The Stour Valley needs its railway back

Changing Times ...
Time for a Change

The Stour Valley needs its railway back

New Tales from The Angel
- The Thorogood Era

Lest there be any doubt, these pages are an unofficial record of the goings on at The Angel, from the partisan point of view of a paying customer. All views expressed are those of the author. So up yours, Greene King.

18 October 2001

The New Era Begins

Monday, 8 October, 2001, saw the latest change of licensee of The Angel, with the departure of Jan 'n' Dave. Early indications are that the new incumbents are determined to maintain the essential character of the establishment.
Previous rumours concerning jukebox, lap dancers, mirror balls and wall-to-wall Little Boy Lager taps seem, therefore, to be exaggerated. We'll see.
Meanwhile, with due deference to the ancient mistrust between Glemsford and Long Melford (whence they come), we bid welcome to the Thorogood family, assorted dogs and whatever new ideas they bring (... er, we think).

3 November 2001

First impressons

It seemed appropriate to leave a respectful distance between the departure of the Taylors and adding the first responses to the Thorogood Tenure.
Now seems as good a time as any.

Let it be said that the first impressions are entirely positive. The Angel has not descended to the depths of a roadside tavern on the A13, nor has it declined into a comatose stereotype of a dying village boozer, destined only to become a bijou hideaway restaurant serving overpriced fancy food on octagonal white plates to over-salaried executives from a dot-com failure in the city.

In short, we're all still here.

As a case in point, we did hear the bar bell ring - once - at closing time during the first week, but we assume that the cloud of dust which emanated from it was enough to get across the message without any words being said.

Is there a guiding spirit?

Established clients of Angel hospitality will recall that, on the last two occasions of a tenancy change, the new régime has encountered strange problems with the quality of the IPA. Within days of Mo taking over in 1988, the ale assumed the flavour of TCP. When Jan 'n' Dave came on board, they immediately encountered a "no head" problem.

Although both problems were later identified as the product of poor quality control on the part of the brewer, there were those who cast doubts upon the cellar work of the new management.
It was really no surprise, then, that in the middle of the last week of October, the beer went flat. Again, certain cynics began to wonder whether it was a sign of lowering standards.

Of course, we who really know about these things realise that the problems are tests set by the long-term resident of the pub, he who has been here for several hundred years keeping a paternal eye on the place.

It was a cause for cynical amusement to hear that, when Peter called in the brewer to check the reason for poor quality ale, said representative's first question was "Where are your pumps?". That really says a lot for the way some of these conglomerates keep an eye on their outlets.
His next suggestion was to turn off the cooler: so we not only had flat beer, sometimes cloudy beer, we also had warm beer. John Major may like it. We don't.
The Angel cellar is renowned for maintaining a perfect temperature for the dispensing of the wonder stuff.
Anyway, the answer, in the end, seems to have been (surprise, surprise) a bad batch and nothing to do with the skill of the publican: all has now returned to normal, the cooler is back on, and the regulars are happy again.

We also hope the Spirit of The Angel has had enough fun and jolly japes for the moment.

Plus ça change

As mentioned above, there were many qualms before Peter, Marilyn and their team took over at The Angel.
It would be a very odd newcomer who did not institute a few changes.
It is fair to say that every change brought in so far has been met with acclaim by the regulars.

What follows is a brief digest of the developments:

  • Behind the bar, all the old optics have been swept away, and replaced by those continental-style dispensers that look like a biology lab model of a hip joint. Much tidier.
  • Whereas the previous concession to malt whisky was a dusty bottle of rubbishy, flashy Glenfiddich, we are now greeted by a gleaming range including Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, Cragganmore, Macallan and Talisker. If we can only persuade Peter to find Lagavulin and Bunnahabhainn, all will be perfect.
  • The incomers have brought their dogs with them. Two lovely springers, who take great delight in demolishing beer mats and crisps, and wagging manic tails at all and sundry.
  • The loos have been cheered up with better lighting and, in the gents at least, some "amusing" 18th century pornographic cartoons.
  • IPA remains at £1.95. The fact that Peter describes this as "cheap" may be ominous. He is also talking about bringing in some guest beers, which he describes as "expensive".
    Ho hum.
  • There is also rumour of handpumps for the guest beer, but we are assured the IPA will remain as "straight from the barrel".
  • We are also told that the carpet which was damaged in the recent flood may give way to the good old quarry tiles which lie beneath.
    Some of us can't wait.
  • The exotic bar snacks (Sesame Nut Crunch was my favourite) have disappeared for the time being, so its back to crisps and peanuts.
  • Another change has been the re-appearance of some blow-ins who couldn't stand the pace during the Taylor era.
    Welcome back, you lot. We hope you appreciate how hard we worked (and drank) to keep the place afloat.

