Sacred Text

Before Christmas we wrote a post about The Ring, a London-based drinking society, based on an email from Sue Hart, one of its long-time members.

Dur­ing our cor­re­spon­dence she agreed to send us copies of some of the orig­i­nal Ring pub crawl sheets. What you see above is the old­est of the set from May 1967. In that orig­i­nal post Sue is quot­ed as say­ing of these crawls:

The ones put togeth­er by The Deputy took some under­stand­ing. He was a real whizz with num­bers and often his Ring sheets would con­tain lots of math­e­mat­i­cal rid­dles, or some­times ref­er­ences to foot­ball teams. He would also try and get a singing spot in the right sort of pub.

Actu­al­ly see­ing the text brings home exact­ly what she means. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of cryp­tic cross­word, puns, in-jokes and nick­names that makes bare­ly any sense in places.

We’re going to let the doc­u­ment speak for itself except for one quick obser­va­tion: Wot a Lot of Watney’s!

And a foot­note: Spurs did beat Chelsea, 2–1.

Tooled Up Froth Blowers, RALF and the Ring

Not the real RALF logo.
Not the real RALF logo…

When we wrote about the Ancient Order of Froth Blow­ers, we knew they were rel­a­tive­ly well known, but didn’t know they’d been immor­talised in ani­ma­tion. Our favourite dis­cov­ery, how­ev­er, has been that the AOFB was used as a cov­er by ‘Wild Geese’ mer­ce­nar­ies who turned up to sup­port a 1981 coup in the Sey­chelles wear­ing blaz­ers embroi­dered with the Order’s logo, and with their bags stuffed with guns.

That Froth Blow­ers post also led a chap called Bert to tip us off to the exis­tence of the mil­i­tant Real Ale Lib­er­a­tion Front (RALF), found­ed by pub land­lord and CAMRA mem­ber Nick Win­ning­ton in Wey­mouth in c.1977, with the aim of car­ry­ing out small acts of sab­o­tage against keg beer and the big brew­ers. There was more than one mem­ber, and there were some stick­ers, but that’s all we know. We’ve emailed Nick (with Bob Arnott’s help) and await more infor­ma­tion.

Final­ly, our new favourite book(s), Green and White’s Evening Stan­dard Guide to Lon­don Pubs (1973), gives us this:

Anoth­er orga­ni­za­tion con­cerned with pubs and beer is ‘the Ring.’ This is a loose­ly knit group of mature stu­dents of the pub scene. They meet once a month for a deter­mined pub crawl, oblig­ed to vis­it ten or eleven pre-select­ed pubs. Mason­ic rit­u­als pre­vail; you buy drinks in groups of three or four in strict rota­tion; and when the leader has fin­ished his half pint, he shouts ‘Ring out!’, at which you must drain your glass and leave the pub… Men are known col­lec­tive­ly as Hec­tor, and ladies – though not nor­mal­ly accept­ed – as Mor­ag.

Can any­one con­firm the exis­tence of the Ring? Or is this just it’s-a-mad-world jour­nal­is­tic bull­shit?