The Stour Valley needs its railway back

Days are getting longer
The Angel in January and February, 2002

The Stour Valley needs its railway back

Further Tales from The Angel
- The Thorogood Era

Lest there be any lingering 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.

10 February

Sagging Fortunes: Crib AND Quiz Teams in Relegation Scrap

Or, that'll serve them right for mocking.

The New Year period is always a quietish time in the pub trade, so the story goes, but the Angel is an exception to most rules.

Regular readers and customers will be used to two sorts of news as far as The Angel's teams are concerned: firstly, the Crib Team normally lose, and secondly, the Quiz team normally win.In some ways, 2002 is seeming to turn that tradition on its head.

After an almost unblemished record before Christmas, having lost only to that posh bunch from Melford Swan, the team began the New Year with a win over the Sudbury Horse and Groom, and then lost four on the trot, if you'll excuse the expression. The last of these four was at home to the Waggon and Horses, by 20 points (possibly the largest defeat in the annals of Angel quizzing). Such ignominy. Omens, even, since the end of that game was greeted with flashes of lightning and crashing of thunder in character with the turbulent weather and fortune we are sharing at present.
Even a seven point victory over the Acton Crown on 10 February can do little to resurrect our chances of getting into Europe this summer. Ho hum.

Meanwhile, the Crib team is doing its best to rub salt into these self-inflicted wounds by winning the odd game. "Odd" is probably the right word. Victory over the Melford British Legion was accompanied by total success in the post-match raffle.
Still: two victories in one night has done nothing to lift them beyond bottom spot in the table.

A Free Lunch? Is There Such A Thing?

No Purchase Necessary

(You Must Be Kidding!)

Previous editions of this electronic organ have paid tribute to the entrepreneurial and business skills of our new "cheery chappy" behind the bar.
To prove that flattery will get you nowhere, I need to record here details of the latest effort to boost custom on the part of Mr Thorogood.
It goes something like this:

  • Mr T., in his generosity, puts 10 per week into a kitty to be drawn for each Sunday lunchtime;
  • The draw will take place any time between 12 noon and 1 p.m.;
  • To be part of the draw, give your name and phone number to the staff;
  • To win the draw, you have to be present at the time of the draw;
  • If you are not present, you will receive a mocking phone call;
  • The kitty then rolls over to the following week.
Ah, isn't that nice?

So far, I can only spot 2 flaws:

  1. The rules are designed to maximise the Sunday lunchtime numbers and not all of us can drag ourselves away from compulsory unpaid overtime and washing the car - what about a separate draw for us on the daily lateshift to be drawn at or about shut-tap one night a week? OK, I already know - what's shut-tap?
  2. Guess who was the first winner of a roll-over 30 jackpot? Bleeding Roy Porter, that's who. I mean ... donkeys and strawberries, or what?
In any case, rumour also has it that, allegedly, he went and spent his ill-gotten gains over in The Cock. But then, he added hurriedly, rumours are just that.

Diddly Diddly Again

Ever anxious to ring the changes in the form of pub entertainment, Mr T was pleased to welcome a return visit by that band of wandering purveyors of Irish music, the untitled diddly diddly ensemble.
They took over the eyrie for a midweek evening in January and delighted all who stood and listened. A band of individuals they are, and they do it for fun, so there's no value in singling out particular stars, but it was good to see Sarah Wright on hols from York Uni. joining in with mum and Ian.
In truth, this is high quality fun music, and well worth the listen.
Mr T normally provides sandwiches on such occasions, even if, on this one, the meat to veg. ratio was inappropriate for the dietary ethics of most of those present. Never mind - can't win 'em all.

More Global Cavorting

In between travelling Eastern England in pursuit of a living, drinking vats of Lilt and Diet Coke, and captaining the Crib team from one defeat to another (see above), that nice Mr (Roger) Orton seems to have developed a taste for the more exotic parts of the world.
So, while the rest of us were attempting to remain vertical while being buffeted by the January tempests, he was off lapping up lotuses and coconut milk across the mighty Indian Ocean, on Mauritius. A postcard was received, bemoaning the lack of beach bars, Big Macs and rugby (I jest), but otherwise he had a splendid time.
So I should hope.
And all this less than a year after flogging all the way round the world to follow the Lions in Australia.
It's a hard life.

