New restaurants, cafes and takeaways come and go at such a rate round here these days it can be hard to keep up, so there's something reassuring about the continuing presence of a fish and chip shop and a Chinese takeaway that have been feeding me and my family for as long as I have lived in this corner of Hackney (nearly a quarter of a century, since you ask). Visiting them is always nice, largely because of the welcoming women behind their respective counters. Even if you don't go in for a few weeks, it's nice to know that they are there.
What I didn't know until the other day is that they know each other and appear to get on famously. This epic discovery occurred when I went into the Mermaid and found the Dan's Island matriarch in there, bantering cheerily with her counterpart while waiting for what she described as "a big, fat burger" to be prepared. Seeing the two together was mildly disorientating - an unexpected overlap between what, for years, I'd unconsciously assumed were two quite separate fast food worlds. But after the initial shock it became like witnessing the glorious alignment of two of the brightest stars of the Clapton Pond firmament. They will never be eclipsed.