For many happy years I was a regular at The Brickies until problems with my balance, brought on by a lifetime of heroic boozing, made it difficult to stand for long, and I don’t like sitting down in pubs. The smoking ban didn’t help either, and the last straw was me becoming tee-total in July 2009. (That followed a six weeks attempt six months earlier, recorded in:On the perils of giving up drinking…)
Nowadays our visits to the pub are infrequent, but I hope the following, most of which I wrote in 2003, will give you some idea of the pub and the fun I’ve had there.
Part 1: Generic stuff
If you’re not a regular at your local, you probably think that the function of a pub is to supply its customers with booze to be consumed on the premises in convivial company.This is a widely held fallacy.
As far as male regular drinkers are concerned, the pub acts as:
(a) Bank (with full counter service, except that the deposit slips are made of glass and full of beer)
(b) Psychiatric clinic – if you’re laden with (say) problems at work, the last thing in the world you need is a sympathetic ear. Far better for the other regulars, and the staff, to take the p*** out of you
(c) Local news centre – you’ll learn far more than you’d get from your local newspaper, without all the irritating ads
(d) Information exchange on trades and services – the pub’s about the only place you’ll find out the name of a good plumber
(e) Greengrocer – someone’s always got a surplus of marrows or tomatoes that they can’t bear to throw on the compost heap
(f) Historical Reference facility – e.g. who sang “Mule Train” on TV, whilst bashing his head with a tin tray? (We tried to get that one for two years after Bob Armani mentioned it, before finding it was Tremont ‘Bob’ Blackman – you can watch him performing it on The Tommy Cooper Show by clicking here). NB. Facts under 40 years old are likely to be outside the compass of our combined memory banks
(g) Aches and pains mutual support group
(h) Bar staff training centre (advanced level)
(i) Recycling facility – particularly for old jokes
(j) Finishing School – specialising in Pub Etiquette
(k) Language School – where else could you end up the evening talking in Swahili with people understanding you?
Of course, alcohol does form part of the proceedings, indeed it’s compulsory, but I think you get the picture. Now to the specifics….
Part 2: The Brickmakers
The Brickies is my local, and I bought my cottage because it was within a mile radius of it. Formerly known as The Brickmakers Arms, it’s on the Chertsey road in Windlesham, Surrey, about 28 miles southwest of London. You can find it under Links.
It’s changed hands a few times, but is still a super place. I was only an occasional drinker in Bill and Doreen’s day, but became one, through the introduction of my then neighbour, David Burton, soon after Gerry Price took it over.
Gerry quickly stamped his personality on the pub, and managed successfully to develop the restaurant business without sacrificing the “performing seals” (i.e. regular drinkers) side of the operation. (A restaurant customer once told Gerry “what you have here, young man, is an inn”, and he’s called his present place “The Inn @ West End”.)
Before Gerry eventually sold it, we’d managed to stage three pantomimes (the first one was an anti-federal Europe version of Cinderella), and had started the annual Jazz Day, on the first Sunday in September, which continues to this day . In addition, an underground news bulletin, Oh Hell Magazine, was launched, unknown – at least initially – to the landlord. Sadly, only one edition was published before it was banned due to veiled threats of stopping serving after hours.
The Old Monk plc, headed by Gerry Martin – younger brother of Tim Martin of Weatherspoons fame – then owned it briefly, and extended it, before selling it to its present owners, 4C Inns. (See Links) The “4C” stands for the four members of the Coveney family, Laurence, Scott, and their parents, Shirley and Gerry. They’re nice, generous people, and if any of them is reading this, mine’s a pint.
[They subsequently did and I drank it.]
Well then, that just leaves the most important ingredient – the regulars. I’m not going to go through a whole list, complete with characteristics, in case someone does the same to me one day, but I think you’ll get a good idea from Part 1 above, and from the pub sayings in Part 3.
Part 3: Pub Sayings/Bon Mots
(mostly coined by Kevin Adams and Malcolm Collisson.)
* “I worship the ground she’s going under.”
* “I’ve got friends I haven’t even used yet.”
* “We moved from a bungalow to a house, but that’s another storey.”
* “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking serious money.” (okay, who said they were all going to be original?)
* “I’ll never forget whats’isname.”
* “First today.” (at regular intervals throughout the evening)
* “I think I might start using this place.”
* “The German sense of humour is no laughing matter.”
* “She’s a lot better looking than you said.” (On first meeting wife/girlfriend of a fellow regular.)
* “What’s the point of having three million quid when you’ve got a bad heart?” (Chat up line that we should have used forty years ago.)
* “Oh, go on then, just a half.” (When well into travelling time.)
* “The meek shall inherit the earth, if it’s all right with you.”
* “The drinks are on me.” (Kevin’s announcement after someone who shall remain nameless had spilled red wine over his trousers – it was a knee-jerk reaction).
Okay, that’s probably more than enough. By now, you probably know so much of what goes on down the pub, that if you pop in early one evening, it’ll seem like Ground Hog Day. Or maybe we’ll have introduced some new material……..?