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Next message Tim posted on Monday, 28 November, 2005 - 04:45 pm
As Tricky suggests it's really time for a 'Christmas booze' thread...

...with a Sky connection.

For your starter try Monkman’s Slaughter at
At 6.0% abv you might not want much more than a starter though.
Next message Chris posted on Monday, 28 November, 2005 - 09:42 pm
Please, don't talk to me about booze...

I was 42 on Friday and went to Nottingham to celebrate. I got spectacularly drunk on Friday night and was subsequently spectacularly ill on Saturday morning! Technicolor doesn't even begin to describe it! It was a slaughter, alright! But I don't think Francis Monkman was directly involved. Right now, I never want to drink alcohol ever again. But then, I've said that before!!!!!


Please forgive this 'Bah - humbug' moment.
Next message Tim posted on Tuesday, 29 November, 2005 - 12:48 am
Nottingham - binge-drinking capital of the world... and at 42 you're supposed to know the meaning of life the universe and everything. Sounds like you got absolutely toccataed...

My own 42nd birthday was probably rather less memorable. That might have been the year it rained torrentially throughout the drive from Brittany back to Brummagem, and the ferry was too choppy to keep anything down. Or was that the year we went out for a Sunday pub-lunch and ended up in McDonalds... :-(
Next message Tricky posted on Tuesday, 29 November, 2005 - 09:41 am
Found by accident, when I'd run out of everything else. 2/3 dark rum (no wishy-washy bacardi) and 1/3 Vimto. Top up with diet lemonade to suit. The only concoction I know that uses Vimto. Leave the raw materials at a distance - getting off your couch is the only way you'll know how badly it's hit you and when to stop. Prepare yourself for constipation :-)

No Sky connection, unless of course "The Spirit"....
Next message Chris posted on Tuesday, 29 November, 2005 - 12:25 pm
At 42, I seem to find that I'm continually learning new things about life, the universe and everything! But, yes, maybe I should have known better and maybe stuck to my usual tipple of Pepsi Max...

Strangely enough, despite the fact that I wasn't on a ferry, I also had difficulty keeping anything down. Actually, no, I'll amend that. I found it impossible! Maybe FIFO could be applied here? First In, First Out?

Oh, the memory...

Never again. Honest...
Next message Tim posted on Tuesday, 29 November, 2005 - 02:54 pm
You could try a non-alcoholic Sky-food.

How about Fry's Turkish Delight (and curiously in Mozart's day 'Turkish' meant with percussion).

Where do you get Vimto these days Tricky? To most people it sounds like a household cleaner - though I guess some people would still drink it (death through aftershave poisoning is not unknown in Moscow).
Next message Tricky posted on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005 - 09:11 am
Vimto - available at Tesco, Costco, Netto, and any other stores ending in o. Will probably be banned eventually on dental health grounds.

A variant to my above recipe - replace the lemonade with hot (ish) water for a near instant, warm, fuzzy-headed, winter glo :-)
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005 - 09:29 am
Replace the hot(ish) water with Hotta water for your Sky drink. ;-)
Next message Bill D posted on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005 - 04:52 pm
I'd rather have a Cava with Tina.
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005 - 08:38 pm
Who's Tina? Sorry, can't match your sparkling/dry wit.
Next message Tim posted on Thursday, 01 December, 2005 - 07:15 pm
Bill, as a Barrios aficionado you might prefer a Cathedral ale - there's lots of those around from Canterbury, Chester, Hereford etc, but sadly no Cerveza Catedral from Montevideo. :-)
Next message Bill D posted on Thursday, 01 December, 2005 - 10:30 pm
Well, I'm partial to Abbot Ale but being the cynical Victor Meldrew type, my current favourite is a Scottish beer called 'Bitter & Twisted'.
Next message Tricky posted on Friday, 02 December, 2005 - 11:06 am
Hmmm... Hotta - I think I'll adopt that one - thanks Tim. Print Sky beermats... - is that too sad? I'll be popping into a local soon to try the "Great Horny Owl" (as well as). The addition of cinnamon has made me consider this as a variant on the Hotta recipe - Son of Hotta. Will report in due course...
Next message Tim posted on Saturday, 03 December, 2005 - 01:06 pm
You could print Sky beermats, or you could just buy some used CDs on e-Bay to use as coasters. Some people hang CDs in the garden to scare off the birds (depending on musical taste, they can have the same effect in the single man's CD collection).

