The flitting rain did its utmost to distract from us from the soiled shop fronts, the creaking launderette and the boarded-up brewery. Occasionally a bus passed our window, obscuring the lifeless vista and prompting a few dozy eye-rubs as we refocused on the world outside. Even the abrasive rasp of marble against cheap plastic from our regrettable game of ‘KerPlunk’ felt more like a soporific metronome than anything likely to raise the blood pressure.
The Professor Filch look-a-like at the end of the bar twitched awake, raising his head from his pint jar just long enough to croak for another beer. Behind him two gents rustled open their carrier bag and removed two more cans of popular faux-Australian lager; no effort made to conceal their contraband, but presumably preferring to risk the wrath of the barmaid than the wrath of their wives. The war-painted barmaid, midway through pouring Filch’s pint and disturbed by the carrier-bag rustle, looked over at the pair and their cans with a vacant glaze. Blinked. Shrugged.
There is a scene towards the end of the final Harry Potter film in which, post final battle, the actual Professor Filch (not this impostor!) begins repairing a destroyed Hogwarts castle by sweeping debris to the side – the effort, admirable as it is, is clearly insufficient to stem the tide. This image is mirrored here…
The Spread Eagle was once in the heart of a thriving Wandsworth; opposite the brewery, a coaching inn with stables and rooms, and a meeting point for the local barristers and lawyers and councilmen. Today they have illicit cans of Fosters, the very worst board games that Hasbro has to offer, and a minute plasma screen mounted just below the ceiling; limp attempts at gentrification lost like Filch’s broom in the rubble.
The pub itself is a like a museum piece, stuck in its point of time. Vast stain glass windows and screens separate the rooms. Wood panelled cubbies and leather arms chairs. A victim of the smoking ban in a less affluent area of London? It certainly feels like a cloud of smoke should be hanging in the air above a throng of babbling cockneys, sheltering from the storm outside with a roaring fire and the soothing comfort of warm reverie.
Alas, as the rain continued to patter against the window pane and with nothing but silence in the air, we drained our glasses, donned our coats and slipped into the grey afternoon. Memorable and forgettable in the same breath.