BY BILL LACY
I once had a spell of drinking in a pub called The Plume of Feathers, quite near to where I grew up.
It was an okay pub but it was mainly noteworthy for bumping into people I hadn’t seen since school.
A while later, in a different town, I had another run of refreshing myself in another Plume of Feathers.
So the name always piqued my interest, but I just assumed it is a very common pub name, but actually it isn’t even in the top 100.
So the thing that initially interested me the most when I visited The Plume of Feathers in Greenwich was the name.
I added it to my mental catalogue (and later – quite sadly – a real catalogue).
But it’s memorable for more than simply the name. For years I didn’t even know it was there.
Like many people, I just used to take the lazy option of drinking in the town centre, but a few minutes’ walk along the river takes you to some stunning pubs.
A walk around the back of Greenwich Park takes you to this wonderful hostelry that apparently dates from the 17th century.
It has an interesting history, originally called the Prince of Wales before changing to The Plume of Feathers (the heraldic badge of The Prince of Wales) in 1726, before passing through various owners down the years; the current independent landlords have been in charge since 1999.
This is a proper pub – carpets, comfortable seats, wooden beamed bars and excellent beer.
I sat down in a corner seat, amid the maritime memorabilia (the pub is a stone’s throw from the National Maritime Museum), sipping a superb pint of Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter.
It is a kind of pub that has that peculiar homely feel and mentally shuts away the outside world, only briefing interrupted by the introduction of some wide-eyed tourists and a gaggle of 20-somethings grumbling about Brexit.
There is a restaurant and a garden towards the back, but I didn’t make it away from my corner.
My brother got a couple more pints of Harvey’s in.
Meanwhile, the group at the table next to us had expanded and migrated into one of our seats.
I am not precious about this kind of thing, especially where the atmosphere is so relaxed and cosy one could easily feel they were in their living room, but the anxiety about our proximity came from the annexer of our chairs.
From the vantage point of a world of distancing, I look rather fondly on this memory.
I sincerely hope that social distancing melts away after the June 21.
I don’t want it to be a permanent fixture of our behaviour. It especially doesn’t belong in pubs.
There are a few pubs good enough to make one alter their journey.
Now, when I go to Greenwich, I alight at Maze Hill because it is nearer to The Plume of Feathers.
If this is not the best pub in Greenwich it is in the top two or three.
The Plume of Feathers 19 Park Vista, Greenwich SE10 9LZ
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