Thursday, June 6, 2013

Flogging Friday's Off!

Its not often that Viv and I take trips to different places at different times to do different specific things but a couple of weeks ago was one of them.  Viv went to Toronto to see the Rolling Stones whilst I went to England for my old school old boys annual cricket match.

The cricket match was in Southend as always at the old school's grounds against a team called The Mount who use the ground as their home ground -- and really it is a lovely setting.  The concert was at the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto.

I arrived on May 24th, Bermuda Day -- in reality Queen Victoria's birthday and a holiday celebrated around the Commonwealth by being whatever's national day BUT not in Britain curiously.  It was raining when I arrived and was around 50 degrees.  Typical for the year apparently but it came as a shock to me as it had started to warm up in Bermuda.

Fortunately my friend Kevin who I was staying with suggested a short drive out into the lovely Essex countryside and lunch and a couple of pints at a 14th Century coaching inn in Maldon called the Blue Boar Hotel. An inspired suggestion.  The place was wonderful and had a large roaring log fire to cheer us all up.

The evening was something I was looking forward to as Kevin's brother Andy (another old school friend) had bought a pub in a village called Little Bromley and had quit his City job to run it with his wife and father-in-law.  

I do like the north Essex countryside as it is real Constable country -- the artist John Constable that is, not the boys in blue.  And the pub itself was all that you could hope for that far out in the country (north of Colchester on the Sussex border).  Called the Haywain after the famous Constable painting Andy gave me the tour and ... well, what a story.

The Haywain by John Constable

Apparently the pub used to be called the Fox and Hounds and was one of the largest gay/transvestite pub/clubs in the east.  People used to travel down from as far afield as Newcastle (which is 500+ miles away) particularly for the Friday Night is Flogging Night sessions.  Andy said cleaning the place out was absolutely disgusting with all the restraints, mattresses.... well, you get the picture.

With Gill. Andy in the background.

He also said that his neighbours in the 20 home village, 1 pub, no other retail store, were delighted he was there as their house prices had now gone up by at least 20%.

Not so the group who turned up a few weeks ago on a Friday expecting a darn good thrashing but were only offered a pint of delicious Adnams by mine host.

The weekend was cloudless blue skies and warmth.  Fantastic.  And the game was great too... another draw.  But the stories!  My favourite was Luis'.

You have to know Luis and of course the old Headmaster whom everyone nicknamed 'Bubble' because of his perfectly round and bald head.  Luis was captain of tennis and on one occasion was waiting outside the door of the new Headmaster's office wanting to chat to him about using the court for a team practice.  Bubble came along and said:

"Come with me, see."

"But sir, I am waiting to see the Headmaster about..."

"Don't speak, boy.  It will only go worse for you if you do."

"But sir, I haven't..."

"I repeat, don't speak boy.  Come with me."

And they went into the old man's study (he really was an old man by this time.  Well over 80).  As Bubble rummaged in his cupboard, Luis suddenly realised what was happening.  Bubble was searching for the perfect cane that he'd cut from the bamboo growing in the garden.

"Sir, you should know that I wasn't..."

"Silence, boy.  I already told you speaking will only make it worse."

"But sir..."

And then Luis gave up and took his punishment like a man.  

But it didn't end there for Luis's dad was a strict disciplinarian.  He always wanted to know if Luis had been punished, how and what for and so Luis was faced with a dilemma.  What did he say if anything? If he said nothing, his dad would find out and ...  If he told him, he wouldn't likely believe in Luis' innocence (and in all honesty, who would?).  Luis told him and was ... well punished again.

A couple of weeks later, Bubble called Luis into his study again where to Luis' surprise he offered him a glass of whisky and a cigar.  Luis took both as the undoubted peace offering that it was intended to be.

And of course the Stones.  Well Viv said they were fantastic.  Of course they were!

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