Tag Archives: beer

Super Saturday?

On Saturday 4 July, (the first day on which pubs in England reopened), the so-called “Super Saturday”, I went to my favourite local pub with friends. For anyone who isn’t aware, the pubs (along with restaurants and many other venues) closed in March, due to an order from the government, the instructions being designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On entering the pub, my friend and I had our temperatures taken by a young woman. Then, our temperatures being normal, we sanitised our hands with sanitiser. Following this “new normal”, my friend and I where conducted to a table, from where we ordered our drinks.

Anyone familiar with the British pub may well have visions of people standing or sitting around the bar, chatting, reading newspapers or swearing at the television when their favourite team misses a chance to score a goal! Sadly, under “the new normal”, this has been replaced by the rule that customers may not congregate at the bar, and must be served at a table which, following their departure will be sanitised by pub staff.

Whilst it was good to catch up with friends (another friend and his wife joined us later), I missed the mingling which is part and parcel of the traditional English pub. There was no more going up to the bar and exchanging banter with regulars, nor could one (officially at least) invite someone who was not part of the original party to join your table.

The young woman serving us (the same lady who had taken our temperatures) was wearing a mask. Whilst I can, of course understand her reasons for doing so (to protect against the possibility of contracting or passing on the virus), I couldn’t help thinking how she would cope on a baking hot summer’s day!

If you read the reports of “Super Saturday” you will, no doubt come across stories of “drunks not socially distancing”. All I can say is that neither my friends or I witnessed any such behaviour. Indeed the pub was rather quiet, perhaps owing to the fear of contracting the virus which does (I know through conversations with people) pray on the minds of some.

Whilst I was delighted to enjoy a few pints in the company of friends, I felt a sense of sadness at the sanitised atmosphere. We have, I fear lost something, I hope not permanently. We have lost the natural vibrancy of the traditional British watering hole. We have lost the stopping to chat to old acquaintences at the bar as we order our drinks. We have lost the ability (at least officially) to invite strangers to join us for a drink at our table. All this may be necessary, but it is still a loss and there is no getting away from that fact.


The English Pub

I have stood
In many an English pub
Drinking beer
Both indifferent, and sometimes good.
Its queer
How people with nothing in common mingle
And those who go in single
A couple become
(At least until the rise of sun
On the morrow
When sorrow
May come,
Or they say
“That was fun”
And go their way
Or perhaps they are forever
Drawn together
As birds of a feather,
(Well, at least
Until eternal peace
Breaks their heart apart).

I have stood
In many an English pub
And sometimes caused a fuss
When I did discuss
Political matter.
No friendship did I shatter
Though I have heard
Many a foolish word
And spoken more than one or two
Its true.

I have shared a glass
With a pretty lass
At the bar
And wondered how far
(Or near we all are
To paradise
Or vice),
And I have said “good night”
And thought on delight
That never was
Because she
Had no interest in me,
Or maybe
I missed the cue to dance
And my chance
To go far
Beyond the bar . . .

I love
The solid wood
Of the traditional pub
And the way in which people, for the most part
Get along. For at its best the pubs at the heart
Of the community.
A unity
In diversity, where you see
People of every class
Raise a glass,
And as they drink
Think, “this is our pub
For bad or good
And we will keep it this way. Things will change
But the pub will remain
For it is more
Than you or me.
It is tradition, tolerance and diversity.


In the flames of this fire,
Fanning my desire
For a past when the publican laid logs
In fireplaces
And drinker’s faces
Gathered around the blaze as their dogs
Lazed beside the eternal flame.

It is not the same
Since the pub changed hands. The beer
Remains unchanged, yet I fear
The flame does not burn as bright
Of a winter’s night
And the grate is too often cold.


The below poem was inspired by a comment overheard by me while enjoying a drink in a pub last weekend (Saturday 29 October).

“This beer tastes like lady’s knickers”, says an elderly man at a table.
Standing at the bar, I am scarcely able
To contain my laughter, and idly think
As I enjoy my drink
“what about a bra
And are
There knickers for the male kind?”

I find
In pubs much amusement
And bemusement.
“How would he know?”
Better not to go
There I think
As I sink
My drink.

“Lady’s Knickers” beer
Would taste most queer.
I shall be boring and stick to a well known brew
Although ‘tis true
I am curious to know.
But better not to go …

Finishing my second pint, I leave.
I perceive
This incident will stay with me.
I shall with glee
Write it down
Though it be
Nothing profound.

