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Someday My Prints Will Come

I don't know about you (well, obviously I don't, I'm not even sure who you are) but Amazon and their associates have the happy ...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Last day of the 'Slide into Sixty' event!

Just to remind you that today (Sunday, 31st August) is the last day on which you'll be able to get Steady Past Your Granny's for just 79p, Crutches for Ducks at just £1.99 and A Kick at the Pantry Door for just 99p, as I've now slid into sixty with a deafening thump :-)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Knowing your Station

I thought the following was vaguely amusing, but it's sunk without trace wherever I've posted it.  So, let's see how it does here:

My early years are something of a mystery! One account has me wandering, as an infant, around Paddington railway station, dressed in an oversized duffel coat and wearing a gigantic hat. I had a marmalade sandwich in one hand and a four pack of lager in the other. Around my neck was a label saying 

'Please look after his beer'. 


Friday, 22 August 2014

A Grand Day Out!

As the next instalment of this story is due to appear in the Derby Telegraph on 29th August, I thought it was about time I shared the first part with you:

Dropping my 3 year old grandson off for his end of term Pre-School outing to Rugeley (which wouldn’t be my first choice of location, but then I’m not 3) reminded me of outings over the years and, in particular, those outings that have been a feature of the various pubs and clubs I’ve frequented.

I don’t suppose it is anywhere near as common now as it used to be but, in my youth, every pub had an Outing Society, charged with arranging a grand day out for the regulars for one day of the year.  Throughout the long winter months, raffles would be run, blackouts would be bandied about and a whole host of other fund-raising activities would take place, all with the aim of making that year’s trip to the seaside one to remember.  I suppose, at one time, these Outing Societies provided the sole opportunity for many to get a glimpse of the sea and have a great time without breaking the bank.  By the time of my involvement, the significance of the annual outing had lessened but it was still a much loved event on the pub’s calendar.

As my parents kept the New Talbot in Anglesey Road, Burton, for a few years in the 1960s, I was introduced to the peculiarities of the annual outing at quite a young age.  I remember it had all the hallmarks of a military operation. 

The New Talbot in the mid-1960s

On the day of the outing, the platform of Burton Station would be thronged with the denizens of a multitude of pubs and clubs, all waiting for the arrival of the train.  As the landlord, my dad would be leading the team that had the barrel of beer, boxes of glasses and trays of food.  Being part of this team was always the desired location for those who ‘liked a drink’ as it meant that they could help themselves throughout the trip and didn’t have to wait to be served. 

A ''New Talbot' jolly-boys outing in the 1960s - my dad is third from the left, in front of the beer!

Once the train arrived, there would be mad scramble to find the designated carriages for your pub.  The beer etc. would be loaded, often into a guard’s van or similar.  Everyone would claim their seats and a half-pint glass would appear, magically, in front of you.  I was to learn that you had to guard this glass with your life as it was for your sole use throughout the trip. 

Shortly afterwards, and often before the train had even left the station, the first jugs of beer would start to make their way up and down the carriages.  As Outing Societies tended to be a more or less exclusively male preserve, there was little in the way of allowance for any exotic tastes in beverage.  Basically, everyone either had draught beer or orange squash.  You have to be a pretty dedicated drinker to enjoy a glass of flat, warm beer at 08.30 in the morning, on an empty stomach.

Glasses having been charged, the next thing to arrive would be a filled roll of some description.  For the same reason that the choice of beverage was limited, so was the choice of filling (variations on a theme of cheese, usually).  Then there would be various raffles and blackouts and so on to while away the journey.  You usually found that the bonhomie of the trip increased in direct proportion to the frequency of the beer jugs moving up and down the carriages.

On one memorable trip, a couple of enterprising blokes from our pub brought a smaller version of a one-armed bandit slot machine along.  I was never actually sure whether this was to boost the funds of the Society or was just a bit of individual entrepreneurship, but it was warmly greeted by those who liked a flutter.  The thing must have been incredibly heavy, even at the start, as it was of metal and chrome construction, but they certainly earned their money as the trip wore on, as they carted the contraption from table to table and it became ever more filled with sixpences.  I don’t think they repeated the exercise in later years and I imagine most of what they earned would have had to go towards hernia operations!

Have you got any memories of pub outings?  I'd love to hear them.