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Bird in the concrete fist

December 15, 2013

In the gathering murky dark that is the typical nasty grey damp mark of December, we cranked up the Merc and set sail for Waltham St Lawrence. I had booked to stay in the nearby Bird In The Hand, which according to its website suggested that it was a 14th century coaching inn, just the sort of thing for a winter’s evening in the run up to Christmas. Imagine an ancient, cozy and intimate pub tucked away in the country in deepest Berkshire. That was what I did imagine. What they had sensibly omitted from the website was that it was on the A4, the Great Bath Road, and that every nook and cranny of charm that might once have been there had been surgically removed by the most unsympathetic architect, with no eye for colour, sophistication or charm. He would be the type to have designed a concentration camp and been pleased with its clean lines. Perhaps Sir Richard Rogers was involved? I do not consider a concrete and brick jungle to be “cozy”.

walking on the beach

The beach at Rustington

Swirly carpets were, until last night, my least favourite floor covering, now it is tartan carpet. The sort of tartan that one might find adorning the rug one might put over ones knees if one were Scottish and suffering from terminal gout. However the problems did not end there. Apart from its proximity to a major trunk road that the owners had thoughtfully forgotten to mention, the huge uninviting red brick extension robbed the building of my intimacy it once may have had. My least favourite Xmas decorations – flashing Christmas tree lights were adorning a plastic tree in the middle of the main room off the bar, flashing away like a peeping tom, and the beers were all execrable. How can you have 4 real ales available, two pale end two dark and not a normal bitter in sight? The choice was so poor that we were forced into drinking a not very good pint of Guinness, so you can see that I was in a hurry to leave.

Thus we were delighted when our lift arrived to bring us back into civilisation. Our driver Clive Panto (real name, Oh yes it is) and soon to be Currencies Direct client, can be amusing and irritating in equal measure. A comedian by trade, pretending to be a team leader and builder, he is funny in a way that you are often laughing at him rather than with him, but I guess he makes a living doing what he is doing and does not seem to work very hard, so perhaps he has it right. Anyway he was supposed to be our driver but when we got to the car it was being driven by his saintly wife, the lovely Catherine. When I questioned this, because one obviously wants to avoid being driven by a woman at night in the rain, however beautiful she is, Clive reminded me that he is unable to reverse. Quite what that had to do with driving at night eluded me at the time and still eludes me now. It seems that he cannot look backwards over his shoulder without feeling sick and so delegates the driving duties in his family for the most part to his long-suffering spouse. I must remember that ploy.

A microcosm of the ex pat drinking classes of the south of France were gathered at the home of a BA pilot whom I cannot name for professional reasons, for a party. It was a raucous affair and that is the reason I shall draw a discrete veil over proceedings. Suffice to say that I shall expect my flight to Barbados in March next year to be at a considerably higher standard than that for which I have paid.

Chris France

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rev. Jeff. permalink
    December 15, 2013 11:39 am

    The Bird In Hand; Waltham St. Lawrence,
    Is culturally no match, for say, Florence,
    Tartan carpets too florid,
    The decor just horrid,
    No wonder Chris vents his abhorrence !


  2. Rev. Jeff. permalink
    December 15, 2013 11:46 am

    Speaking of all things horrid, what the heck are England doing Down-under ? Who on earth thought it was a good idea to take two giant fast bowlers and then not play them on what’s supposed too be one of the fastest, bounciest tracks in the world. I despair !!!!


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