The Stour Valley needs its railway back News from the Angel: Long awaited New Year edition ... er, ... actually, it's February 1, ... sorryThe Stour Valley needs its railway back

A sudden, totally expected, but nevertheless disruptive, fall of snow has given me the chance to update these pages, when it looked as though the unrealistic pressures of a school calendar might mean that December 2002 was the last ever edition!
As I type, about 5 inches of snow glisten in the sharp frost of a beautifully sunny morning. No post or papers so far this morning, but somehow, as always, the milkman got through. Thanks Tony.

It is inevitable after such a long gap that many of these ramblings will be just that, and completely out of order chronologically.

It must be remembered that 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.

and New Year

Last things first

They all seem a very long time ago, now, but Christmas 2002 and the New Year celebrations were typical Angel occasions.
Just before the Big One, Kevin arranged for Tom Robinson to make a much appreciated return visit. If anything, the early part of the evening saw the pub even more crowded than before, so much so that some of us regulars had to bow to a few blow-ins(who occupied the main bar and didn't, to be honest pay, much attention to the music) and sit up in the Eyrie.
But never mind, Tom and Simon were as good as ever, and "Downtown Train" and "Time" and "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Little Bird" still rank with th every best you'll hear in pub or club.
Being the week before Christmas, it was inevitable that the evening would be interrupted by the arrival of Glemsford's own answer to a Booze Cruise, the Youth Club on tour. Luckily, they drank their halves of Shandy and Bacardi Breezers (to a chorus of "It doesn't taste the same in a glass" - see earlier references to the House Rule of not selling drinks to be consumed from the bottle) and headed back to the Cock, presumably to collect their Child Allowances.
After that, an excellent evening was enjoyed.

Christmas Eve was another jolly occasion, treated with all due reverence and restraint, a packed bar humming gently in true Angel fashion: no excesses, just good company, fine ale and a sense of contentment.
So too New Year's Eve.
A little more upbeat, a little more frivolity, particularly later on, as the spirit measure went unaccountably missing. Plentiful nibbles were available. The beer did not run out. "Auld Lang Syne" was (sort of) rendered. And there was no need for one of those house rules that barred the door later on to keep out trouble makers, or for an over-priced ticket to let us in to our favourite local. Mind you, we had a brief return visit from the Youth Club, membership of which seems to be confined to those who only need to shave once a fortnight (less often if they're male), to those whose mastery of the English language rests entirely on the use of the "f" word in every conceivable grammatical function, and whose drinking prowess is measured in the number of different flavoured KiddyPops they can get through in the shortest possible time. Sad people.
But what the hell, it was a good evening, night and early morning. No-one disgraced themself; everyone smiled, and the New Year arrived.

January 2003

Post - Christmas Blues

This year, these have been largely avoided.
The Old Place seems to be blooming, with healthy congregations most nights and, as far as I'm told, most lunchtimes and evenings as well.
As regulars, it is sometimes difficult to notice changes happening, but I don't think we've yet missed the next alterations to the bar area - the rounding of the corner and the widening of the narrow - but we're assured they will be happening.
The array of poor-taste humour in the Gents has finally changed. Doubtless, some wag has accessed a different page on the Internet. How we laugh!
Talking (rather indelicately) of the Gents, one phenomenon has gone largely unremarked. That is, the middle urinal.
Now: the Angel normally has three, and, over the years, they have worked with a varying degree of efficiency. Dave Taylor could, on occasions, be seen wielding a big wrench over one of the traps (no inappropriate comment, please) when flooding was imminent, and her Mo-ship was not averse to pouring gallons of Caustic Soda down an offending or recalcitrant drain (but only when the loos were empty, of course). Even the delicate Mr Thorogood was, on occasions, heard to mutter something about getting a plumber in, only then having to take a sit down at the thought of all that expense.
Anyway, just before Christmas, Kevin hit a snag which required some professional advice in the form of a neat bit of sign-writing on a bar snack order form to the effect that this urinal is "Out of Order". And so, over a month later, it remains.
We are not sure if it really is broken - we're far too polite to ask, and far, far too polite to use it whatever - but we suspect it may be a ruse to prevent too many people using the loos at once. It may even be connected to the new licensing laws which are proposing to ban entertainment on the basis of more than "2 In A Bar". Whichever it is, we think we should be told.

Nothing like a Good Romance #2

An even better cure for the Dark Days has been the public planning of the Wedding of the Year.
Jonathan and TA have been to see the vicar, and he says it's ok, so they're going ahead in March.
Lists have been prepared, invites distributed, Best Man appointed and, of course, dresses and suits ordered.
At one point, Jonathan had toyed with the idea of wearing full Farrance Tartan for the occasion, but once he realised this would mean that he and Sippo would not be able to wear Top Hats, he soon changed his mind, and went for more traditionally Suffolk attire.
Some of the details are being kept secret, but we understand he's already booked a session in Sketchleys to have his Levis pressed for the big day, Pam's had his Parka in the wash and he was busy looking through a Nike catalogue the other day - and not at the cheap end, either! Should look good with the toppers, that lot.
As for cars, he's promised TA that the Escort Van will be polished outside and in, and his tool box will be hidden under the passenger seat specially for the occasion.
TA smiles her way through it all, so far.

One aspect of the preparations has been a noticeable curtailing of entertainment-style activities. No more excursions to Alton Towers (Closed) or even Bournemouth or Barbados. Although they did venture out to a Posh Place in Great Tey, where Jonathan experimented with a Chilli Sauce Cocktail, even Easterns has not been visited of late. As a sign of gathering maturity, not to say responsibility, evenings have been limited to exciting games of "Shut the Box", a game too devilish to describe in detail here. It is a quiet, reflective game, calling for tactics and mental dexterity. Need I say more?