Incidentally, can you still get 'Flowers Original'?
Next message Tim posted on Monday, 05 December, 2005 - 11:14 pm
Well obviously no-one else remembers Flowers Original. Surprised I do, not having drunk since I was at Oxford (Bill, I went there for the weekend, I'm not claiming three years).

Other Sky connected beers include a couple of Grays (Chelmsford and Eccles, both no longer brewing) and Hart. Their brews have included Hart Posing Paula (what!) and something that sounds sounds like a 70s 'supergroup' - Hart Fleetwood Ambassador.
Next message plutopants posted on Tuesday, 06 December, 2005 - 12:32 am
How about some KP nuts to soak up the ale?
Next message Tricky posted on Tuesday, 06 December, 2005 - 09:03 am
The Flowers brand (IPA, Original etc) disappeared in a maze of takeovers some time ago. Not surprisingly, beermats and badges are up on ebay. I've found a Toccata (Belgian) beer on google.
Next message Chris posted on Tuesday, 06 December, 2005 - 12:37 pm
I could be really sad and suggest that the perfect accompaniment for KP Nuts (dry roasted or just roasted?) would be a bar of Fry's Turkish Delight. But, I won't.
Next message Myke.  posted on Wednesday, 07 December, 2005 - 11:45 am
You could try my home-brew wines (12%+) or ciders (16%+), then you'd be well Fugued the next day!! Terrible pun I know but with befuddled brain, was best I could come up with.

BTW, my 42nd was also this year, and I got 'Tertiaried', Quadrenaried' and 'Quintessentialled' on the way home!
Next message Chris posted on Wednesday, 07 December, 2005 - 11:01 pm
...1963 was certainly an incredible year! What with all these great people being born and the very first episode of Doctor Who as well. Does the world realise how lucky it is?


P.S. Even with the help of a thesaurus (a kind of clever dinosaur with a good vocabulary?) I cannot find words that even begin to describe how I felt the morning after!!! Seriously, folks... never again...

Or have I said that already?
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 07 December, 2005 - 11:53 pm
"And it's no, no, never! No, no, never, no more! Will I..."

Rather than go round the country/world trying different beers you could see what can be done with Fry's Turkish Delight and KP Nuts. But by the time you've been to Scotland and had a deep-fried Turkish Delight (if you order the special they'll deep-fry the nuts too) you won't want to come to Brummagem to try the same ingredients in a Balti.

Instead you'll be off to Belgium, to practice part-emptying a row of bottles so they're perfectly tuned to play Toccata. "I think the D's still a litttle bit sharp, I'd better take another sip...."
Next message Chris posted on Sunday, 11 December, 2005 - 02:34 pm
Strangely enough, when I was in Edinburgh a few weeks ago, I did notice that in a fish and chip shop, just around the corner from the hotel, they were doing deep fried Mars bars! I gather that this obscure 'delicacy' was 'invented' up there.

Needless to say, I didn't bother...

But a deep fried bar of Fry's Turkish Delight... Now that's a whole different kettle (drum?) of fish...
Next message Tricky posted on Sunday, 11 December, 2005 - 04:06 pm
If you were quick enough, you could have always washed down the deep fried Mars bar (it sounds positively lethal!) with a pint of Old Mortality, brewed by the Williams bros brewing company. Although this ale isn't listed on their site, Williams Gold, Red, Black and Joker are.
Next message Tim posted on Sunday, 11 December, 2005 - 06:24 pm
Foodies considered the deep-fried Mars bar an urban myth until a Scottish 'chef' started doing them in Paris. To the traditional recipe of Mars and batter he added cinnamon (obviously a popular ingredient). Last year a survey by the NHS in Glasgow found 22% of chip shops served them. You could also get a 'supper' of deep-fried Mars with chips.

As to this Williams beer, it's brewed in Alloa, so I wonder if it's made with dehydrated water....
Next message Bill D posted on Sunday, 11 December, 2005 - 09:07 pm
I can confirm that the deep-fried Mars bar is NOT a myth. (I live just outside Glasgow.) However, I have never tried one.

I DO like the deep-fried and battered black puddings and haggis served in chip shops here. Glasgow chip shops also deep-fry pizzas (although without the batter).

