The Grifﬁn, Clerkenwell Road, E.C.1
It’s about time we had a shaggy dog story. There being no dog to
listen to it and sniff, here we go:
A gentleman entered a pub-it may have been an inn or
a tavern. He stood there enjoying his pint. He did not admire
the pretty barmaid more than any other man might; he was
not that kind of a man, if you follow me. In short, he was doing
that highly unusual thing””he was minding his own business,
and was ﬁnding it good.
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Recovering consciousness, so to speak,
he looked round the bar in a friendly, casual way. And to his
amazement he saw a man sitting down playing a game of chess,
his dog sitting at the opposite end of the table. He stared at the
dog, who was concentrating on his next move against his master.
Buddy – Scottish Collie
Our gentleman hurriedly counted the number of drinks he had
enjoyed, and when he found that he could count, decided that
his eyes were recording the truth. Unable to contain himself
any longer, he went across to the strange game of chess, and
addressed his remarks to the man (not the dog) and said: “Excuse
me, sir, but you’ve got a very clever dog here”; and the man
(not the dog) replied, deprecatingly: “Oh, no. I wouldn’t say
that. He’s not too clever. I’ve beaten him twice already. . . .”
I rather care for that one. But Buddy wouldn’t because he
really is clever.
The Grifﬁn is easily accessible. It stands at the junction of Theo-
bald’s Road, Rosebury Avenue and Clerkenwell Road half-way
between King’s Cross and Holborn.
If Buddy isn’t outside as we arrive, it’s quite safe to enter.
But if we ﬁnd him outside, looking just a little stern, we may safely
conclude that it is not opening time. Buddy is that kind of
Eventually, however, Buddy having permitted entry, we ﬁnd
ourselves in a tavern that was the tap-room of the original Reid’s
Brewery eighty years ago. Much beer has ,owed since then. We
make friends with the approachable boss of the tavern; but here
we must be careful for it is well known that Buddy considers himself
So with Buddy’s permission, we make our way down to the
cellars and see the old pipe that used to bring water from the River
Fleet for the express purpose of brewing beer. We can also see
the racks on which used to hang the harness of the truly giant
horses that pulled the beer waggons for the refreshment of thirsty
London. Here, too, are the shelves where bacon was stored, for the
workmen at the brewery.
Mine Host, having made a fuss of Buddy, we may even be
allowed to see the portrait of Lord Nelson as a boy, painted by
You might easily enough never have been able to enter The
Grifﬁn. In the I9I4.—’I8 war, the ﬁrst bomb to drop from a Zeppelin
fell on the roof of this house. Fortunately, it didn’t explode.
As for Buddy—the Boss with the Brain—he is eight years of age,
and is a baby of the London Blitz. His brain power owes much,
it -is supposed, to heredity, for he’s a cross between a Scottish
collie and a retriever. In other words, he is a typical English
When the nearby Daily Graphic oﬂice (or, as it then was, Daily
Sketch) ran a campaign for road safety, it needed a dog to demon-
strate the height of canine wisdom on how to cross a road in the
correct manner and how not to. It chose Buddy for this
honourable task. ‘
Boss in Buddy
There is a good deal of the Boss in Buddy, particularly in the
truly tantalizing matter of the .Licensing hours. This bright dog
seems to have an uncanny mastery of the London Licensing code.
For example, should Mine Host be engaged in friendly conversation
with one of his customers when he should be thinking of calling
“last orders”, Buddy will very soon remind him of the fact, with
an imperious bark. In this matter Buddy is remarkably vocal–
there is no room for the slightest misunderstanding.
He is also a past master in the art of telling off just listen to
him in action should a member of the staff or a customer break
a glass within sight or hearing of Buddy. He gives them the works.
His Scottish ancestry comes out too on occasion. When anybody
(it doesn’t matter who it is) drops a coin, only the landlord is
allowed to pick it up. It’s just an old Buddy custom, and it will
stay that way so long as he’s the Boss.
This talented dog is also interested in ﬁre precautions. It’s not
enough that a customer should ﬂing his cigarette down and then stamp it out.
Oh, no! He’s not satisﬁed until he has picked up the
cigarette end and chews the end oﬂ’. Then, and then only, does he
know that the cigarette is well and truly out in The Grifﬁn way.
So that you can see for yourself, even though this dog takes a
good deal on himself, it cannot be denied that he is extremely
clever. And it has to be remembered that he is entirely self-taught.
The next time you’re passing—don’t. Just pop into The Grifﬁn
and make yourself known to Buddy. You will very probably ﬁnd
favour in his eyes. The next time I go, I am seriously thinking of
taking a chess board with me.