A note from Ort (more below) prompted a return to my exploration of real ales. I haven’t been to a new pub since before the Netherlands trip and was due to leave for Germany on the weekend so slipped away early hitching a ride as far as South Cerney with a colleague that was driving to Cheltenham. Also a bit slack on the running lately, I did a couple miles before the rain returned by heading down this track called the Bow Wow…this village was probably going to be perfect in these circumstances!
The Old George was also perfect, with an outer appearance reminiscent of a BBQ place I used to hit out near Toccoa, Georgia and named after one of England’s German monarchs (although not the same one that lent his name to mine and Ort’s beloved home State). Inside, it was another world, though, with everyone glued to the opening of Royal Ascot, mocking the Queen and the spectators (“oooo, she’s wearing the same colour as Her Majesty, how embarrassing,” offered one builder whilst hauling his table’s next round), and all of it in this beautifully low-ceilinged and ancient interior. I had a Cotswold Spring Codger, in honour of this trip’s muse–not especially sweet but with a fullness that suggested some heavy dosing (the beer and the man).
Ort: I’ve crossed paths with this odd fellow many times in the last 30-plus years, since my earliest trips to Athens in search of trips and checking out what was then an emerging music scene. When we moved there to attend the University, I got stuck in line behind Ort for twenty minutes as he negotiated, individually, cashing a bag full of cheques none of which was for mor than $2.00: “Oh, yes, and then there is this one for one dollar and thirty-seven cents that I think you’ll find is drawn on THIS bank. Here, I have sixty-three cents so you can proffer me two ones.”
Easily 10% of my vast collection of LPs and various surreal but useful household goods came from a shop near the 40 Watt that I often browsed on my way to the Manhattan. Ort, who didn’t so much work there as attend the proceedings would smile and frown simultaneously at any new entrant and then eventually interfere with the planned shopping experience. One afternoon, while smoking pot, eating burritos and necking a bottle of Evan Williams with this crippled local character in the car park of the Gaines School Kroger, I posited my theory that Ort was insane; “Aww, that’s not right,” he replied, noticeably hurt at this attack on his friend, “Ort’s a sweetie.”
“I’m not questioning his good intentions. I just mean he’s mad.”
After a short pause, he said, “yes…yes, you might be right. But, he’s a sweetie.”