A couple of weeks ago I had some visitors who, being Dickens fans, expressed a strong desire to see the Trafalgar Tavern and experience the famous Whitebait Dinners. In the event, they asked the timely question of what a whitebait actually is and, grossed-out by my answer (aw, c’mon, they were Americans…) decided on the fish and chips instead, but I digress.
Something happened that I swear has never, ever happened to me before in there – we got a window seat. And because I had never even got near a window seat before, I had never seen this battered, curious little plaque, tucked just inside the balustrade balcony outside:
In case you can’t read it (and I had to squint), it says:
Bon Viveur, Raconteur,
Bar stool philospher
Lifetime Guest of the Year
16 – 5 – 26 – 1 – 5 – 01
Now. It doesn’t take much working out that Lawrence Lord was clearly the Trafalgar Tavern’s best regular ever, but who was he? He only died ten years ago, but I can find no trace of him and, without this (very) discreet plaque I wouldn’t have even heard of him.
I don’t know if the Trafalgar Tavern really gets ‘regulars’ these days, given its popularity with tourists (maybe someone can tell me?) but back in 2001 it was a different place. I certainly remember going to hear music upstairs (there were weekly gigs in the 90s) and it had a much more ‘local’ feel than it does now (that’s not necessarily a dig, btw, places change). From the pub I remember, I could well imagine a loyal clientele that would have been going so long that they (in this case literally) eventually became part of the furniture.
I know nothing about Lawrence Lord and this seems a sad thing. It also seems that there could be someone here who did know him, who could to tell us about a man who was clearly so important to the little area at the end of Park Row that his mates gave him a plaque. Even now, that is a rare thing indeed. I should like to think that, ten years on, we could raise a glass to a genuine Greenwich bon viveur, raconteur and bar stool philosopher…