Friday, 28 May 2010

Britain is a country with old villages in rude health and old pubs with rude landlords

Ralph Steadman, the cartoonist, whose grotesque style is instantly recognisable, was 73 last weekend and I suggested that me and my retired friend D.B. visit his village of Loose near Maidstone in the County of Kent.

The plan was to explore the village and its remains of old water mills and have a drink in 'The Chequers', the village pub, where I knew there was a Steadman cartoon in the bar where he used to drink.

It was bright morning and the village advertised it beauty with flowering garlic and chestnut.

There were newly hatched tadpoles taking the sun in the clear water of the stream.

Water tumbled where 'Gurney's Mill once stood. Originally it was a fulling mill where the water wheel powered hammers which pounded woollen cloth in water and fuller's earth to get rid oils and dirt and make the cloth thicker.

It probably looked something like this :

Today :

We went into the Chequers Pub and ordered some drinks.

I noticed a framed Ralph Steadman painting of the pub in the bar and said to the landlord :

" Does Ralph Steadman still come into the pub". I mispronounced Steadman as 'Steedman' when it is pronounced 'Stedman'.

He looked at me and said : " You mean Stedman ? Occasionally".

He then turned his back on me and started talking to someone behind the bar.
His arrant rudeness was breath taking.

We sat in the garden, finished our drinks and continued our walk along the river bank.

The beauty of the valley which I enjoyed with my good friend D.B. was the perfect antidote to the rudeness of an irascible pub landlord who owned no land and was no lord.

Ralph Steadman's pictures :

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