As you probably realise now, in a Scottish chip shop, 'supper' means 'with chips'. However, if you want fish (or whatever) with no chips, you ask for 'a single fish', but they give you one and a half pieces of fish.

Also, if you want a single measure of whisky in a pub, you ask for a 'half' but, if you want a double, you ask for a 'double'. So a double is twice the size of a half!

And this from the country that gave us the inventor of logarithms.
Next message Tim posted on Sunday, 11 December, 2005 - 11:26 pm
Everyone understands the joke about the constipated mathematician who worked it out etc etc, but I've yet to meet somebody who understands logarithms who can actually explain them. Though apparently logs do explain why the frets get closer together as you go up a guitar neck (it's not an optical illusion).

Thanks for the tip on whisky, Bill. You are in danger of passing on enough tips for an Englishman to make himself understood by a Scottish barman.

The deep-fried pizza was a nod to healthy eating. Realising that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of Coronary Heart Disease some chippies did the obvious thing. After all you can deep fry a pizza - deep-fried paella is harder.

By the way, Sky Christmas booze. There's the Grace Bros. Brewing Co. of Santa Rosa CA (are you being served??), or Grace's Summer Ale from Lake Placid NY. Further away than Belgium - worth the trip, Bud?
Next message Bill D posted on Monday, 12 December, 2005 - 02:11 pm
I can explain logs! I have to when my students do semi-logarithmic graphs. :-)

In a Glasgow pub, a 'hauf'n a hauf' (half and a half) is a single whisky and a half pint of beer although few barmen under 50 would understand what that means now.

If you call me 'Bud', you better be punning on Budvar Budweiser, not that feeble American stuff.
Next message Chris posted on Monday, 12 December, 2005 - 05:23 pm
Strangely enough...

Remember the Nottingham/seriously drunk/42nd birthday/awful morning after incident? Well, as far as I recall, this came about as a result of several bottles of Budweiser, although I can't remember whether or not it was the Budvar variety! I made a conscious decision not to 'mix' my drinks, in the mistaken belief that this would prevent the hellishness that I suffered the following day. Clearly it didn't! Maybe I should have stuck to vodka instead?

My first encounter with Budvar was in Prague, ten years ago when I was a 'mature' student! Did I say mature? Hmmmm.... We went on what was laughingly described (I think) as a cultural visit. What it ended up as was just one massive three day piss-up. For everyone. Students and lecturers alike. As some of you must know, Prague is very cheap as far as alcohol goes and you could get a pint for, something like, ten pence. Mind you, everything was cheap, as I remember me and another student going into the city centre KFC and getting a bargain bucket each! It was something like a quid each! We had what amounted to two floors of the hotel to ourselves and, as I recall, we were kicked out on the final day by disgruntled hotel staff. Can't think why! I'd better not say anymore, as there are professional reputations to be considered here and at least one of my fellow students (my KFC binge eating partner!!) has gone on to great professional success within the film insdustry. Not me, sadly!
But, yeah, that was the first time I drank Budvar. I think...

Strangely enough, most of the barmen (or barpersons, I suppose!) that I encountered in Scotland were actually fellow Brits - mostly students earning some extra dosh, I suspect. The one in the Conan Doyle was especially helpful and recommended Glenfiddick whisky when I explained what it was I wanted. Not a whisky expert, I'm afraid. I enjoyed my time up there and was pleasantly surprised to see that they still have a few old Police Boxes on several city centre corners. And, yes, I did have my picture taking standing beside one.

Which reminds me, Scotland is also the birthplace of the new Doctor Who - David Tennant! Wonder if he'll be serving up deep fried Mars Bars in the TARDIS???!!!
Next message Bill D posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 12:08 am
If you encounter a 'foreign' student working a bar in Glasgow, there's a good chance that (s)he will be Australian!

Never heard of the 'Conan Doyle'. Where is it? I take it that it is in Edinburgh.

The whisky (available EVERYwhere) is called Glenfiddich although foreigners tend to pronounce it 'Glenfiddick'. I suppose it goes with those who call the artist 'Van Goff' or (USA) 'Van Go'.

If you want a really nice, affordable and easily obtainable malt, without any pronunciation problems, ask for 'The Macallan'. Note the 'the'.

BTW, Glaswegian Tardises (Tardes???) were originally painted red, unlike the rest of the country, where they were blue. They only painted them blue because of DW.
Next message Tim posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 12:11 am
Prague! Thanks for the low-down Chris. My son is going on an 'educational visit' there next Easter. Should I worry?

