The Pakenham Arms is a pub in Calthorpe street, London WC1 very close to the famous Post Office (Royal Mail) sorting centre of Mount Pleasant (with its equally famous underground private railway system – but that's another story!).
My first visit to the pub was in 1976 with a group of engineers from the TRC where I had recently started working on shift. In those days, a skeleton crew were left back at the centre while the rest went out for an evening drink.
On this particular occasion, I had been invited by one of the T.O. (Technical officer) that I worked with, Dave Caldicott. At the time, I knew nothing of 'Real Ale' but was warned I could only come along for a drink providing I "..didn't drink poofy lager.."!
OK, with the prospect of staying at work or going to a pub, I agreed.
Entering the pub, I remember it being extremely busy.
A few handpumps around but I had no idea what to drink. Dave suggested Brakspears ordinary which I tried and have never looked back!
I continued to visit the pub and had many, many good times there. Some people thought I had shares in the place I was there so often!
The original manager and manageress were called Sandra & Mike (I think) but at some point Podraig (Pat) & Vicky Twomey took over. I got to know them and their children Liam, Eoin and twins Jack & Alice very well over the coming years.
I also got to know a lot of the bar staff, especially New Zealander Jude Wilson who was later to take on running the pub after Pat & Vicky returned to Ballydehob in Ireland with their family. Others were Lawrence, from Youghal and, obviously for an Irish-run pub, Shaumus.
There were some regulars too: Charles (Ferrand), Italian, Marco(?), Lawrence wife Gloria plus the famous dog, George. There were also the postmen from the Carribean, notably 'Joe' who drank Powers rum in copious quantities!
As well as the people, Pat & Vicky kept dogs. A Boxer called 'Paddy' and two Kerry blues called Brady & Danny. Tragically, one of the Kerry blues developed an illness and had to be put down but, even more tragically, the family friend that took it to the vet took the wrong one so eventually both were put to sleep!
I celebrated my 35th birthday there and it was the first pub I visited after my accident in September 1997.
In 1978, we played Gerry Rafferty's "Baker street" on the jukebox so many times on the trot that the manager came over to put an out-of-order sign on it until we explained it was us that kept putting it on! At the same time, there was another label in the machine that was titled "A load of Shit". Well, we had to play that to see what it was. It was "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush. The manager hated the song and had replaced the original label with his own one so was less than pleased when we found it and started playing it!