Reading this lovely post by Retired Martin about one of my favourite pubs in the UK, the Coalbrookdale Inn in, well Coalbrookdale, just up from that wonderful town of Ironbridge, I was reminded of one of the more surprising happenings in my many pub visits.
As you may have read here before, every year, three cronies and I take a couple of nights away in a pubby part of the country. The West Midlands is always a favourite, therefore we have been in the Ironbridge area more than once. I can't remember the exact date, but it was a long time ago - these events do not make recall of detail all that easy, though of course, as we all get older, the amount of beer has become almost sensible and greater clarity is assured. But these were halcyon days.
On this occasion, likely sometime in the 1980's, we had a night - or maybe two - in Coalbrookdale. We'd all been there before, probably on a CAMRA coach trip or suchlike, but we booked into a pub opposite the Coalbrookdale Inn. It was a decent enough boozer, owned by Marstons I think, and it did rooms at a very reasonable rate. It was fine for our needs, which essentially are to be clean and comfortable with a breakfast and car parking. On the appointed evening, after a day no doubt boozing away (we have a designated non-drinking driver) we had a couple of pints in the Marstons pub, then headed across the road to the bustling Coalbrookdale Inn for a wider choice of beer, before heading down to Ironbridge for more beer and eats.
After a few minutes - the pub has a more or less square bar - the landlord shouted "Phone call for Peter". We all ignored this. Now to explain to my younger reader, back in those days - pre mobile phone - it wasn't at all unusual to call a pub and ask to speak to "whoever" if he is in. Now nobody knew we were there we thought and therefore the call out in a busy pub could not possibly be for any of us and could be safely ignored. We carried on supping. Having got no response, the barman returned to the phone, presumably to relate the lack of success to the caller. A few seconds later he appeared in front of us. "Any of you lads Peter Alexander?" quoth our hero. I stammered "Me" while we all looked on in astonishment. "Phone call for you" he said.
Needless to say, it was the lovely E. But how had she tracked me down? Well simples really. She had phoned the Marstons pub and the barman there had said words to the effect of "You've just missed them. They've all gone across the road to the Coalbrookdale. Do you want their phone number?" E then phoned and found me.
Back in these far off days, before mobile phones were widely owned, somehow we still managed to contact each other. I have been phoned for in many pubs over the years, albeit long ago, but that for me, was a bit of a record.
The Coalbrookdale Inn has, I think been a bit gentrified since those days, but is still a cracker.
I remember that night cramming into a local's car and careering off to Ironbridge. God know how many were in it, but I can still hear the clang as the arse end of the car banged the road from time to time.
The lost art of the "Is he in the pub?" phone call, is a great subject too from the past.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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