Words & Photo - Matthew Curtis
For as long as I’ve been drinking and working at the Duke’s Head in Highgate, Mick has been there. In fact he’s been there for a lot longer than I have. This was his pub. He still lives in the flat upstairs and still drinks at the bar most days, always sitting in his usual stool at the end of the bar.
Before its current incarnation, The Duke’s Head was a Guinness pub, through and through. When Guinness was eventually replaced with an alternative stout he drank that instead. These days he prefers to take his beer from the hand pull and he’s taken a particular liking to the beers from Five Points. He never asks for Five Points by name though. No, Mick will gesture towards the board and ask for “a pint of Hackney,” referring not to the beer or brewery but to the place, which we always chalk up next to each beers description.
This weekend I started my usual Sunday afternoon shift at 2pm and Mick was sat in his stool at the bar as per usual. A friend of his was attempting to buy a round of drinks, but he flat out refused to let them pay, thrusting the money into my hand before his friend had a chance to do the same. I pour their drinks and hand Mick his change. He immediately thrusts a crisp ten-pound note into my hand and tells me to “get myself a pint.” In his thick Irish drawl.
“I’m ok for now Mick, I’ve just started my shift, I’ll have a drink later.” I reply.
“No, go on, buy yourself a drink.”
“Ok then Mick, thanks, I’ll leave it in the line for later on.”
Mick then shoots me a slightly frustrated look.
“No, I’m buying you a drink. I want to watch you pour it now. C’mon let’s have a drink.”
And who was I to refuse?
*Mick isn't in the placeholder photo above. I've never felt up to asking if I can take his picture and I doubt I ever will. So if you want to see him, come to the pub.