My recent posting on the price of a loaf in London seems to have struck a chord. I suppose it’s fundamental, the price of bread is something that a lot of people take an interest in. I’ve never been a great fan of what we call over here “Mother’s Pride” type of bread. “Mother’s Pride” was a brand that specialised in white factory manufactured sliced bread that would keep for days and days. I suppose it was perhaps the best thing to happen since sliced bread, because it was just that. To me it never had any taste and was only made better by crisp bacon and tomato ketchup in between the slices, and of course it was never made by a mother of any sort. I understand that it is made by the Chorleywood baking method, a factory based way of making bread that was introduced to this country in the Fifties. I believe that the bread made during the second world war was better for us than this factory produced polifilla!
Like beer in the Seventies bread has recovered from this low point and now ‘artisan’ bread, which was what I was buying in London, can be bought almost anywhere. Made by individuals rather than machine this stuff is really worth the extra dough. ( sorry ) Just like the craft beers you can buy from almost anywhere, that have put the Campaign for Real Ale with very little to do any more, the taste is the difference. Remember the tins of Watney’s”Party Seven” beers that you could buy, utter rubbish. So things really have got better, in some respects.
Nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.
I make no excuses for re- posting this drawing of an original pub landlord with words by my chum Gordon Thorburn, a fine writer.It sums up what things used to be like.
The Pub Landlord of the Surly Old Git Public House
The Surly Old Git
…is exactly as it was when its purpose in life was to cater for the eager, laughing crowds coming off shift from the drop forge. Now, hidden away on the canal bank, mid city, between the back of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and the Yeung Chow Chow Fan Wholesale Warehouse, it has two sorts of customer: regular and unwary.
The regulars, mostly journalists, are there in the hope of witnessing a Heritage Moment, when a stranger walks in and catches one of the last genuinely baleful glares left in the British leisure industry. The facial expression they are waiting for should have its own brown sign on the motorway.
Infallibly, it is induced in the eponymous landlord by a new and insensitive customer’s recitation of the following lines.
‘Ah, mine host! A foaming pint of your finest draught mild, if you would be so kind. Very well then, I shall have bitter. Yes, the smooth will be fine. And a spritzer for my good lady here. Dry white wine and soda. Ah, right, well, a cider would be excellent. Or, indeed, as you say, a half of smooth. And what flavour crisps do we have this fine day? Two packets of pork scratchings, of course. Could you just top that pint up for me, please?’