Landlord Joins Recycling Craze

A Little Bit of History Passes

When I first started up the path of adult drinking, legally, in 1967, my chosen watering hole, the world famous Hand in Hand, at the Crooked Billet on Wimbledon Common, in the tenancy of Duncan Carruthers-Holland ("No we don't sell spirits, and, yes, we do close at 10.30 even on Fridays and Saturdays"), all the fine ales were served, straight from the barrel, in glasses like this:
What a fine example of the drinking art
Such pint pots are, in my opinion, totally superior to any other form.
The modern dimpled tankard is a useless, clumsy piece of tableware which is heavy to use and through which the first draw from a pint resembles having one's mouth taken over by assorted pieces of dental equipment.
Slightly preferable, I suppose, is the ubiquitous "straight", since it is much slimmer to the touch, but even that has a common touch, an element of laddism, an unnecessary coarseness, while its flange, designed to encourage the drinker's grip and the pouring of a head, is a pathetically poor piece of domestic design.

Yes, give me the straight-sided tankard any day.

"Where is this leading?" I hear you ask.

Bear with me for a few moments reflection.

When I first moved to Glemsford, I started drinking in the Cherry Tree.
I quickly grew up.
Then I moved my allegiance to the Black Lion, during Don and Mary's time.
It was while carousing there one evening that I spotted hanging behind the bar, for decorative purposes only, one of my favourite glasses. It was love at second sight, 15 years on.
Don was quite happy to let me resume my relationship: the glass was a classic of its sort: - date stamped 1952, with the weights and measures crest of His Late Majesty George VI - GR.

When Don and Mary left the pub and it was turned into every drinker's nightmare, the country eatery, I was allowed to liberate my glass before it became part of the inventory.

And so the glass translated itself to The Angel. At each successive change of tenant, it was whisked away in secret to await judgement on the new incumbent: would the glass be looked after and nurtured? Each time, from Lilley to Mo, from Mo to Jan 'n' Dave, and from Jan 'n' Dave to PT, the answer was "Yes", and the glass returned to its place behind the bar.
At one point, its origin was traced. Bryan Morgan claimed ownership, having left it, many moons ago at the Black Lion. He was kind enough to forego all rights of proprietorship, and even spirited up a partner for it, so that Marilyn had her own version.

Sadly, along the way, Marilyn's mug had a nasty collision with a barrel and was no more, to be replaced by a later 60s version, slightly chunkier but still superior in every respect to the alternatives (thanks Tim), but mine soldiered on.

Until January 2002, that is.

As near as damn it, 31st January must have been the glass's 50th anniversary when our well-repected new landlord went to pour me a pint, picked up M's glass by mistake, went to change it and, in a moment of cold, blind horror, cracked one glass against the other.

So ended 50 years of drinking history.

I am still in shock, even though a 1964 version has been quickly found (thanks Elaine).

If anyone out there knows where we can find more examples of a fine piece of vernacular architecture - for such this glass is - please let me know, so that I can build up a reserve against the predations of any other clumsy buggers.

Welcome Stranger

The Yanks were right, for once

Landlord tries innovative methods of serving warm beer

Mr Thorogood is to be commended - highly and without irony - for his attempts to foster better beer drinking habits among the Angel regulars, newcomers and blow-ins.

The guest and special beer programme has continued apace, so that it is already possible to publish a worthwhile catalogue of the brands which have been on offer:

  1. (was Morlands) "Old Speckled Hen"
  2. Greene King "Strong Suffolk"
  3. Draught "Bass"
  4. Theakston's "Old Peculier"
  5. Wychwood Brewery "Hobgoblin"
  6. George Gale's "H.S.B."
  7. Brains "S.A."
  8. Wadsworth 6X
  9. Bateman's "XXXB"
  10. Smile's "Heritage"

A worthier list would be hard to find: the last two, by the way, are on tap as I type.

In general, all have been very well received, sampled and consumed.

Unfortunately, there has been one minor hiccough.
As mentioned before, to serve these properly, PT brought in (at great expense, as he kept telling us) proper bar-mounted beer engines.
To draw the beer from the cellar required a fair amount of piping, so it was only to be expected that the beer at point-of-sale would not be quite as cool as the traditional Angel IPA.
However, samplers of the various ales could soon be heard commenting on the temperature of the new stuff. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was coming out at about the temperature which would just be safe to serve a young baby's milk (the bottled sort, before you rush to conclusions).

This would not do. This could harm the Angel's reputation. This could cost money - even though PT was trying to convince us that 2.20 was a bargain.
What to do?
As always, send for the experts. Now: if you've read earlier pages about "brewery experts" from Greene King, you would not expect a lot of wisdom from that quarter, but, for once we'd be wrong. They came up trumps.

Here's what they found.

