Take me home please
Manze, Chapel Market N1
Season 2013-2014

It was a nondescript October afternoon in N1. Nothing to signal the auspicious conjunction of two behemoths of goodwill and fraternity – the Pie and Mash Club and the Freemasons. Both bodies were intent on a full and nourishing lunch at Manze's on Chapel Street.

This 'genre mash-up' was enabled by visionary Paul Gale [pictured] of Lapis Magnes Lodge No. 5024, this year celebrating its 85th anniversary; the Pie and Mash League is a mere 19-year old stripling by comparison.

He came out of the Deep South, where he plies his trademark electric blues-rock in bars and taverns from South Norwood to Croydon – and deeper beyond. His name is Dodge Rogers, aka The Crystal Palace Cowboy, aka The Liquor Larynx.

On this Friday lunchtime he sidled up to the Manze's Marble Top to fill his cowboy boots with his favourite fuel. Dodge and his band 'Blues Hammer' have a packed itinerary this autumn. Check it out here and get along to a guaranteed good time.

Manze's possesses a classic tile-and-marble dining room bound to inspire the loquacious and lyrical. Which reminds me Dodge has beefed up his Pie and Mash Book with some tasty new morsels. It now bulks out to a chunky 256 pages and you can buy it for £7.99 online at Lulu [click here].

Dodge was accompanied by his charming companion Hazel Elliott, offering up opportunity to present the good lady with her award for under-achievement in Season 12-13.

The manliness of the occasion was further leavened by the delightful presence of diminutive Italian gastro-pixie Sabrina Bordin, long-suffering companion of your stodgy statistician. As you can see, her pie is presented in its correct, upturned position. Sabrina is in the final year of her Western Herbal Medicine Degree, and this dose of parsley-packed liquor will surely inspire her to dissertate in the months to come.

Manze's Marvellous Medicine.

Statto's plan for a stewed starter was scuppered by the advance reserve of eels by the Masons. Their level of organisation does not disappoint.

So the Encona Hot Sauce fell upon the jellies instead, creating a bilious-looking, yet unexpectedly delicious appetiser.

Pie-pushing postie Chris Charalambous gives a full Cheshire for the lens. The picture shows no pastry left unturned – it was a six-pie put down made the more astonishing by the breathtaking speed and casualness of its despatch. Is his the new face of Royal Mail PLC? The share price at close of trade on Friday 1st November was 574 [up 14] so my advice is 'Pie, Pie, Pie!'

Edward Mosse came in behind the Masons and was thereby able to get a leftover portion of stewed eels. It's the perfect foodstuff for Edward's mercurial brain.

They might lack the nonchalant flair of Chris Charalambous, but they certainly give 110% effort on the field.

Alan Smith stocked up for another summer in the Southern Hemisphere – we hope to see him again at season's end.

Ben Hayes grappled manfully with Manze's double mash portion – it's a real show-stopper if you're out of liquor.

There's Andy Potter on a personal pilgrimage to the peak of Mashu Piecchu.

And lo and behold, the lone ranger of Interior Services Group, Jason Sharp. Last seen in action over two years ago on 23-09-11, he was a most welcome addition to the merry throng in the rear booths. Jason admitted to being somewhat in awe of Chris 'Celebrity' Charalambous, whom he met here for the first time.

A 'trowel' of freemasons enjoy that expansive post-lunch feeling. Andre de St Jorre [seen here, far right] recalled short-trousered and scuff-kneed visits to the local pie shop of his Canning Town youth – George's of Hermitage Road.

For what we have received may the Lord make us truly thankful . . .

A highly visible Doug Benford quipped that we were being 'groomed' for the masons. But the gentle babble of banter at the back of the shop was shattered by Doug's field telephone. My old oppo Luke Roberts [second from left] had to pause his shovel mid-air, quite unable to believe his ears . . .

'Hello Dad, I can't talk now.'

But it was too late to salvage the situation – minus 5 points. Every seasoned pie and masher knows that's the rule, even if Her Maj is on the blower.

It became apparent that this was the table of shame. After an all-night shift, a shish kebab and six pints of stout, Russell Merriweather Sharp [far right] simply couldn't hack it. 'I was forced to have it,' was his pitiful plea. Grounds for clemency? Objection over-ruled. The defendant was found guilty of negligence on three counts, incurring the full penalty points. If it's any consolation Russ, you're well placed for this season's wooden spoon.

 

Manze's magic mash-room.

[Near right] Sabrina Bordin is dwarfed by a stack of leather-bound lodge business.

[Far right] Statto statisticates.

N.B. If you fancy pre-theatre pie and mash, it's possible on Thursday and Friday nights with free parking after 6.30!

The Chapel Dumpling Gang.

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