Higher State of Pubnessness
We've just had a week's holiday in London.

Proper holiday -- not archive digging, or interviewing, or researching -- just doing whatever the hell we felt like.

(Well, apart from a brief interlude signing books at the Great British Beer Festival.)

It turns out what we wanted to do was walk and walk and walk, pop into the odd pub, and then walk a bit more.

After two years intensive research, though, we're now so tuned into pubs that we've started seeing them, or at least their ghosts, everywhere.

In Streatham where we were staying (house sitting for friends) we noticed an ironwork sign over the door of a letting agents office: SALOON. It doesn't look much now but a hundred years ago it must have been quite a handsome multi-room establishment.

We found ourselves stopping dead at the only half-conscious sighting of a bit of tiling or a cellar door set into the pavement outside a residential back-street property -- "Must have been a pub!"

Sometimes, we got it wrong, over-recognising: a post-war nursery or doctor's surgery looks a lot like a post-war pub without an identifying signage, so plain were those buildings; and inter-war pubs often look like houses, post-offices, tax offices...

Thankfully, there are such amazing resources online these days that in the vast majority of cases we were able to find some kind of local historical society paper or census record that could help us work it out, even as we strode on across a common or through some housing estate or other, staring at our phone screens.

The oddest stretches we walked, though, were between Streatham and Croydon, and Walthamstow and Chingford. For whatever reason -- the route we chose, or the puritanical bent of housing developers and councils in the early 20th century -- there were no pubs to look at at all. It's weird, almost unnerving, to walk three miles up a road in England and see not one pub, or even the remains of one.

Where did those people drink? In town before catching the train home, we suppose, or at home, or (shudder) not at all.