Floods of Tears

Just as January 2003 has finished with a little taste of what winter should be like, we should not forget that the major climatic feature of the month has been the amount of rain that has fallen.
The Lifeboat was nearly called out on a number of occasions, when rising waters threatened to inundate routes out of and into the village. Cavendish was inaccessible on a couple of occasions, as was Melford, and the Sudbury Water Meadows proved their full value. My, how we look forward to the time when they are allowed to build houses and a by-pass across the area which, a couple of weeks ago, was totally under water.
The big emergency, however,was down to Kevin, who thought it would be a Good Idea if he went and did a bit of sight-seeing in his fine old Cavalier.
"Look, Darcy, look. See how the waves go splish splash over my shoes!"
Problem: said shoes are inside said Cavalier.
Further problem: petrol engines and water do not mix, on the inside at least. Result? Cavalier No Go.
Further Result? Ultimate proof that 2 per pint is an excessive amount to pay for even the best beer - brand new second-hand silver estate-type vehicle parked out in the yard.
Vroom bloody vroom.

Team News: Cribbage

OK. We always knew it was too good to last. Since my last notes, the winning streak came to a shuddering halt, with defeats by the Perseverance (5-10), the British Legion (5-10), The Cock (5-10) and the Clare Swan (6-9), and a meagre victory (9-6) over the Melford Swan.
There may be a single snowdrop of promise in the most recent game, however.
Playing against the Pub-Formerly-Known-As-The Glemsford-Cherry-Tree, The Stump and Skip, our gallant team scored a surprise 9-6 win.
We'll see.

Team News: Quiz

The Quiz team finds itself in need of oxygen, poised as it is at the top of the table after convincing wins against most of our major rivals.
We finished before Christmas with a healthy win over the Black Lion (51-40), only to lose the return match by one point (58-57). Most of the games have been similarly high-scoring, and it has been a real bonus to be able to rotate the squad.
Alright, it doesn't always work for Gerard Houllier, but it's horses for courses, ain't that right Brian? Results can be found HERE, including the 60 (sixty) points scored against the Horse and Groom.

Team News: Darts

Angel Darters Win A Game ... Lucky 13 (for some) ... Scoop .... Shock ... Angel Darters Win A Game ...

Yes: it's true.
On January 13, the Angel D'Arts Team, inspiringly led by Kevin L'Estrange, ground out a gritty victory against those doyens of the local darts universe, the Black Horse.
Stunned into expressions of incredulity, all Kevin could say was "I'm so stunned I don't believe it. I'll have a pint."
Who am I to disagree?

Other News

I'm sure people will be reminding me constantly of matters I should have written about, but have forgotten.
Old Salty's contract with the Swiss Navy has ended, so he's back in this neck of the woods again - he claims to be working in insurance, but we suspect this may be a front for a defence procurement exercise. Welcome back, Old Salty. The Crib team looks stronger already.

I referred earlier in this edition to "changes", and the inability to spot them when you meet them all the time. I suppose, looking back, there has been a gradual change of clientele over the last 6 months or so, mainly in the form of newcomers, with a few old faces being seen less often.
On the fleeting visit front, it was good to see Phil Housego fresh in from Chelmsford with all the reponsibilty of a job in Docklands and impending fatherhood.
That other temporary Chelmsfordian, the Not-so-young Whippersnapper has been about, too. Over the christmas period, his sister Kate made a return visit from Snalbans, as well as an entry on the guest book.

Pauline and Patrick are frequent regulars now, despite their residence in the Posh Part of the village. Patrick has acquired the justly-deserved nickname "Porous" on account of his ability to absorb vast quantities of IPA without blinking, swaying or deviating.

Eric from the Chapel is giving up smoking (if his employers are reading this). If they're not, he's supposed to be but is finding it difficult.

The various Foreign Excursions by thoose seeking to escape the rigours of Glemsford in January seem to have been very successful.
Jules and Barry chose Egypt. Roger Nice Man Orton took his 73rd holiday of the last year to visit Australia and California (for the New Year), while Plumb Tours ended up (with Arthur and Stephen) watching the English cricket team win a test match. Now, really, for that excitement, they could have stayed and watched the Angel Darts Team ...

What else?

The Sunday Draw has reached treble figures again, attracting more members to risk their Sunday afternoons by being on the premises between 12 and 1 on a Sunday lunchtime to qualify as a winner.
Hector and Henry, the House Security team are becoming more friendly, allowing themselves to be stroked and fed when they are released into the bars late on.
Music (the recorded sort) used to be a major feature of these pages. You will have noticed it rarely features these days. I don't know what that suggests, except that, thankfully, conversation has resumed its predominant role in the life of a pub.

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.
To see earlier editions, follow thses links:

December 2002 - December at The Angel

September 2002 - Early Autumn in Glemsford

August 2002 - International Special Edition

July 2002 - Newcomer at the Sign of the Flower Fairy; Transatlantic Oddities; Peregrinations

June 2002 - The Flower Fairy, World Cup and the Jubilee

Kevin and Paula's Early Days at The Angel The Flower Fairy

The end of The Thorogood Era

Life under The Tyranny of Spaniels

The first part of 2002

News from Christmas 2001 and January 2002

News from - December 2001

Back into October and November 2001

Page maintained by Stephen Clarke, 09 November 2005 Copyright(c) . Created: 27/08/2002 Updated: 01/02/2003