Friday, August 05, 2011

Another nostalgic tremor in the ether

Another piece of news that caught my eye in the Oxford Drinker magazine which JK brought back from England for me a couple of weeks ago (which I have probably read cover to cover about three or four times) concerned Andrew Hall, landlord of the Rose & Crown pub on Oxford's North Parade.

I remember him - and the pub, of course, one of Oxford's best - from my student days there back in the 1980s. In fact, he was one of my first ever employers, as I worked as a barman for him one summer. He gave the impression of having been around forever, but I learn that he had in fact only just taken over the pub when I first started going there. Now, though, he really has been around forever: still going strong after more than 28 years (I had thought he was in his forties when I knew him, late thirties at the very least; so, he must be quite a good age by now). After a quarter of a century of running the place as tenants, he and his wife Debbie finally bought the pub for themselves a few years ago. That's very pleasing news - congratulations to them! I'll have to look in on them when I next make it back. It seems the Rose & Crown may be about the last piece of 'my Oxford' to have survived unchanged. [Weeps]

[As I recall, Mr Hall came across as a bit of a humourless git much of the time, and did not enjoy a very affectionate rapport with his customers or with his staff - certainly not with his staff. However, he most assuredly knew how to run a good bar. Actually, there seems to be a long and noble tradition in England of great, long-surviving landlords being notorious curmudgeons (Eric, owner of The Temple, my main Oxford haunt, was a grumpy old sod, too; Norman Ballon, the celebrated proprietor of the Coach & Horses in Soho for many years and a world-class grouch, also comes to mind, of course; and there are many others). I wonder why that should be?]

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