  • When PT had the engines fitted, he had been cautious enough about temperature to have a cooler unit specially fitted to the new lines.
  • When the experts examined this, they said "'Ere Peter," (for thus they talk), "'ere Peter, 'ave a look at this."
  • And, oh the surprise: not only was the cooler unit second hand, no ...
  • ... and not only was it not working properly...
  • ... it was doing exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to do.
  • In short, it was heating the beer.
End of problem ... we hope.

Culture Can Be Entertaining

Saturday 2 February, 2002, was the occasion of another example of the unique status of The Angel in Glemsford's, nay Suffolk's, nay Britain's cultural calendar.

We had another Poems and Pints evening.

From 8.30 to shut-tap (whenever that was) a goodly crowd of regulars and guests (several, very welcome, from Melford) entertained each other with readings of favourite poems.

The range was vast. There were a lot of humorous offerings; there were many serious; there were old and there were totally new, self-penned verses.
The evening was a total success. It just goes to prove that loud music, line dancing and karaoke are not the only ways that thinking people can entertain themselves in a 21st century pub.
Although it was not intended as a competitive occasion, PT did award special prizes for the best renditions (and in a moment of self-sacrifice, did not award himself one for his Kipling).
The recipients were Sharon Porter for her "Susanna's Revenge" which, allegedly, is dedicated to her father-in-law, and to Vera Burrell (from Melford) for, amongst others, her rendition of "The Ruined Maid" by Thomas Hardy.

I will publish fuller details on a separate page, but the Porter Ode appears below, beneath the credits.
After all it's only a bit of fun, isn't it Roy?

Following the success of this evening, we hope to repeat the occasion later in the year.

Meanwhile ...

The Next Big Event

is on February 16 with

The much-demanded return of the Tom Robinson band.

The rest is...

... silence in the eyrie.

We have grown used to the subtle changes wrought by the new management:

  • the green paint
  • the dogs scrounging their crisps
  • the humour
  • the new bar staff, some imported from South Africa, some from Melford, and Jules from next door
  • the loss of exotic bar snacks like Sesame Nut Crunch
  • variable taste in music
  • the fireplace
  • and so on
but it was with amazement that we greeted the loss of yet another Angel institution.
The Fruit Machine is no more.
Could this be a right-thinking move to withhold temptation from the eyes of those otherwise doomed to the rocky path down to huge gambling debts?
Could it hell. It wasn't making enough money. So with Thatcherite-Monetarist brutality, it has been sent packing. Good riddance say some. Good lord, say others. I suppose we could always join the Sunday draw instead.

News from Christmas 2001 and January 2002

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

Up to Easter 2002


This story's about a real Glemsford chap,
Who sits in this pub and talks lots...and lots.
His face has appeared on the Morris Mens net,
But, I bet Mr Clarke's not heard this tale yet.

Now it's not my intention his name for to mention,
To embarrass or cause him remorse.
But I'm sure that you may have oft heard him say,
"Can I flog you a good rocking-horse?"

Well we all know how he continually rabbits,
But he's lately developed some very strange habits.
'Twas just before Christmas, with the days long and dark,
When his youngest daughter an order did bark.

"Get all of your clothes off." - "Yes even your draws!"
"I've done lots of washing, but I've seen none of yours"
A reasonable request since he'd worn them a week,
So off came his garb with a bit of a tweak.

So he did as was told, donned his bathrobe instead,
To await till clean dress was laid out on his bed.
A jumper, some socks and a pair of clean slacks,
He thought, "That's not right - there's something it lacks.

So he goes down the stairs and pours out a drink,
Sits down, brain engages, has a bit of a think.
"What is it that goes between trousers and bits."
"I know'. - She's forgotten to put out my knicks."

He takes from the cupboard some thing white and soft,
Puts in his feet, pulls the garment aloft.
Several days later though he' d had a good twiddle,
Was no sign of a hole, thru' which he could widdle!

Reality dawned and he said to his daughter,
"I've something to tell you, - I think p'rhaps I oughta.
This week I've been wearing some rare lovely draws,
But have to admit that they' re probably yours.

They' re soft and comfy where they hang neath my tum,
But there's not really room for my grut big old bum."
With a loud cry of anguish she said, "I declare!
You silly old bugger, that's my very best pair'."

He said, " They're nice draws, gel, I'll wear them agin!"
"Like hell you will" she said, " They' re off to the bin."
So keep your eyes peeled folks, cos it won't be long,
'fore he's off down the road in suspenders and thong.

So suffice it to say we don't think he's gay,
And despite all, he's well thought of still
So don't make a fuss, there's no need to tell us,
We know that we're now not in your Will

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