots. (Now, those places really deserve an annual quota.) Instead, it's pale walls, two roaring fireplaces and, next to our table in the dining-room, a huge arch stuffed with logs. It makes us want to play Jenga, pulling out the bottom one, but of course we are too grown up for that. Also, I don't want to exert myself because any movement might cause more immigrants to fall out of my hair and that would be embarrassing. Bloody itchy, though.

We are brought the menus, and some lovely breads. There's a 'Daily Specials' board on the wall with nothing chalked on it. 'No specials?' I ask the waitress. 'No,' she replies, with no further explanation. Okey-dokey. The menu is very un-ladies-who-lunch, it being almost wholly meaty, with mains of steak or sausages or lamb rump or ham hocks, the only alternatives being fish pie or a cheese and onion tart. …

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