I'd forgotten about the attempt by Buds'R'US to assert their copyright over the name Bud. The UK is one of very few countries where they failed - presumably the law lords thought their claim 'the King of Beers' an affront to the monarchy. As to the rest of the world a large lawsuit will tell you which Bud you mean...

Not being a covers band, Sky didn't do Miles's 'Budo' (aka Hallucinations). BTW Budo doesn't rhyme with ludo.
Next message Tim posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 08:34 am
Missed your last message, Bill. Obviously posting at the same time (spot the synchronised BTWs)!

Thanks for the tips on whisky - I'll soon be able to sound quite authoritative if I find myself in a Glasgow bar (unlikely). So long as I don't try to explain the logarithmic relationship between a single, a double and a half.

My mother used to consider a box of 4 single malt miniatures from M&S was an ideal Christmas present for me ('if you share it they should last you all year'). Then she moved up to a half-bottle of (blended) whisky from Lidl.
Next message Bill D posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 11:03 am
If you don't want small drinks, the order used to be "a pint an' a lood yin" (loud one, i.e., a double) but
(a) fewer and fewer people have a beer and a chaser
(b) fewer and few people drink whisky here
(c) current bar staff would again not understand the old slang.
Next message Tim posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 01:38 pm
OK, I get the picture. So there's no point learning to say "its a braw bricht moon licht nicht the nicht" as I stagger out into the street either or my Englishness will be given away. Would I be better to drink Bacardi Breezers and call out bizarrely "Good Morning Freedom!!". Mmm, an alco-pop, and almost a Sky tune...
Next message Bill D posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 08:45 pm
You might get a better response with the traditional toast "Lang may yir lum reek" ("Long may your chimney smoke").

Don't shout "Freedom!" in a cod Scottish accent. That will alienate those Scots who loved "Braveheart" as well as those who thought it was a load of inaccurate tosh. (And I don't just mean the fact that Mel Gibson was far too wee to play Wallace.)

(I live about a mile and a half away from the spot where William Wallace was captured. There's a little memorial there, always with fresh flowers. Some people take their history seriously.)
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 08:35 am
I learnt a long time ago that cod accents for phrases like 'hoots mon', 'begorrah' and 'yo man' aren't the best way to endear oneself. It's much better just to talk loudly and slowly in one's own accent (I don't have an accent of course, having been to electrocution lessons)...

Actually a serious matter that's almost Sky related. The vocal line in JW's 'Good Morning Freedom' is a bit naff innit and I find it hard to believe that it really seemed cooler in 1971. Any ideas who the vocalist was?
Next message Steve Gray posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 11:55 am
I lived in Glasgow for a couple of years back in the early '60s. My main gig was with the band in the Locarno, Sauchiehall Street, but before that I was working pick-up jobs. I was playing for a new bandleader one night and in the middle of a solo he came over and urged me to "Gie' it fo***n' laldie, son." In the interval I asked the drummer what it meant and he told me the bandleader required a little more vigour in my playing.

And I well remember the 'hauf'n a hauf'. AND the 9.30 closing time. AND the rule that drinks could only be served on a Sunday to bona-fide travellers, which turned the whole of Scotland once a week into a mass of short-haul coach parties.
Next message Bill D posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 03:35 pm
I think the singer in JW's 'Good Morning Freedom' was Madeline Bell.

The Locarno? God, I thought I was old! :-) That's lo-oooong gone. However, I'm impressed with you knowing "laldie". In the Hamilton Folk Club, the equivalent cry to encourage an instrumental solo (after the hotel owner complained about its long version) was "G.F.M.!" ("Go ****in' Mental!")

After the strict licensing laws, Scotland pioneered all-day and late-night opening in the late 70s. This caused me consternation in a Birmingham pub (in the 80s) when I wanted a pint at 1.35 pm!

The Sunday alcohol was only in hotel bars. You couldn't even buy alcohol in supermarkets or off-licences on a Sunday until the late 80s. (However, you could buy booze on a Sunday in the Chinese cash'n'carry, not far from the Glasgow Apollo where I saw Sky!)
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 08:34 pm
Before the Scots reformed their drinking hours many people were caught unawares. Everyone who went to Wales needed to find out if where they were going was dry on a Sunday, so the naive English were caught out when they went to Scotland and everywhere was dry on a Sunday and nobody had thought to warn them.

