Bray in 1937

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Jim Agar, Mar 25, 2020 at 11:16 AM.

  1. Reading Eric Newby’s autobiographical “Something Wholesale” and came upon this passage which tickled me somewhat so thought I’d share:
    In July 1937, we were in our way downstream, bound for Richmond after Henley Regatta. We arrived very damp at Bray, a village once famous for its vicar, latterly for the Hind Head Hotel, which at that time had one of the finest cellars in England. We had an excellent dinner. My father drank burgundy and my mother drank claret (this was one of the provinces in which he never succeeded in subordinating her tastes to his own).
  2. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    But what did he make of the snail porridge?
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  3. The Hind's Head once boasted the finest cellar in Britain bar none and was the number one destination for wine enthusiasts under the legendary Barry Neame.
    I've always been disappointed that Heston Blumenthal didn't try to revive the tradition.
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  4. He does serve half decent grub there though.
  5. Indeed, and apparently what was the cellar is now a development kitchen so there is no room anyway.
  6. Great quote Jim from an author I much enjoy

    I am currently reading a book from this period, largely autobiographical, from the late Sir J C "Farting Jack" Squire who was very fond of his wine and also cricket, which like me he played very badly. It was his team which provided the inspiration for AG Macdonell's England Their England.
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  7. I really liked his On The Shores of the Mediterranean. By the way, in 1937 he would have been only 18 years old.
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  8. Another delicious vignette:
    They rarely travelled by air. My father had been a pioneer air traveller on Imperial Airways until on one occasion the machine in which he had been travelling had got into an air pocket and fallen vertically a hundred feet before regaining its equilibrium. The shock had been so great that my father’s head had gone clean through the roof and he had found himself in a screaming wind looking straight into the monocled eye of Sir Sefton Brancker, the Director of Civil Aviation, who had suffered a similar indignity. After a forced landing in a field near Romney Marsh, Sir Sefton had stood my father a bottle of Champagne, but he had had enough of aeroplanes and his subsequent journeys were made by more conventional means.
  9. Oh, do tell! :)
  10. Different times....
  11. I wish I knew, Rob. I just remember hearing him called that. He does get a reference on p.214 of Anthony Burgess's fabulous Earthly Powers: "Dear Jack Squire, silly old fart." But there must have been more to it than that
  12. Thanks for that, Jasper, you remind me that I've been intending to reread Earthly Powers for years. Now is the ideal time.
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  13. As I commented in a previous thread on the subject, it has one of the greatest opening lines of any work of literature (IMHO).

    Edit: I’ve just checked my copy to make sure I get it exactly right :

    “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

    So much information conveyed in so few words. And what intriguing information! Who wouldn’t want to read on?
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020 at 5:50 PM
  14. Best opening to a novel? How about:
    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
    One day I’ll read it in full.
  15. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Earthly Powers has the best opening line
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  16. Very good, Jasper!

    As I mentioned above, there was a thread on this very subject a few years ago but I've not looked for it again.
  17. From memory, A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush has one of the best closing lines. (I met Thesiger a couple of times. He was rude till the end.)
  18. Great closing lines.
    ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’
    I really must make an effort to read the novel.
    “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” isn’t too shabby. Not that I intend to read the book ( or sit through the whole movie).
    ‘And I only am escaped alone to tell thee’ is a fitting finale though the opening sentence top it.
    'Call me Ishmael. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.’
    A book I started but never finished. I might return to it, one day.

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