Everything we wrote in September 2019: Belgium, scary pubs, The Vodi

With a ten-day holiday at the start, September got off to a slow start on the blogging front, and we only managed 12 posts in total.

Mind you, we did post on the Patre­on feed every day from Bel­gium, amount­ing to about 5,000 words in total. The first entry, writ­ten on arrival in Ostend, was on open access, too, if you fan­cy a taste.

When we got back to the UK, we dis­tilled all that lot into one long post cap­tur­ing our impres­sions of the coun­try, its cafes and its beer:

Two bar staff are danc­ing and mim­ing along to ‘Dolce Vita’ by Ryan Paris as they wash glass­es. A man with a shop­ping trol­ley, dressed head to toe in cus­tom embroi­dered den­im, lum­bers in and rais­es a hand at which, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, he is brought a small glass of water; he downs it, waves, and leaves. On the ter­race, two skin­ny boys in art­ful­ly tat­ty clothes eat a kilo of pis­ta­chios and sip at glass­es of Pils. A group of Eng­lish­men in real ale T‑shirts arrive: “Triples all round is it, lads? Aye, four triples, pal.”


Delight­ed to be back home, we head­ed straight to The Drap­ers Arms and pored over the lat­est edi­tion of Bris­tol CAM­RA’s mag­a­zine Pints West. We enjoyed it so much that we decid­ed to give it a shout out on the blog:

In gen­er­al, there’s an open­ness about it that shows CAMRA at its best. All brew­eries are cov­ered with enthu­si­asm and hon­esty, regard­less of their par­tic­u­lar cask-ale cre­den­tials. Licensed premis­es of all kinds get a look in and there are heart­en­ing tales of local activism to save appar­ent­ly doomed pubs.


John Braine’s 1959 nov­el The Vodi has some­thing in com­mon with many oth­er British books from this peri­od: it reeks of beer and pubs. We high­light­ed some of the most inter­est­ing bits, like this:

[He] didn’t like the Lord Rel­ton very much. It was a fake-Tudor road-house with a huge car park; even its name was rather phoney, an attempt to iden­ti­fy it with the vil­lage of Rel­ton to which, geo­graph­i­cal­ly at least, it belonged. But, unlike the Fru­men­ty, unlike even the Ten Dancers or the Blue Lion at Sil­bridge, the Lord Rel­ton belonged nowhere; it would have been just as much at home in any oth­er place in Eng­land.


A raven in deep shadow.

From nov­els, we moved on to films, specif­i­cal­ly the inven­tion of a par­tic­u­lar myth of the Eng­lish pub cre­at­ed in Hol­ly­wood in the 1930s and 40s:

Con­sid­er 1943’s Sher­lock Holmes Faces Death, one of the bet­ter entries in the run of Sher­lock Holmes films star­ring Basil Rath­bone and Nigel Bruce, which gives us The Rat & Raven… The film is set in Northum­bria, not that you’d know that from the cast of assort­ed Brits, Antipodeans, Irish­men and Amer­i­cans, all speak­ing stage cock­ney or Transat­lantic Eng­lish… The pub, which appears 35 min­utes in, is locat­ed in the coun­try town of Hurl­stone – instant­ly recog­nis­able to stu­dents of hor­ror film as the stand­ing ‘Euro­pean vil­lage’ set at Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios, built c.1920 and reused end­less­ly to stand in for every­where from the West­ern Front to Wales to the fic­tion­al ‘Vis­aria’ where Frankenstein’s mon­ster ram­paged in his lat­er post-Karloff career.


We approached the end of the month with a cou­ple of relat­ed items:

  1. It can real­ly dif­fi­cult to leave a pub when you’re hav­ing a good time
  2. …but some­times pubs make the choice for you and aren’t always polite about it.

Then, way back in the mists of, uh, this morn­ing, we flagged a sto­ry from 1966 about a piece of pop-Freudi­an analy­sis of British drinkers and their atti­tude to beer.


We also put togeth­er our usu­al round-ups of news, nuggets and lon­greads:


There was also a 1,000+ words newslet­ter (sign up!), a hand­ful of oth­er bits and pieces on Patre­on and lots of Tweets, like this:

Next month: cider, appar­ent­ly. More about that lat­er in the week.

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