This year (or do I mean next year) New Year's Day is a Sunday. Cayman Island bar-owners are up in arms that Sunday drinking and loud music are out-lawed, so they'll have to shut up shop at midnight (great for the tourist industry). So Bill, while you're out first-footing with a lump of coal, spare a thought for the Cayman Islanders. The only shiny black lump they'll have is a humbug.

Unless Scots don't go first-footing any more....
Next message Chris posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 09:25 pm

I guess you only need to worry if your son is going with a bunch of Media students! Although I gather that the Leisure and Tourism lot can be a bit mad too! One of the things that struck us (not literally, I hasten to add!) was the fact that cars don't stop (or even slow down) for pedestrians - even when you are on what appear to be very wide zebra crossings! Indeed, they actually appear to speed up and try to hit you! Or maybe it was just me?!! You may like to warn him about that!

Also, we were told to avoid the taxis (not the taxes!), as they were often controlled by the local mafia. This may have been a myth. Certainly, I seem to recall that myself and one of the girls got lost in the city centre at about four in the morning and did, inevitably, hail a passing cab. We made it back to the tube station (and ultimately the hotel) in one piece. Or, I suppose, two pieces! The nightclubs don't open until ours are closing (maybe they should be could morning clubs?) and probably stay open until the last patron passes out. You are frisked on the way in for drugs or weapons (and, yeah, if you haven't got any they give you some!). It's a beautiful city (well, the historic parts of it are), but it's a bit drab on the outskirts. Although, living in Grimsby, I've seen worse! I'm sure he'll have a great time (and come back with almost as much money as he went with!).


The Conan Doyle pub is in the centre of Edinburgh, very close to the shopping centre and the cinema complex, etc... It was, as I recall, diagonally opposite the hotel (the Holiday Inn Express), on the corner. Sorry, can't remember the name of the actual street. Needless to say, it's very Olde Worlde, with plenty of memorabilia relating to Conan Doyle and his most famous creation. I liked it and I can recommend a visit. (Nice big leather, high backed chairs in front of the open fire, etc...) The Glenfiddich was so nice that I just had to have another. So maybe I should have ordered a 'double' in the first place. After that, everything gradually got a little blurry...
Next message Bill D posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 09:57 pm
Scots still go first-footing but there was a chance (now cancelled) that I would have been in Cairo for the Bells. (The kind that ring, not the whisky.)

Haven't been in the Conan Doyle (in York Place, just off Leith Wlak, beyond Princes Street). I have been to the Sherlock Holmes in London (formerly the Northumberland Hotel where Sir Henry Baskerville stayed).
Next message TIm posted on Thursday, 15 December, 2005 - 03:30 pm
Sorry to hear you're not going to Cairo Bill, but at least you won't have to explain to an immigration officer why you've got a lump of old coal in your bag. Assuming the coal bit of first footing's still alive and well.

Thanks for the low down on Prague and Grimsby. Mozart may have written a Prague symphony, but Elton John wrote a song about Grimsby. You can claim a draw.

I'll suggest Bells as another Sky-themed drink. I live within ear-shot of a 48-bell Carillon, and whether it's haufs or doubles we'll need more than one bottle for 48 Bells.
Next message Tim posted on Friday, 16 December, 2005 - 08:58 am
PS Chris, I've just been listening to Elton's "Oh oh Grimsby, a thousand delights / Couldn't match the sweet sights / Of my Grimsby". Is there still (was there ever?) a Skinners Arms in Grimsby?
Next message Chris posted on Saturday, 17 December, 2005 - 01:45 pm

If there is a 'Skinners Arms' in Grimsby, then I've never heard of it. There may have been one in Elton John's day (whenever that was), but there certainly isn't a pub by that name here now. Or if there is, it's a closely guarded secret!

In case you're interested, or if you ever happen to be passing, there's The Wellington Arms (Freeman Street); The Smokers Arms (Albion Street); The Lloyds Arms (Victoria Street); and The Freeman Arms (Freeman Street, again). There is, of course, the obligatory Fisherman's Arms - but, amusingly enough, this is actually in Cleethorpes.