Tommo Wields a Roller

The most obvious change to the dear old place has been the rapid transformation of the interior of the bar.

Down have come all the old pictures and mirrors and coat racks.
In has come Tommo with roller and Polyfilla and sugar soap.
In as short a time as it takes him to scrounge a fag, the bar walls have been transformed by the application of several coats of Malachite (Southern Railway) Green. The ceilings are ivory white, including that of the eyrie which, until now, was a lovely shade of Indian restaurant (LMS) maroon.

The walls are now spread with a tasteful array of prints and posters which all add to the quality of the place. As time permits I will try to provide interior shots of these improvements; meanwhile the panel on the left gives a rough idea of the shade of the walls.

Some things never change

  • The crib team continues to lose. They really are going out for the wooden spoon this year.
  • The Quiz team began its new season with a 57 - 41 victory over The Globe, Clare.

Home Thoughts From Abroad

News of the tenancy change swept round the internet with all the energy of a damp match. The guestbook has been swamped by an anxious enquiry from Bruce Rudd in New Zealand, and Old Salty in Geneva has been asking searching questions about the quality of the IPA.
I am pleased to be able to put their minds at rest.

... plus c'est la même chose.

On the whole, little else has changed. That Nice Mr Orton keeps cheerful despite the crib team. The cheeky young whippersnapper wanders back from Chelmsford sometimes. Jos moans about how much work he has to do, but then borrows a Big Car to take Tim, Steve P and Steve S to France to load up with enough wine to float the French Navy (if they've still got one). Roy Porter has made himself known, despite his grandson's attempts to warn the management. Ivan Pearson is on good form. Robert "Sippo" has moved on to IPA and Old Mother Riley still rattles the door.

Talking of Mother

We'd like, most sincerely, to congratulate Old Mother on becoming a father-in-law, on the occasion of his daughter's marriage to Robert Plumb. This could of course explain the wine run mentioned above (in case HM Customs are monitoring this). Well done everybody.

Thank You For The Music

Or rather, no thanks.
I have to be honest and state that the new régime's choice of music on the "system" is not to my taste. I do not like Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson or Dean Martin, or anything of that ilk. But then I didn't like Jan's collection of boy bands either.
At least Peter keeps it a bit quieter than before. Only trouble is, Jonathan Farrance likes it, and that Nice Mr Orton taps his foot to it too.

10 November 2001

World Exclusive: First Pictures: The Angel Goes Green

The new image of The Angel is shown to the world for the first time. You will notice, in particular, the mellow and calming tones of the Malachite Green walls, on this, a busy Friday evening.
A typical Friday night in the Green Bar
You may also just be able to make out a new addition to the Angel scene and ceiling: a remote controlled air purifier. This has been the subject of much amusement since it arrived: most people seem to want to know "What exactly does it do?"
Well, so far, it seems to sit there and hum, although we have detected Jim "Sizewell" Gardner's cigar smoke dissipating more rapidly than heretofore. So maybe it is a good thing.

It is nice to know the new management has a sense of humour. Since last week's addition to these pages, the board behind the bar has responded to suggestions about the improvements in this fashion:
Lap dancing? Karaoke?
"While stocks last?" "Lap dancing?" "Country and western?" Some people have even taken these seriously!

On into December 2001

I've decided to keep each addition to these pages separate, rather than simply add length. I hope regular readers will n ot get too confused.

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Page maintained by Steve Clarke, Copyright(c) Steve Clarke. Created: 10/11/99 Updated: 29/03/2002