Archive for the ‘books’ Category
With a wee run and a beer
And Asian pulled pork.
Name: Topaz IPA
Venue: Carter’s Rest, Wroughton.
Review/notes: Great little run today (19.67 miles). Hit a hash in Chiseldon and then headed toward the Ogbournes before turning up the Ridgeway where I spotted a weird memorial to Alfred Williams (a workingman poet) isolated on a hill. Thinking I had run farther I stopped at the Carter’s Rest which, as usual, had a challenging roster of beers and ciders to choose from. The Topaz was like the thinner in shoe polish which is to say: quite good.
[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]
Monthly consolidations/compilations: January
Jackie had a library meeting at a remote branch so I wandered the stacks. It is reaffirming to find that someone shares my philosophy of being more of an ass:
When the youths from the Marlborough College are packed on the bus and you are trying pass through the aisle with a flimsy shopping sack full of wine, vodka, and tonic you might have a sudden epiphany about the origin of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies whilst popping one of these privileged shits in the chest with an off-balance and accidental (we’ll go with that) elbow and dragging the bottle filled bag at skull level past three others until the rest duck-and-cover. Earlier, on my way to the Queen’s Head, I passed Golding’s former digs next to the Church, so maybe that’s what brought on these literary thoughts….
The contrast between the gaggle of students and the friendly–if a bit surreal–patrons of the Queen’s Head was striking. As a stranger negotiating the several small rooms to reach the back side of the public bar took a moment; it is a fairly old house but I am reckoning Edwardian or late Victorian despite the sturdy and ancient looking beams.; I’m sure the landlord will correct me as he seems as much an authority on any topic as he is authoritative and benignly autocratic…or the guy I’m assuming was the gov may have just been another punter.
I gave the pump clips a squint and decided on a Directors which made the three younger men at the bar burst into laughter as if they had been sitting on this merriment for minutes and could no longer hold it in. “What’s that then?” the one next to Maybe-The-Gaffer asked. “Courage,” he answered. “It’s a good strong ale.” They all laughed again. “Courage? What’s that?” “It’s a brewery.” “There is a Courage Brewery down near my house. But, what’s that?” Another ejaculation of laughter…I concluded these boys were tripping and sat back for what turned into an Abbott and Costello (or maybe more like Abbott and the Three Stooges) bit.
Horse racing features in the room to the left with some great photos of jockeys being dismounted mid jump, and boxing is highlighted to the right but the room seems more a shrine to the career of Muhammed Ali.
This is my new favourite pub in Marlborough (although the Bear and the Dragon are a little easier to get to on a tourist trip).
While not a big fan of comic books*, I have really enjoyed the TV version of The Walking Dead although most of the pleasure comes from its setting (and location shooting) in the hinterlands where I spent the bulk of my youth between Griffin, Newnan, and Atlanta, Georgia. I can assure you that there have always been savage, unthinking monsters threatening the safety of the general public there and the depictions are as much horror show as they are like a family reunion. Very pleasant except for the occasional moments of terror.
So, the publication of Black Charity, a “graphic novel” [comic book] set in Swindon (my new home town) is greeted with some measure of excitement. I haven’t read it, but probably shall do. Thumbing through to find the drawings of dungeon scenes at the dominatrix’ flat some local landmarks featured in this blog have sprung to light including my local just down the Western Street hill, the Beehive, and another pub over in Wanborough, the Harrow.
Black Charity by Bal Speer, an art lecturer at the local college, is available at your local book store (don’t give those fuckers at Amazon any money).
*As a kid, I tried to read comics but couldn’t really buy the story lines and generally stuck with the satirical periodicals. Mad Magazine got me through my early years although I had to have most of the superhero references explained to me. As I grew, I moved on to National Lampoon and then, in my teens made the leap to adult satire by reading the New York Times. Now I get most of my news and humour from the fortnightly delivery of Private Eye.
The typical Inspector Morse fan you run into in Oxford is a middle-age woman from the States visiting here outside the high season for tourists and who has a grounding both in the Morse books and the television series (which is imported for regular airings on Public Broadcasting back in the US although I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an episode myself). I’ve shot a lot of photos for these women with the bartenders (using their cameras) while they pose in front of some Morse or Lewis memorabilia. The bar in the Randolph, a Grand Hotel worthy of the name, is named after Morse in honour of how frequently it has featured in these works.
None of that has anything to do with why I wanted to visit this on the pub journey nor why I have waited so long for a beverage and quiet contemplation in this magnificent house. Jackie has been wanting to come here for the atmosphere as well, and we have never both been appropriately dressed for the visit when we both happen to be in the city (my job in the labs dictates ratty clothing, usually, and my hobby is running…mea culpa).
So, on a day when I’m taking a break from running and had a meeting that kept me out of harsh chemicals and mechanical oils I opted to pop in on the way home to read a newspaper, dent the leather upholstery, and generally enjoy a civilised pint. However, if you go for a beverage keep in mind the pint will set you back £4.95 (and the spirits start at £10.40 a shot, mixers extra).
Oh, this means that The Morse Bar is no longer eligible to be the 1000th pub. I’ll make the appropriate change to that post shortly.
It is always a dodgy thing for a work colleague to loan you a book, especially one nearly as obsessive about its subject as the fell running zealots in this one. For the loaner, there is always the possibility the intended loses all respect for you (although there is little chance of that–I stand in near awe of this fellow); for the loanee, you have an obligation to give it at least a token read-through. This book, Feet in the Clouds by Robert Askwith, isn’t written especially well, but the guy is a journalist first and foremost and has chosen a compelling subject filled with characters interesting on their own merits. The tales of obsession with the sport are instantly recognisable to those of us who dabble in distance and hills and especially those of us that have some serious wilderness trail runners amongst our drinking buddies.
It becomes obvious along the way that Askwith wanted to write about the attempts he made at completing the Bob Graham Round, this 72 mile/42 peak circuit of the Lake District that must be completed in 24 hours. Others have attempted this monumental and futile task (writing about Bob Graham Round experiences, that is) and failed so it was well and good that he expanded the scope to cover the history of the sport and the personalities and politics involved in its obscure modern incarnation(s).
At the end of a few months of more-or-less serious training runs, I am ready to get out for some unplanned countryside trots. This read makes that near-future of truly pleasure runs become crystalline for me. It taunts me like a red rag to a bull, and I see bits of the ridgeway and some Cotswold hillsides before me, casting those come-hither glances from between the lines of every page. Give it a read if you can find a copy.