I've done a few gigs over the years in the Lloyds Arms (still a good rockers pub and not be be confused with the Lloyds No.1, which is one of the many huge, faceless chain-pub/bars that have recently sprung up at the river head. As far as traditional old pubs go, The Barge is still a good one (and, yes, it's exactly that, an old barge! Mainly frequented by students and goths and the first pub I ever drank in!), as is Ye Olde Musician, which is decked out, predictably, in rock memorabilia, etc...

I can't help feeling that Bernie Taupin must have been having a laugh when he wrote 'Oh, oh Grimsby' (did he write it?), as I've lived here, on and off, since 1974 and I have yet to come across the 'thousand delights' that the song alludes to. I've experienced a few delights in this town over the years (!), but, sadly, nowhere near a thousand. Maybe I've just been looking in the wrong places...?

In fact, the town was described to me (by one of my fellow students who, interestingly enough, came from Walsal!) as "The worst town I've ever been to". I'm not saying I agree, but I tend to think that any song extolling its virtues must have been written either as a joke or whilst under the influence of something! Having said that, Peoples Park, in the best residential area of the town, is a truly mystical place (especially very early in the morning) and is one of the nicest parks I think I have ever been in. So it's not all doom and gloom!


My landlord gave me a bottle of 'The Famous Grouse', finest Scotch Whisky when he came to pick up his rent money last weekend. Not being a Scotch connoisseur, I read the label and see that it is '...crafted from the finest malt whiskies, such as The Macallan (you're right!) and Highland Park. The Famous Grouse is proud to be Scotland's favourite whisky.' Obviously I can't possibly dispute such claims. I shall be taking the bottle round to a friend's house tonight, for a little pre-Christmas drink, and I shall let you know my thoughts, such as they are! Question is, shall I have a 'hauf' or a 'lood yin'? Any suggestions, gentlemen?
Next message Tim posted on Saturday, 17 December, 2005 - 08:47 pm
I'd always thought that Elton's 'Grimsby' was what passed for irony in 1974... you didn't move there because of the EJ song did you Chris? Lines about pie and peas (what, no fish?) suggest a lack of real connection with the place. But I do rememeber being very impressed by the song when he played it on OGWT with just his piano (the most that can be said for the recording is that it's one of the better songs on that album).

'Interestingly he came fom Walsall'. Well you wouldn't say interestingly he went back to Walsall would you. The most interesting thing about coming from Walsall is that is that in the local accent it sounds like you've come from Warsaw. Walsall doesn't have a park, it has The Arboretum, where every year they have illuminations, though they really don't have a mystical quality. It's also famous for leather goods (not that sort).

Residing in England's second city gives me reason to feel good about where I live (says he without a hint of irony...). There's a shiny new Bull Ring which compares very favourably with Cumbernauld Shopping Centre (that must be near where you live Bill). And it has a shiny statue of a bull named 'Bully' (major cause for civic pride). People say it's a long way from the sea but having travelled the 110 miles (four and half hours each way via the M5) to Weston I can't see that seaside's really an attraction. (Also I grew up near Morecambe where the tide came in and the sun shone at the same time in about 1972 but never since).

Sorry no Christmas booze this time, but I need a drink after that.
Next message Chris posted on Monday, 19 December, 2005 - 07:05 pm
No. We moved here in the summer of 74 (sure there's a song in there somewhere!) because Dad got the headship of a local secondary school. In case anyone's interested, or lives nearby, we moved here from Basingstoke. No jokes, please! I visited Basingstoke this year for the first time since 1999 - and I know where I'd rather live! Strangely enough, I have never actually heard Elton John's ode to Grimsby. But I'm sure it's never off Austin Mitchell's turntable...

Never been to Morecambe, but a very good friend of mine decided to commit suicide there in 2001. So, I suspect that a visit to his grave is on the cards for next year. Sorry to be so morbid. I'm reading a book at the moment (as I do from time to time!), called Thirst. It's one of those dreadful horror novels written by Guy N. Smith in the 1970s. This one concerns the water supply of Birmingham being contaminated by a deadly weedkiller that turns the population of the city into mad, slavering maniacs! Needless to say, it was conspicuously absent from the shortlist of Booker Prize contenders in 1980. Quite why I am reading it, I'm not entirely sure. A form of self-administered punishment for something, I guess. I'll let you know if it has a happy ending...
Next message Tim posted on Monday, 19 December, 2005 - 11:46 pm
I've just looked it up and the Booker Prize in 1980 was won by William Golding's 'Rites of Passage' so there was stiff competition that year. I expect the judges thought a book about the population of Birmingham being mad slavering maniacs was non-fiction anyway.

