3 January 2002
Livening up for Christmas
December 2001 brought with it a steadily increasing pace of change at The Angel.
2 - 4 - 6 - 8 ... (or not)
Saturday 15 December was PARTY TIME at The Angel. As part of the preparations for Christmas, Mr Thorogood had arranged for an appearance by Tom Robinson and friends to provide live music for PARTY TIME.
Unfortunately, Peter's Party coincided with the Christmas Dinner of the Esteemed Morris Men of Little Egypt so your correpondent was unable to be present until the very last knockings, but we got there in time to hear 3 numbers from a very good repertoire. It was obvious that all present had enjoyed an excellent evening, aided by the copious buffet refreshment provided by our Gracious Host.
Live music is a rarety at The Angel - the occasional, but very welcome, visit by the peripatetic Diddly Diddly merchants normally being the extent of it - so we can hope that this experiment will be repeated.
As recorded elsewhere, the new régime has been promising the arrival of guest beers since his takeover.
A delay was caused by some wrangling over the provision of the beer engines deemed necessary to dispense said delicacies.
This stand-off lasted until just before Christmas. Then, in one swift coup, the bar space was invaded by two gleaming pump handles. Soon afterwards, beer clips appeared. And soon after that, the precious liquids began flowing. The first two "guest" ales were Greene King's own "Strong Suffolk", weighing in at a hefty 6.0% ABV, and the familiar "Old Speckled Hen", still sold by the mega-brewers as Morlands but, since the Abingdon brewery where it originated is now a block of fancy Thames Valley flatlets, now brewed in Bury St Edmunds alongside the more familiar Suffolk brews.
The next pairing has been Draught Bass with Wychwood Brewery's "Hobgoblin", both of which have been on splendid form so far.
Lest any distant fans should be worried, the staple of all Angel drinkers, the IPA, is still purveyed in a state of excellence straight from the barrel, untainted by any mechanical aid.
Theakston's Old Peculiar. That's what.
As Christmas approached, the excitement mounted. As promised, the Angel remained largely free of tacky decorations and ersatz carols, although Mr Thorogood was heard - frequently - explaining the exorbitant cost of the green and red garlands that were strung above the bar. There were also some odd sprigs of mistletoe distributed about the beams, which went largely ignored, except by Jim Sizewell Gardner, who seized every opportunity and passing woman to revive ancient wisdom and tradition. At least, we gather it classes as a tradition for Jim, and undoubtedly needs to be revived.
Custom throughout the build up to Christmas was healthy, with a number of blow-ins reappearing to sample the enhanced pleasures of the Angel.
Christmas Eve saw the place positively humming, as many regulars were joined by visiting family members. Even the eyrie was full to bursting, and the new fireplace earned its keep. Included in this group were that nice Mr Orton and his sons.
Christmas and beyond
The traditional Christmas lunchtime gathering had the walls of the old place bulging with merrymakers. Doubtless a few turkey wings frazzled a little at the edges as a result, and a few puddings climbed their own way out of the basin, but it only happens once a year, so who cares?
Boxing Day was a bit quieter, but our real sympathy goes out to poor old Jos, who struggled up the hill round about 10 p.m. for his customary quiet half gallon, only to find a state of darkness and closure hanging around the hallowed portals. So, all he could do was go all the way home again, stone cold sober.
On Friday 28 December, the Angel was invaded by an itinerant band of players known as the Stour Valley Mummers, who displayed their thespian talents to all and sundry in their seasonal rendition of the battle between Good and Evil. The terrifying exploits of Hector the Turkish Knight stunned even Ellie into silence, and Hannah looked genuinely scared of his flashing scimitar. Predictably, the Young ("Let me through, I'm a nurse") Whippersnapper was (again) present to keep an eye on the Doctor's exploits and proffer first aid if it was needed. Luckily for all concerned, it wasn't, and the resurrectional work of the doctor was again successful.
New Year Celebrations
2001 was successfully punted into touch on the evening of 31 December by a goodly crowd of revellers. As the night wore on, the ale flowed, and trays full of sandwiches, sausage rolls and samosas were served and eaten. At midnight the customary tones of Big Ben were followed by the customary strains (literally) of "Auld Lang Syne", as we linked arms and shook hands and kissed each other. Well, Sizewell did.
It was a good night. A pity though that Mrs Thorogood - Mel - went down with flu during the evening. Get well soon.
New Year's Day
Hangovers are never very exciting are they? So there's not much to report really.
Except, that is, some news from my lunchtime correspondent which will warm the hearts of all of us dedicated to maintaining standards in this best of British inns.
Apparently quite a healthily-sized group of lunchtimers (doubtless clutching their orange juice and prairie oysters) had their heads rattled by a group of loud tourists from further up the village. This was the Cherry Tree Youth Club on its annual NYD excursion, with Joe (the landlord) besporting his kilt. Each to his own, says I.
The rest is...
... a few additional points of note.
Back into October and November 2001
I've decided to keep each addition to these pages separate, rather than simply add length. I hope regular readers will not get too confused.
For more recent news - December 2001 - Follow this link
and forward into 2002