Pubs and Books


What could be more pleasant than a cooling pint on a hot summer’s day? A cooling pint and a good book.
I have been popping into the Westow House in Crystal Palace for some time now. They do an excellent Sunday roast and out of sheer politeness I feel obliged to have a pint or two while enjoying the convivial atmosphere of the pub!
I was unaware until Sunday 14 August that in addition to serving good food, the Westow House also hosts a small library. Having discovered this fact, I have donated a copy of my latest collection of poetry, “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” to the pub’s library. The Westow is a busy place so I like to think that from time to time a pub goer will take down my book and enjoy a quiet read.
For “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” please visit http://moyhill.com/lost/. For details of the Westow House please see http://westowhouse.com/.

Ealing Jazz Festival 2015

On Saturday 1 August I attended the Ealing Jazz Festival (http://www.ealingsummerfestivals.com/events/jazz-festival/). Although jazz is not, in truth my favourite cup of tea, the music made for pleasant background listening and, most importantly the festival afforded me the opportunity to catch up with close friends. The beer drunk while sitting on the grass was, of course purely incidental to proceedings …!

Being blind I have always enjoyed employing my sense of touch to explore objects. I was pleased therefore to come across a stall selling carved wooden objects. I was particularly taken with a wooden stool with elephant carvings and fleetingly considered purchasing it. However I live in Crystal Pallace/Upper Norwood and the thought of conveying this beautiful object on the tube followed by the train caused me to reject the idea. I love hand carved objects as the craftsman imparts some of their essence. One can see or, in my case touch objects from centuries past and forge a connection with those who have gone before. The craftsman has long since departed but their essence remains solidified in wood.

One of the stalls which had a strong effect on me and those of my friends who accompanied me to it was Love146 (https://love146.org/), a charity which works to highlight and challenge child trafficking. The information on the organisation’s website makes for harrowing reading, particularly that pertaining to the exploitation of young children in brothels.

All in all I enjoyed my trip to the Ealing Jazz Festival and fell in to bed after midnight tired but content.

The Last Hurrah

Thronging the doorway

“Excuse me please”. The throng parts letting me through. Sometimes a kind soul holds open the door allowing me to enter.

In all weathers the die hards stand puffing away. In summer the scent of cigarettes wafts through the pub’s open door bringing with it memories of yester year, a time when walls turned yellow with nicotine and I, a non smoker returned home, my clothes smelling of smoke, cursing the filthy weed.

The rain drives the hardy band ever closer to the pub’s sheltering doorway

“Excuse me, excuse me” I say attempting to retain my fixed smile as I try to enter or leave.

Some said the British would never stand for it, this intrusion into the rights of the individual to light up in public. But what about the liberty of the non smoker not to have his lungs clogged with poison? The latter argument won the day.

and so you stand. Not quite the last hurrah but something noble in your tenacity not to give up despite the pouring rain.

I sit enjoying a pint, thinking of the bedraggled smokers outside.

My Birthday

Tomorrow (6 January) is my birthday. I must admit to being 31 again …! It being difficult to meet up with friends during the week, we got together on Saturday evening in my favourite local, The Railway Bell, http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/11/11712/Railway_Bell/Crystal_Palace. The Bell is a lovely traditional pub with pictures of old trains on the wall, an aquarium full of tropical fish and an open fire which is wonderful on a cold winter’s evening. Despite the absence of a blazing log fire yesterday (I love it when my guide dog Trigger stretches out in front of it as there is something very homely about the sceene) my friends and I spent a convivial few hours in the Bell. Incidentally the reference to Sunday roast on The Beer In The Evening site is, sadly inaccurate as no roasts have been served in the pub for several years. The Bell does, however offer a selection of delicious rolls (freshly made, not pre-packed) to which I have often succumbed. I am particularly partial to ham and tomato on fresh bread.

Yesterday we all resisted the temptation of freshly made sandwitches, moving on to The Palace Spice for a delicious Indian meal and a bottle of house red,  http://www.palacespiceindian.co.uk/restaurantinformation.aspx?restaurant=1. The Spice is a regular haunt for my friends and I. Talking to my friend Brian we estimated that we spend (together with other guests we take there) over £1000 a year which is a testament to the quality of the food!

Tomorrow I will have a lazy day which will no doubt encompass a trip to the Bell at some juncture.