Chris, it sounds like your trip to Morecambe will also be something of a rite of passage, and be a sad one even by comparison with other people's trips there. On a sunny day with the tide in Morecambe looks quite attractive for a couple of hours - there's the statue of Eric Morecambe and the view across the bay to the Lakeland fells. When you go I hope you get that sort of day, rather than the clinging drizzle which I rememeber as the norm there. Anyway, best wishes for what sounds like a difficult visit.

Not many people have good words about Morecambe. Victoria Wood seems to keep silent about where she grew up, and Noel Edmonds should have a tale to tell about the Mr Blobby theme park (now gone, along with some disgraced council officials). Thora Hird said a lot of nice things, and Paul Theroux found a couple of good sentences...

Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor had quite a lot of good things to say about Morecambe. After leaving school at 15 he played for the season in a band at a holiday camp there. Followed by the band on the QE2 and a decade working with Stephane Grapelli. His biography 'Kiss and Tell' is an enjoyable (and easy) read.

Morecambe's not too exciting musically - an annual punk festival, and the occasional decent vistor to the Platform, a stylish venue in the old railway station. I think local bands find a better scene in nearby Lancaster.

No booze and no Sky this time. Maybe next time.
Next message Bill D posted on Tuesday, 20 December, 2005 - 09:47 am
'The Famous Grouse' (known here simply as 'Grouse') is one of the better blended whiskies but it still ain't Macallan. :-)

However, if you want something excitingly different, try a 'trou Normand' ('Norman hole'), French slang for 'calva' or Calvados, a fiery but delicious cider brandy.
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 21 December, 2005 - 12:16 pm
Grouse isn't Macallan and it's not the real McCoy either. There are various suggestions about McCoy including that he was a Canadian whisky (or is that whiskey?) smuggler, or that it's a corruption of 'the real Mackay', an advertising slogan for whisky (now Whyte and Mackay). There are other suggestions, but all indicate the corruption is American.

Although Calvados sounds like a bathroom cleaner or a laxative, the Norman hole makes it sound a bit more enticing. But if I'm to make myself understood I'll need to know if its 'un' or 'une'. (If you get it wrong you don't even get served with an Entente Cordial).
Next message Bill D posted on Wednesday, 21 December, 2005 - 03:36 pm
It's «le Calvados», I think, but the 'trou' isn't as enticing as you think.

The fanciful idea is that Calvados aids the digestion (when you are full up) by burrowing a hole in the wall of your stomach, to make room!
Next message Tim posted on Wednesday, 21 December, 2005 - 05:33 pm
Next time in France I'll try 'le' but if all I get is a Gallic shrug I'll try 'la'. I guess the only truth in the folk-tale of how it works is the link between alcohol and gastro-intestinal ulcers... ;-(
Next message Bill D posted on Thursday, 22 December, 2005 - 11:47 am
Ulcers are caused by a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, and can be cured by antibiotics.

Little to do with diet or drink.
Next message Chris posted on Thursday, 22 December, 2005 - 09:52 pm
OK, folks. Seeing as how I'm heading south tomorrow for a few days, and seeing as how I might not be online until I get back, may I take this opportunity to wish all sky fans (especially those using this forum!) and all former members of sky (especially those using this forum!!) a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And a special Seasonal Greeting to Richard (wherever he may be!!) for keeping the site going for another year.

Whether you be celebrating with The Macallan, The Grouse, The Jack Daniels or the Jim Beam, may the Spirit of Christmas be with (in?) you!

It's been a pleasure using this forum over the past twelve months (many intriguing, informative and entertaining facts have come to light) and I look forward to doing so again in 2006. Thanks to everyone that I've corresponded with personally and via this message board. And let's keep our fingers crossed that there are more sky-related surprises in store (literally!) next year!

'Merry Christmas' etc... etc... etc...

Next message Tim  posted on Friday, 23 December, 2005 - 12:28 am
Well the search for the ultimate Sky drink has led us this far! Amazingly I can't find a single beer / lager / wine / whisky / whiskey / vermouth / gin / vodka / bourbon / cocktail just called Sky.

