Monday, 10 December 2018

The last pint

For a number of years, something called “The Session” has been run on a monthly basis amongst beer bloggers. This is basically asking the various bloggers to write their own take on a common subject. While the results have often been interesting, I have never participated, because I don’t really see this as a “beer blog” as such. It is more a blog on the general subject of lifestyle freedom, but centred around beer and pubs. And, as a political conservative, a craft beer sceptic, and a passionate and unrepentant opponent of the smoking ban, I have never felt part of that community.

However, it was a coincidence too poignant to miss that the last outing of “The Session” came last Friday, on the subject of which beer you feel would be most appropriate for a funeral. This happened to be the day on which my dad would have been a hundred years old, had he lived. He was born on 7 December 1918, and died on 2 March 2010.

I loved him dearly, and scarcely a day goes by on which I don’t miss him. Yes, in some ways he could be a very annoying man, and I’m sure in other ways he also found me something of a disappointment. But that is probably common to most father and son relationships, and ever since I came within a year or so of legal drinking age we would regularly share a pint or two in the pub. It was where we had our best and most open conversations. I can recognise in him many of my own character traits, in particular his refusal to tug the forelock to authority, which undoubtedly hindered his career, and also probably did the same to mine. But would he – or I – really have enjoyed the advancement that came from brown-nosing? In summary, we were both awkward buggers.

In his last years, especially since he had to give up driving, I would often take him out for a pint, latterly generally to the Golden Lion * in Frodsham, a Sam Smith’s pub. Indeed, this was the pub in which he enjoyed his last ever pint, in the Autumn of 2009. Of all the pubs in the area, this was the one he felt most at home in, for all the usual reasons for which Sam’s pubs stand out from the crowd. He was a firm believer in the virtues of bench seating, and we always had the same corner in which we would sit. Ironically, while I was driving, I would have a couple of pints, while he would just have one and a half or, towards, the end, just the one.

He always enjoyed a pint, and I have shared many hundreds with him, but I never saw him drunk, or anything beyond mildly tipsy at Christmas. I converted him to the idea of real ale, and for many years, Good Beer Guide in hand, he would seek out real ale pubs when on holiday with my mum. But, in his later years, he always enjoyed a pre-lunch can of Tetley Bitter at home. He never lost his intelligence, although towards the end it could become a bit vague and sporadic. In my experience, what tends to go with your parents is more their capacity to make decisions.

I miss you, dad, but I’m glad I shared a final pint of real ale with you in a proper pub.

* The Golden Lion always had cask beer when we went there, although sadly I see it has now gone keg, like many other Sam Smith’s pubs. But, even had that been the case when my dad was alive, I suspect we would still have gone there.

8 comments:

  1. I had never pinpointed the decision making breakdown like you did at the end of the post. Very perceptive based on what I have seen, and I think accurate. Nice post.

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  2. The Stafford Mudgie10 December 2018 at 17:05

    That's a poignant reminder of how much my father, 1927 to 2002, has always meant to me.
    I didn't benefit from such precious time with him, not because he wasn't one for pubs or beer but because everything was done 'as a family' and involved my mother and brother.

    I recently enjoyed a meal out with my friends from secondary school, 1966 to 1973, who said they would have a pint and a half during an evening out if they were driving.

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  3. A nice tribute. 91 is not bad going, although of course it's never enough (my own father's dates were 1913-2001).

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  4. Superb post. "in some ways he could be a very annoying man, and I’m sure in other ways he also found me something of a disappointment. But that is probably common to most father and son relationships... I can recognise in him many of my own character traits, in particular his refusal to tug the forelock to authority, which undoubtedly hindered his career, and also probably did the same to mine. But would he – or I – really have enjoyed the advancement that came from brown-nosing? In summary, we were both awkward buggers."
    So much like my Dad (1925-1998) except he wasn't really a pub man. He left me some medals, a refusal to go bald and general awkwardness.

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  5. A lovely post Mudge, and a moving tribute to your father. It's good that you were able to enjoy all those pints and father and son pub chats with your dad.

    My own dear old dad is still with us; in body only, as his mind and most of his memories are being taken from him by the ravishes of Alzheimer's. He was never a beer drinker, or indeed much of a pub-goer, but none of that detracted from him being a wonderful father.

    I will visit him over Christmas, at the Norfolk care home where he has resided for the past three years. He turned 87 back in June.

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  6. Poignant but not mawkish, a lovely and perceptive read. The point about decision-making is spot-on.

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  7. Professor Pie-Tin11 December 2018 at 05:48

    Nice one Mudge.
    My old man was a cantankerous sod and stickler for discipline based on his 36 years in the army.
    I was never that close to either of my parents having been packed off to boarding school when I was seven.
    But all that changed on the day he had a stroke and a long,lonely night in a hospital which a doctor warned me he might not make it through.
    But he did and every year for the next ten years on that day we shared a bottle of champagne and laughed at the doctor.
    We grew much closer and enjoyed a lot of holidays and drinking together even though he was partially disabled by the stroke.
    He was never a beer man but loved good wine and Johnny Walker Black Label.
    I can't say I miss him or my mother that much because they were absent for most of my childhood.
    But I know the sacrifices they made to pay for the good education that gave me a better life than they had.
    And having got two kids of my own I now know what a pain in the hole I must have been for him when I was their age.
    He'd have been a Brexiteer too.He hated Germany but not the German people with a passion after seeing so many of his mates killed in the war.
    And he loved Europe,particularly France,but loathed the EU because he just saw it as another way for Germany to dominate Europe once again.
    Life,eh ?

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  8. Nice one Peter, actually quite touching, my old man will probably outlive me being only 78(just 20 yrs older than me) drinks wine mostly but not a pub man unfortunately, I guess you can take them for granted while they're around.

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