Friday, April 19, 2013

Area 51

How often have I said I need an editor?

Moving on...

The wife and I were talking this morning about how easy it was to get a council house back in the 1960s and 70s:
"Hello, I'd like a council house, please."
"Certainly sir, how many bedrooms?"
"I'll just see if we have what you require in the warehouse. Please take a seat, my secretary will make you all hot drinks, cook you lunch and perform sex acts on you for free."
"Thank you, most kind."

And one thing led to another and we got talking about the house we lived in over in Wellingborough.

That house stopped being a council house in 1936. Ten years after it was built, the council sold it, for £700...

We both looked at each other.

A quick internet search (not that quick because you have to go through pages of current houses for sale) you discover that the sale of council houses was quite common during the period between 1919 and the mid 1930s...

Whose idea was it to sell off council houses again?

So, I spoke to a friend who knows a thing or two about council houses and he said:
It's been going on almost for as long as there have been council houses. Councils always had the power to sell their houses, and to provide cheap mortgages if a tenant asked. That only changed in 1980 when Thatcher's Housing Act - the only bill she ever introduced that wasn't either changed beyond recognition or completely abandoned - made it a legal obligation to sell, while at the same time abolishing cheap council-granted mortgages (so you had to get one from the banks) and taking away the council's powers to reinvest the money from the sale into new housing stock. Just another good reason why she's dead. 
But, let's move on shall we...

So anyhow, 51. Which means I have always been 15 years younger than David Bowie which doesn't seem that much now, really. That also means I'm 15 years younger than Felicity Kendal, who I had such a massive crush on when I was a kid (and older). She looks like a well dried lizard now, which is a shame because when she was young, she had the most marvellous little pair of...

Again, let us move to a safer plateau. 

Beer. I had a couple of pints of Summer Lightning last night. Nothing unusual there you'd think, except once upon a time this was the holy grail of beers - the game changer - the beer that paved the way at least two old gits viewed the modern pub.

Roger and I, along with a few other, more transient, souls, have always liked pubs and good beer plays a massive part in that. At some point in the past, we used to drink rubbish. We have semi-fond memories of this rubbish, but, you know, keg beer has its place and that's in a working men's club in Doncaster, where all the proper, Thatcher-hating, socialists come from. Roger and I originally drank Ben Truman and then during a large part of the 1990s would drink just about anything that came from below a hand pump. I think it would be fair to say we did not have discerning pallets back then.

I know I spent most of the 1990s out of my head, therefore I can't remember that much about the beer I drank. I think I used to drink things like Marstons Pedigree, London Pride, Everards Tiger and, horror of horrors, Greene King and Charles Wells beers, because I did not know any better. Then Summer Lightning came along and it was a little like putting a Rolls Royce next to a 1960s invalid carriage with a flat tyre - there was just no comparison. The only thing that linked Hop Back's beautiful golden yellow beer and other brown watery substances was the fact they both had the description 'beer' attached to them.

However, the benchmark was set so high that it changed the entire drinking habits of Roger and especially me. Most of these light coloured beers were wonderful and we literally discarded maltier, more traditional beers in favour of anything that was blonde or straw, or pale or ... the colour of lager. This meant that we stopped going to pubs that sold boring beer and started trying to find pubs that specialised in choice. 

Eventually Hop Back sold out and became a PLC; the price of their success was more money and arguably an inferior product. Roger and I discovered breweries such as Newby Wyke, Brewsters and the almost God-like Oakham and these didn't just replace Summer Lightning, they left it trailing in their citrussy wake. So, turning up at the Adelaide last night, for the first time in weeks, it was like seeing a bunch of old friends - Paul and Krystyna; the wonderfully eccentric (and gorgeous) Harriet and that beer that neither of us have had for getting on for 3 years. And it was nice and really really fresh and well kept and I could see why it had such a profound effect on us both 20 years ago. It was also a great beer for my birthday pint. But, and you knew there was a 'but' coming, there's just a plethora of better beers out there now and I gauge this by the fact that I've been to quite a few beer festivals over the last ten years and I rarely, if ever, have Summer Lightning if there are others available.

Still, it's my birthday I'm allowed to talk about whatever I want.

My knee is still knackered, although I have been chastised for Internet diagnosing it, even if there's very little that can actually go wrong with your knee, you just know that you'll end up diagnosing knee cancer and I'd rather not know about that possibility.

Actually, it looks like a meniscus problem (and feels like it, too) and the cheap ibuprofen gel the wife bought from the pound shop has been a revelation. I am walking almost like a human being again (albeit a human being who has shit himself...).

We came second at the quiz on Wednesday. You would have thought we'd won. Never has a defeated team looked so relieved.

I was wondering if it was still fair to refer to the Lithuanians as the Sexually-Explicit family in light of the fact there has been little or no exhibitionist activity since the initial burst of ... ahem, stuff that both me and Fishwife's wife had seen on occasion. Anyhow, they're really just the Lithuanian family now, surely? Just to be really (arguably not) sexist for a second, Mrs Lithuanian does have a body to die for but a face like a bulldog licking piss from a nettle. She is the kind of woman that grows exponentially more attractive the further away she gets. I think they can be Mr & Mrs Lithuanian from now on, especially as I have to invent some secret codename for the new neighbours who are moving into the dead old man's house - who knows, they might parade around the house at night, with no net curtains, sporting all manner of erect things and have no shame at all.

The only other thing to note from the street that I haven't mentioned is the recent retirement of Mr Incest Couple. His day appears now to be leave house at 2.15, walk to the Spinney Hill pub and stagger home at whatever time he's confident he isn't going to shit himself in transit. However, with at least three pubs closer to where we live than the one he's going to and knowing that he, like me, is particular about his ale, it makes me wonder if the Spinney has maybe got its act together, either that or he has another sister...

Still, tomorrow is another day. I might cheer up. I'm 51 now and that just seems wrong.

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