|In the 70's "The Queens" in Tottenham Lane was the unquestioned centre of social life in Crouch End. Every session the bars were filled with a cosmopolitan mix of Crouchenders listening to the live music, talking politics, or just drinking, and many of the friendships which developed are still flourishing today.
The Queens was managed by Jimmy Gleeson and his wife Shirley, along with legendary bar staff Ruby Bremner and Derek Thompson. Derek had the honour of being the only barman ever to be awarded a Gold Star by Alcoholics Anonymous. in recognition of his reluctance to serve customers.
The live music varied greatly in both style and quality, from the superb folk-rock group Chanter to the Irish duo Larry and the Two-Tones - known locally as Larry and the Two-Tunes. The resident pianists included Morgan 'Thunderclap' Jones and everyone's favourite Richard Fitzherbert. Fitz was a brilliant performer when he was sober, and his playing improved with each pint of Guinness, although he did occasionally fall asleep at the piano towards the end of the evening.
The cultural blend of the area was reflected in the clientele - on one occasion we counted 31 different nationalities in one area (32 if we included Yorkshire) - and the Queens became the focus of the Seychelles community in London. Their celebrations and curry parties are still remembered, and although many of the Seychellois have now scattered to all corners of the world, some, such as Brian Lebon, still remain to carry on the tradition.
A thriving chess school was established in the side bar, with up to four boards in play every evening, although the normally high standard of play tended to decline as the evening wore on. Games were played with an intensity worthy of a world championship, and on one occasion the players were so engrossed in their game that they continued well after closing time. This resulted in chess being barred from the pub for several months, relocating to the Three Compasses in Hornsey High Street until the landlord relented.
It has only been possible to touch on the atmosphere of The Queens at this time. Many stories remain untold, and many of the extraordinary characters who provided 'local colour' are unrecorded, but they live on in the memory of everyone who was a 'regular' in the seventies. The Queens is now a ''gastropub', but is still haunted by the ghosts of 'Absent Friends'.