Ah ! Ain’t he lovely ? Don’t answer that.
A great week ended with a chance meeting with the legend that is Si of BRAPA fame in the Newmarket hinterlands*.
Some people idolise cans of Cloudwater.
I’m rather partial to the sheer poetry of BRAPA posts, like this from his latest.
“The Plough continued to be as dead as dead can be. It was a bit like having a seat ticket for a Mumford & Sons concert, and then realising you’re sat next to Ray Wilkins, who offers you a breadstick. With no dip.”
Like Dickens, he’ll be revered long after a horrific accident outside a Kent micro pub dulls his powers.
What a massive privilege it was for me to drop everything and escort the great man around the pubs of outer Cambridgeshire last Saturday in my high-spec motor.
I must have been as excited as a small boy unwrapping a bundle of Steve Earl football programmes at Christmas, as I managed to direct Si to a pre-emptive tick on Newmarket High Street that had been boarded up since City last won a game (in 2014, it seems like). Then full steam ahead and back a century to Ashley in the heart of horse racing pashmina land.
With 20 minutes to kill (no 10am openers in Cambs) I reviewed his strategy for conquering Cambs, failing to tell him that half the details on WhatPub were wrong. And I’m supposed to be a Cambridgeshire expert.
At bang on noon Si burst into action. He seemed surprised I wasn’t going with him. He should have read my report on the Crown. A solid local, but a scary number of dogs. They were all back today.
I spent the next 27.5 minutes walking the bounds, praying for Si’s safe deliverance and assessing future micro pub sites.
I think Simon had the more exciting half-hour, though you’ll see in his report that was down more to dangerous drivers than exciting chatty locals.
I was more confident about his next tick, a classic rural Suffolk pub in Exning.
With some classic Suffolk parking.
For a moment I considered heading off to Mr Chips, or whatever it’s called, leaving Si to concentrate on his note-taking again.
But one look through the windows into the bustle of pubby humanity and I crumbled.
Though mainly I was joining Si in the pub, just in case they had Bass on.
They didn’t, but London Pride will do. As Simon so humorously notes, “it was drinking well“.
Now I know I just said the Crown was virtually a kennel, but ain’t this one cute…
Simon was quite taken with the pub, despite being confined to a high table by the hordes. It clearly wasn’t the thrilling Merseyside derby on the telly drawing them in, just the lure of a top quality village pub being a pub.
I can just sit in a pub like that and soak in the atmosphere; BRAPA has to have an argument, and so it was that “Pub menu theft man” gave Si his moment of contention.
Loads of stuff to treasure.
What happened after that, who knows. I presume all the stuff on his blog about Ely is made up. No-one could possibly have thought the Plough would be open.
*I have no idea what hinterlands are, but it’s a term we used a lot in the NHS. A bit like strategic partnerships.