TOON ’84

I’ve fallen into a bit of a routine with the blog.

One local walk a day,centred on a closed pub with some unexpected graffiti and an attempt to resist a takeaway, followed by a delve into the archives, prompted by Alastair‘s kind donation of North East pub guides.

In the interest of recycling, and to avoid getting shouted at Mrs RM (who thought I’d got rid of my “tat”), I’ve already started sending some stuff on.

This is the most I’ve used the Royal Mail for 30 years. As well as Duncan, my Dad has enjoyed receiving old programmes; this is one from his time in National Service in Cornwall. Sadly he never made it to the Bugle Inn or the photos would have been in this blog.

Last night I discovered a useful tool for calculating when you’ll get the vaccine, within confidence levels of 3 years either side.

Based on a first jab in mid-March, I’d like pubs re-opened on the 20th March, please. Half a dozen in Northumberland will do.

Talking of the (true) North, I’ve enjoyed this beautifully illustrated Guide to Northumberland beer from that golden year (for Torville & Dean, anyway) of 1984.

In 1984, John Smiths is still “a good drinking bitter”,

one beer is plenty (sometimes more than enough) in the region’s real ale pubs, and the map is as gloriously unreadable as ever.

In 1984 I was at a euphoric Abbey Stadium to see Cambridge United break a 31 game winless streak by beating Newcastle United;Keegan, Waddle, Beardsley and all.

Also that year, the estimable Matthew Parris spent a week trying to live on supplementary benefits in a World in Action classic. It says it’s a classic, and it is.

Tune in after 8 minutes and work out what the pub is.

And note how fast Matthew sinks that gassy pint. There’s something about Matthews.

The maps aren’t great, but the illustrations more than compensate;

If I could be anywhere in Newcastle today, I’d be at the Bridge Hotel.

I wonder where Google Maps will let me peep in ?

40 thoughts on “TOON ’84

  1. Good choice with The Bridge. There is also a cracking pub, and I have forgotten its name, under The Tyne Bridge at the bottom of Dean Street, just near the start of the Quayside. It may be The Newcastle Arms. They have a mini brewery at the back of the pub and they do good beers and also decent food. I haven’t been to a rubadubdub since March 2020 but I particularly kiss that one. I was last “back home” and in that pub 3 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It just looks gorgeous, doesn’t it ? Great location, cosy pub. There’s another pub just along called the Bridge Tavern with a microbrewery, used to be called the Newcastle Arms, suspect it’s that. I get confused !

      Hope it’s not too long before you can get back.

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    1. Always used the Vermont Hotel – just over the yard from the Bridge – for St. James Park, but it must be ten years since my last visit sadly.

      It must still be the Newcastle pub that I know best though, I used to feel like a regular there, and yes it’s the view that I remember best too..

      With acknowledgements.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That documentary is available, in full, on my post so you can judge for yourself. I thought he came across as brave if naive, but he was only 34 and fresh out of working for Margaret Thatcher as correspondence secretary at the time.

        He actually left politics to take over from Brian Walden as host of Weekend World.

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      2. I missed all that with not having a television from the late 1970s to early 1990s. I could do without one now.
        That “A pint of bitter please” sounded like the first time he had asked that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My first ever job was working in the Bridge. It changed hands late last year along with the rest of the pubs belonging to the Sir John Fitzgerald chain after selling to Ladhar Group who already owned some of the better city pubs. Their future and the beer ranges and quality are in safe enough hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A fine free-ranging post. I remember that edition of WIA provoking plenty discussion in ways that would rarely be generated by a current affairs tv programme now. Matthew Parris emerged on the compassionate wing of the Tory party (as much of a minority then as now). It’s difficult to imagine any contemporary politicians exposing themselves to a similar experience or indeed ITV making a programme like WIA. Also remember when John Smith’s went cask – considered a major breakthrough at the time and my (probably flawed) recall is of a perfectly acceptable beer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It made an impression on my teenage brain at the time; he was living on less than me (I was on £50 a week in December ’83 when that was filmed, no beer costs then though !).

      That WIA programme is a model of documentary making, lacking the fluff, drama and constant recapping we get these days.

      I think I was lucky with John Smiths; I drunk a lot in the late ’90s/early ’00s in GBG pubs that just sold John’s and a neglected guest in North and West Yorkshire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve just watched it all the way through again. Good job he didn’t have to buy himself shoes or clothes. At the time I was contemptuous about his naïveté but watching again makes me feel almost sorry for his lack of awareness (maybe in the more sympathetic context of his personal journey). It must have been a formative experience for him but it’s also depressing how such views still prevail. If you’d told me then that many people on the modern equivalent of SB are actually in work (but on zero hours contracts etc) I wouldn’t have believed you. But then I wouldn’t have believed there would be over 50 breweries in Tyne and Wear/ Northumberland. The WIA music is iconic. Thanks- a great post!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Martin,
        Yes indeed, lovely John Smiths in Preston not so long ago,
        They probably sell more like a hogshead than a firkin of it a week.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Some of our group DIDN’T drink John Smiths that day; I believe their appeals against expulsion from the Pubs & Beer Forum are being held next month. (to be fair the Plum Porter was also nectar in the Market Tavern that day).

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      3. I know what you mean, Paul, but I reckon we both did ourselves justice with our travels. I still wish I’d made Burton and the Derby Inn in March; must have been a family emergency that prevented it.

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  4. It’s funny to think how different whatever beer/pub writing was around in 1984 would have been from the contentious sort of thing we see on the internet today. Makes you a little nostalgic from the days when someone could say “John Smiths is a good drinking beer” and everyone would say, “Yeah, can’t argue with you there.” 🙂

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  5. “I’ve already started sending some stuff on.”

    Cracking idea that!

    “Last night I discovered a useful tool for calculating when you’ll get the vaccine, within confidence levels of 3 years either side.”

    That’s actually not that bad. Less than 2 months to the first jab. This does take into account the news that the EU is being snarky about letting some vaccines (under contract) go outside of their domain?
    (Canada has apparently been caught up in this as well)

    “Based on a first jab in mid-March, I’d like pubs re-opened on the 20th March, please. Half a dozen in Northumberland will do.”

    One can dream. 😉

    “and the map is as gloriously unreadable as ever.”

    I see that most of the funny names have been added since then. 🙂

    “Tune in after 8 minutes and work out what the pub is.”

    Either the Three Bulls Head or The Highlander?

    “And note how fast Matthew sinks that gassy pint. There’s something about Matthews.”

    (slow golf clap)

    “If I could be anywhere in Newcastle today, I’d be at the Bridge Hotel.”

    Gorgeous.

    “I wonder where Google Maps will let me peep in ?”

    Not quite the same, but you can do this:

    https://preview.tinyurl.com/yylc4jet

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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