Sunday 21 May 2023
Sunday 31 July 2022
|(Image c/o John Penny)
Arthur was both the inspiration and primary knowledge source for this blog, particularly in the early days when my own enthusiasm for Pub Games was in no way matched by my knowledge or experience of the subject, one which Arthur had researched, written, and enthused about for decades.
So I missed the man on this occasion, but as it happens his visit had coincided with the recent publication of his new book, 'Played At The Pub - The Pub Games of Britain', a copy of which he kindly donated to the then licensees Kevin & Fiona Barby. This would be quite literally a game-changer for me.
Up until this point I'd been dabbling with a short-lived blog journalling my experiences of playing Northants Skittles in the pubs and clubs of the area. Not one of my greatest work it's true, but I was already considering expanding it in an attempt to document all of the old Skittles Tables and their venues in the area. Arthurs book inspired me to go one step further and attempt to cover the much broader subject of traditional pub games in all their myriad forms, resulting in the near 10 year project documented on this blog.
Arthur would have first come to public prominence during his days as a lecturer in Manchester, taking occasional extra-curricular jobs as an Extra in Granada Television productions (3), one of which was a notable scene in Coronation Street, playing a diner in Wetherfield’s first Italian Restaurant in the early 60's. This connection would eventually lead to a lengthy career as producer and director for Granada, a career which took him all over the country, and indeed the globe, and offered ample opportunities to indulge his passion for Brass Bands, Pubs and of course Pub games.
1. In point of fact Arthur may well have chosen the Red Lion simply because a photo of its antique skittles table is used to illustrate the Northants game on a traditional games website, titled (incorrectly) as being at the Red Lion, Corby: Table Skittles, Devil Amongst the Tailors - Online Guide (tradgames.org.uk)
3. There's a very good interview with Arthur about his time at Granada here: Arthur Taylor – Granadaland
Friday 10 September 2021
Thursday 22 July 2021
So, what little remains of these historic gems is precious indeed, and well worth supporting with a visit and a pint or two. The beauty of Worcester is that all its rare pub survivors might conceivably be visited in a single day without too much trouble, and I'd have to say that they’re all well worth visiting. From Worcesters oldest pub, to a classic post-war estate boozer, all unique and attractive venues in their own very different ways. Having said that, it's perhaps worth mentioning that these are not mere tourist attractions, they are for the most part vibrant, sometimes busy locals pubs, in fact some might be regarded as being quite earthy in character, splendidly so in my view.
A classic urban all-day opener (10am Mon-Sat!) on the main road through St Johns, the only nearby competition coming from the Parish Church opposite now that the Bull Baiters micropub seems to have closed. Indeed the pub was originally established to serve parishioners as a Church House, the origin of many village pubs it seems. As much a social centre as beerhouse, though the predominantly local beers on offer are certainly worth sampling. The chat and banter in the bar is constant, sometimes loud, often rude, occasionally lewd, it's that kind of pub. A telly at the front of the bar seems to be reserved exclusively for horseracing, and whilst other sports do feature when requested, I wouldn't say the Bell is a particularly 'sporty' bar. If it's on it's on, if it's not, nobody seems particularly bothered, there's a lot of chat to catch up on.
Friday 9 July 2021
Sunday 27 June 2021
At the risk of employing a rather flimsy excuse as an introduction to this post, the game of Fives has been on my mind a little more than usual of late. My friend and fellow pub games enthusiast John Penny started it all off with a feature he wrote on the game earlier this year for Visitor Magazine. A much more in-depth and informative piece than I'll attempt here, and I urge you to follow the link and read it from page 20 for a better understanding of the game.
John is of course a Dorset man, as evidenced by his sometimes impenetrable Dorsetshire accent and a deep love of Dorset's national sport, Alley Skittles. John plies his skittling trade, with some success it must be said, at the famous Rose & Crown in Bradford Abbas, and more widely at away matches in Dorset and over the border in Somerset. So a rare pub gaming tradition almost unique to neighbouring Somerset was never going to escape Johns keen eye for long, even if it's now effectively an extinct tradition as far as the pub is concerned.
Saturday 19 June 2021
Kildare Lodge, has been on my to-do list for some time now, so I was delighted to finally pop in for a couple of pints this year.