/Take me home please
Manze's, 226 High Street, Sutton
Season 2013-2014

Season's halfway point often falls within the first ten days of January. It's a time of brave new beginnings and in that spirit the Pie and Mash Club headed into the unknown south, towards the self-sufficient Surrey suburb of Sutton.

We couldn't resist a Mossey photo opportunity on the pedestrianized precinct.

Some ten minutes' walk downhill, at the lower-rent end of the High Street, stands a green-and-gilt fronted edifice sure to raise the spirits of any stodge-seeker.

And if that weren't enough, we had the particular pleasure of apprehending a long-lost combatant from Season 94-95. The only member of the Club to have the word 'Pie' in his name, Piers Tilbury was welcomed back into the fold after a rather harsh ex-communication in the last millennium. Despite advancing years, he still enjoys an active lifestyle.

Other notables joined us to queue inside the shop. The Sutton branch of Manze's has been at this location for over 15 years.

Doug was sporting his mash-day tee-shirt; it's worth pointing out that Manze's sell their own branded 'merch' at all three branches as well as on their website – a savvy move in these austere times.

Stewed.

In impeccable emerald livery, two dinner ladies were only too pleased to serve and to add a splash of humour to the event: Trish [near right] and Leslie – also referred to with some affection as 'Frederica Bumsqueak.'

The dining room was chocka with old and young alike, including this lovely lady Anne [below] who was enjoying a Friday lunchtime treat with her son.

This is not Anne's son, it's Roy Flooks, last seen in Clark's back in 2007. Sutton is but a short carriage ride from his historic Tudor pile in the heart of the Surrey countryside.

The Mosse-ster puts paid to another modest portion. With an average of 11.5 he's unlikely to get into the medals, but sheer consistency and will power have earned him fourth place as we head into the second half of 13–14.

Two oldsters pause during a leisurely lunch.

Tilbury was last seen in action on the afternoon of Friday 10th March 1995. It was an outing to Cooke's of the Cut which ended in the Mister Pound Shop on the Strand, wherein we were enticed to "stroll around, it's only a pound". Thus was purchased the MIster Pound Tie of legend.

Piers seemed to be enjoying an open-ended Friday lunchtime reminiscent of a bygone era of publishing. A stalwart art director of local large-print book specialist, Severn House, it's my hope that he'll throw some work in the direction of master retouch and restoration specialist MIster Roy Flooks. Maybe duffing out the inglorious smudges from his own chequered history?

Denise Rouse crossed the county of Hertfordshire and a major world metropolis just to join the fun. Denise described the pastry as 'lovely' but the filling 'lumpy'.

13.30: Judith and Mike at the marble-top.

Nigel Pond is a veritable Marco Polo of Pie and Mash, journeying to the furthest corners of the realm to taste tuck and tick another shop off his list. The dedicated Hammers fan and longtime correspondent of the Club lives in Epsom, and couldn't resist joining us in his nearest Pie outlet for a solid 2-2-1 formation. Nigel has visited more than 50 shops in a long career which includes a trip to Atkins of Fife Road, Kingston-Upon-Thames on 1st June 1995 – such is the remarkable detail of his own records. It was a privilege to have him on board.

Here in Manze's of Sutton we were sat on the narrowest tables I've come across, ruling out any chance of a head-to-head contest.

In gob we thrust.

Dodge splashed the vinny all over, but blotted his scoresheet by leaving a mound of mash at meal's end. It was nonetheless a successful outing for the South London Bluesman as he managed to shift another copy of his flavoursome tome, 'Pie 'n' Mash 'n' Liquor'.

13.40: Mash and Gricey.

 

Would you adam 'n' eve it, these two mid-table mavericks have never been introduced!

In my eagerness to get snaps of Benford, I completely overlooked an Eastenders cast member sat at the same table. But then as Paul Grice pointed out, I 'wouldn't recognise him if I saw him in a pie shop'. In a fit of pie-que, the young TV celeb dashed his fizzy drink on the floor and left.

The shop guvnor, Rick, was an affable and voluble host who gave us a potted history: from 1890 until 1902 the shop at Tower Bridge Road was a Cooke's, before it became the famous Manze's we know today. It now forms part of the current three-part business which also comprises the Sutton branch and the Peckham shop, at which latter all the pies are prepared, including those for mail-order. For a little more history, visit the Manze's website.

Judith rated the Manze's lunch 7.5 out of 10.

There was no afters but plenty of laughter.
It was a fine turnout for the start of a new year.

Pie then pint at The Moon on the Hill with Tilbury, Grice and Goldwater. A good name for a City firm, don't you think?

Let's hope that it's not another 19 years before we next see the affable man from Hampton, and let's also hope he got back home in good shape for his daughter's 6th birthday celebrations. Cheers Piers!

St@