There’s a three-headed nugget of pure delight to be found within this roundup, from The Drinks Business, of famous people who own pubs. It is this: Sir Ian McKellen owns a pub called The Grapes; it used to be Charles Dickens’ local; and the Sir will sometimes show up to play—or run—the bar’s pub quiz.
It seemed too good to be true, but a very wimpy Google search revealed that no, this is real, and we should probably all try it immediately. Just look:
And again (maybe the same night)?
And this one:
And one more, here. McKellen also wrote the pub’s history page. An excerpt:
In 1820 the young Charles Dickens visited his godfather in Limehouse and knew the district well for 40 years. The Grapes appears, scarcely disguised, in the opening chapter of his novel Our Mutual Friend:
“A tavern of dropsical appearance… long settled down into a state of hale infirmity. It had outlasted many a sprucer public house, indeed the whole house impended over the water but seemed to have got into the condition of a faint-hearted diver, who has paused so long on the brink that he will never go in at all....”
Other popular writers have been fascinated by Limehouse: Oscar Wilde in Dorian Gray; Arthur Conan Doyle, who sent Sherlock Holmes in search of opium provided by the local Chinese immigrants; more recently Peter Ackroyd in Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem.
Imagine Sir Ian joins your team and then the final round is Lord Of The Rings and then you get every question right and win a gift card or something. That’s heaven, right there.