There's Red Sky Beer from St. Stan's brewery CA, and Alien Sky and Blue Sky cocktails. Blue Sky might be a possibility 'cept someone would want to call it Sky One and I said 'no thank you Mr Murdoch' a long time back. I'll save Isle of Skye whisky to toast the re-union of Ye Olde Skye Bande.

As to H. pylori (did I ever expect Helicobacter in my Christmas booze!!), six of us have contributed to this discussion. The statistical likelihood is that three of us are infected, but the probability is that none of us (a 48% chance that one of us) will ever get an ulcer. Alcohol intake is one possible explanation for why some people with these bacteria get ulcers, others don't.

Anyway that's a sobering thought. I'm spending Christmas at home, but now seems a good time to wish Merry Christmas to everyone. Having first posted on these Sky and JW fora (forums?) three months ago I've enjoyed the discussions and look forward to being back for more!
Next message Bill D posted on Friday, 23 December, 2005 - 11:50 am
So does alcohol help or hinder the ulcer?
Next message Tim posted on Friday, 23 December, 2005 - 12:42 pm
Certainly hinders in excess!! (Bill, if you to continue off-topic mail me - link above).

Moderate alcohol intake certainly has some health benefits. I saw Oz Clarke doing a live show recently - apparently the reason Californian red wines are so tasteless is that in the US people only buy them for their health benefits. He claims that when the benefits of 2 glasses of red wine per day were first trumpetted people used to go into the drugstore asking for Merlot.

All this stuff about red wine helps me spot some more Sky booze - 'Sister Rose' (with apologies to Steve Gray if it's not meant to be said roh-zay).
Next message Bill D posted on Friday, 23 December, 2005 - 03:50 pm
No, enough about ulcers! :-)

Also off-topic (but still on music), Neil Diamond's 'Cracklin' Rosie' was about a cheap pink wine, not a woman!
Next message Tim posted on Friday, 23 December, 2005 - 06:41 pm
Didn't know that about Neil Diamond, guess the red, red stuff was better quality. I went to see ND last summer - the woman sitting next to me (I don't mean Mrs T, on my other side) sang and tapped along with everything. To give her her due, she knew all the words, though I doubt ND would have been flattered that someone with no awareness of pitch or rhythm was a fan of his music. (Or maybe he's used to it.)

Was Don Partridge's 'Rosie' a woman? When I lived in Leicester in the '80s I used to see him busking regularly (I think he lived in Hinckley) but I never heard him singing his hit.

Having been to the supermarket today you're right - ulcers had better wait. ;-)
Next message Bill D posted on Saturday, 24 December, 2005 - 01:48 am
UB40 got their version of 'Red, Red Wine' from Tony Tribe's reggae version. ND liked UB40's so much that he rearranged his performances to be more like theirs.

I tried to get to see ND in Glasgow but his three gigs were all sold out almost as soon as they were advertised. (And Elton John had spare seats at his single night, around the same time!)

Don Partridge's 'Rosie' is hard to come by. It's only available on a few CDs (e.g., Don's 'Rosie and other hits'; 'Super 60s') The latter is a compilation on Virgin which is (surprisingly) not available from Virgin! I have just ordered it from It includes 'Melting Pot' by Blue Mink, featuring a certain well-known bass-player.

Considering that Don Partridge seems to be considered obscure these days, it amazing that HMV's web site adds (after the title of the 2CD set) "Includes Rosie By Don Partridge".

The elusive Don did a tour earlier this year and I found this on
"Now, after more than thirty years of travelling, kept alive by busking and selling books of poetry, Don is back in the music business. His album includes songs which allow us a glimpse into the life of this remarkable man who is surely the undisputed "King of the Buskers". Don now divides his time between writing music, working on an autobiographical film and busking around the coastal towns of Sussex. He lives in Seaford."

The Sky connection (discussed here before) is that Richard Durrant produced Don's 2001 album ('The Highwayman') and Herbie Flowers played bass on it.
Next message Tim posted on Saturday, 24 December, 2005 - 04:43 pm
I'd seen Don Partridge's name in some of the old discussions and noted the Sky connection.

I guess the reason you can't Virgin CDs in a Virgin store is that the Virgin group sold off their record label and it's catalogue to EMI. Virgin in name only as it were.... Their current recording label is V2.

If you take a look at you'll see the current range of companies includes Virgin Brides, which sells wedding dresses not Thai and Filipino marriage partners.

Christmas cheer to one and all!
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