No, not your blog of course. I concede that your posts are succinct, insightful, humorous and well worth reading. That is why I would appreciate it if you could spare a moment to cast your eye over my efforts and let me know how I can encourage people to read it. On the other hand it may be the most boring blog, someone's has to be.

Newark market place

Newark market place
Newark market place dull Saturday morning

Newark Church

Newark Church
Two residents at the weir

Snowy Dry Doddington

Snowy Dry Doddington
Snow on the road to not very Dry Doddington

Raleigh Runabout RM6 Refurbished

Raleigh Runabout RM6 Refurbished
Look for the "before" in the blog post

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Some things have not got better

Last Sunday night was as usual pub quiz night at the Castle and Falcon. Our team has up to seven members depending on who turns up. We didn't win last week but came second. The usual post performance inquest took place with individuals claiming that they had known and stated the answers to questions we had got wrong but had been overruled or ignored.

One of our keener and more capable male team members, Pete, has an openly hostile attitude to the only woman in our group. Jill is a divorced 60 year old who lives alone and I would guess is very lonely. For example she seems to have very little contact with her daughter and grandchildren who live in Newark. On Christmas Day she was allowed to visit them in the morning but just before dinner was served her daughter instructed her husband "you take mum home while I strain the veg then we can start when you get back". Jill told me she spent the rest of the day on her own and was devastated by the rejection she felt she had received.

Pete explains his extreme antipathy towards this mild and harmless individual "I don't want to be with women in the pub, if I wanted a woman to talk to I'd go out with our lass". It's strange really, apart from being a selfconfessed hard core racist he can be a very decent bloke.

I used to believe that such attitudes would be bound to erode as attitudes became ever more liberal after the sixties. It is depressing.

Met with my old boss on Tuesday, the first time I have seen him since he retired two years ago. He has Parkinsons and this precipitated his leaving work early. We had a good gossip and he told me that he is now a volunteer with the Motor Neurone Disease Society supporting sufferers living with this distressing illness. Restoration of faith in humanity.

Not all bad. I forgot to mention that I won fifty quid on Quiz Night in the Open the Box competition.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Queen surprise at funeral of local man

Freddy Mercury died on November 29th 1991. Press reports before Christmas on the anniverary of his death reminded me of a sad but amusing incident that I experienced a couple of years ago.

In 1998 I took early retirement from my job as an Area Manager with a Social Services Department. The department was being restructured and three of us were finished. One of these, Mike, had become very disillusioned with the organisation and could not wait to be gone. He almost fell over his laptop case in his haste to be out of the building. Soon Mike found himself a position as the Chair of his local Primary Health Care Trust. I saw him a couple of times and he told me he enjoyed the role immensly.

Mike was a decent man, slightly pompous in a nice way, conservative of dress apart from always wearing white socks. I would never have taken him for a Freddy Mercury fan but I was to be proved wrong.

A couple of years ago I was told that he had died suddenly and unexpectedly. I went to the funeral at Grantham Crematorium and as he was a popular well liked man there were many in attendance. The usual solemn music was the order of the day.

At the end of the proceedings it was announced that Queen had been one of his favourite bands and an uplifting track would be played whilst the many mourners filed out.

The elderly organist put on the CD, I can't remember which song, and the masses shuffled along. By the time the track finished only half the people had left. Before the obviously inexperienced DJ could get the disc off and to his embarrassment the next track had started. Yes you've got it. "Another One Bites The Dust" pounded out of the speakers. Mike would have loved it. In fact with his level of self belief he probably organised it.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

What's in a local pub?

They say that good snooker players have had a misspent youth. I am no good at snooker despite a misspent youth..... and adulthood. Although I don't regret it I have spent far too much time in pubs. Local pubs not cheap beer warehouses like Wetherspoons.

Now sadly due to a mix of social, cultural and economic factors the institution of the "local" seems to be dying. I have patronised the (not very) New Inn and the Horse and Jockey for the last twenty years. Both have become a shadow of their former selves in the past five years. The New Inn closed over a year ago and has been boarded up. There are rumours it is due to reopen. I am not too optimistic about this or the chances of success, but if it does what should it as a "local" have on offer?

  1. When you go in you will almost always see someone you know and hopefully can stand talking to.
  2. Often this will be the bar staff who are paid to be nice, to your face at least.
  3. A landlord and/or landlady. They may be tenants but if the pub becomes successful whoever owns it will make sure they are soon managers.
  4. The landlord will know everything, have had many life experiences and may claim to own a racehorse.
  5. Even if he doesn't own a horse he will advise you of his frequent success at the bookies or the racecourse. The fruits of this may not often be seen.
  6. The landlady will "take" to some of the punters and not others. They will know which section they are in.
  7. She will have a unique and bizarre fashion sense. Her clothes will come from some special "landlady boutique". Non licenced victuallers will not have access to this fashion emporium.
  8. The landlord will think he is in charge, the landlady will allow him this conceit but will know that he is just a drone.
  9. Drinks will not be served by the landlord who is above this and anyway is occupied with the important business of studying form.
  10. Drinks will be served by pleasant, assertive women who are well able to deal with stupid comments from the mixed bag of intoxicated customers who are called to the bar.
  11. The landlord will study their form and may consider he has, as their employer, a special relationship with them.
  12. The landlady will be aware of these old fool delusions but will nevertheless keep an eye on the situation. It may be necessary to sack the member of staff.
  13. Main problem will be to find a reason that doesn't contravene annoying PC employment legislation. What are they alleged to have pinched? Does landlords significant backside count?
  14. Beer and lager will be sold. As no one drinks the beer anymore beware as it may be rather sour due to spending too long in the pipes.
  15. Drinks will be on the expensive side. Perhaps double the price of what you would pay to drink supermarket stuff at home.
  16. There will not be many solicitors or accountants in the bar.
  17. Unless they are from the pub's holding company and have come to close it down.
  18. There will be darts and pool teams.
  19. If there isn't the pub will not have a large enough customer base to survive. Football teams and fishing clubs are an additional bonus.
  20. Food will not be served. Except that is for haselet, black pudding and cheese and onion sandwiches provided for the darts and pool teams.
  21. If you don't know what haselet is contact me to find out.
  22. If you do know what haselet is contact me to let me know, quick.
  23. The sandwich platters will be decorated by the landlady with three pieces of lettuce and a tomato. What is left after the team has had their fill will be gratefully consumed by the non sporting customers
  24. Usually they only get the lettuce leaves but this is a useful contribution to the five vegetables they consume each week.
  25. The others are four portions from the local chippy.
  26. There will be a juke box.
  27. The juke box will have many compilation CD's on it.
  28. "Waterloo Sunset" will often be played.
  29. Men who used to have long dark brown curly hair, and now have little will wax lyrical about the 60's (or seventies or eighties) when music was not like it is now.
  30. Customers will argue about things of no consequence, for example how to pronounce haselet.
  31. They will fall out about money, religion and sport but will usually have forgotten by the next time they see each other.
  32. And have the same arguments all over again.
  33. Unfortunately racist views are common but denied or unrecognised as such.
  34. Punters will swear despite the image of the local portrayed on TV soaps.

I hope the New Inn opens again, I can't wait to get my social life back.