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Brick Walls & Vimto
by Kit Chapman

An illustration of times past, when drinking in the country Pub meant just that. When father and son built a relationship, not learned at mother's knee.

 


Cast your mind back, if you're old enough, and see if you can remember this scenario. It could be anywhere in the country and it lasted some forty years, from the nineteen twenties to the mid sixties.

 

Just before six o' clock on a warm summer's evening, usually at the weekend, when insects are high on the wing, chased by swallows and swifts, and the distant sound of farm tractors wending their way home is faintly discernable. The time of day when the delicious fragrance of pasture and meadow flowers in full bloom bestow the bouquets that the sun's rays and warmth had nurtured during the day.

 

Now picture the Country Pub, stone clad, ivy covered and an inviting red glow emanating from leaded windows. The front door is unlocked from the inside and gently propped open by a kindly, ruddy faced and somewhat portly gentleman of some fifty odd years.

 

Suddenly the first car arrives. Inside, the driver staring fixedly ahead, pulls up sharply between some roughly drawn white lines as close as possible to the now open front door, with the bonnet pointing at a brick wall. The passenger, a petrified boy of perhaps ten years unfolds his hands from his panic-stricken eyes and stares at the wall. The driver, obviously the thirsty father, turns the engine off, smoothes his hair into a semblance of respectability and alights with some alacrity. He is oblivious of the cigarette ash cascading down his sports jacket and rumpled flannel trousers as he makes a beeline for the open front door. With a series of judders the overwrought engine eventually shudders to a standstill. From under the bonnet a faint wisp of steam escapes, accompanied by various ticks and the aroma of hot oil as it drips gently from assorted vents in the engine onto the car park.

 

Within a few minutes other cars arrive, all roughly in the same manner and all parked as close as possible to the pub door for quick access with freaked out sons and the occasional daughter. Very rarely do they contain the mothers of these children at this early doors time. These family groups role up later, with much more decorum.

 

Usually it takes about fifteen minutes for the first Vimto and straw to emerge, carried by a much less stressed father. The handing over of the said victuals is always accompanied by the immortal words, 'Won't be long.' It's a fallacious statement, both parties know it, but it's mandatory nevertheless.

 

As time goes on the lad gets bored, remember there were no car radios, let alone Play Stations in those days. He has studied the wall and determined the number of bricks or stones that fill the windscreen. He has accounted, with as much knowledge as he can muster, the types of vegetation that the wall sustains and dug as much gunge out of his nose as is humanly possible.

 

By the time the next Vimto arrives, father is so full of sweetness and light, bonhomie and half full of best bitter that a bag of crisps may also be on the menu. The aforementioned words are again muttered and back goes father to continue his replenishment.

 

The lad now knows that it's safe to move over into the driver's seat and enter the world of Stirling Moss and Silverstone. The seat is adjusted, the rear view mirror, if there is one, is tilted downwards and throaty rasps start emanating through pursed lips until the sound of a Ferrari's highly tuned engine is judged to be just the ticket. The clutch is depressed, first gear engaged, the cheeks nearly burst with compressed air and the race starter drops the flag.

 

Foot flat down on the accelerator, the lips convulse with paroxysms of vibration and floods of half digested Vimto cover the windscreen. The steering wheel is wrenched from lock to lock as the gear stick is forced into gears that it wasn't designed for and a scream is unleashed from the very same vocal cords denoting the screeching of tyres as each corner is encountered. Feet are stabbing at pedals like a demented tap dancer as double de clutching manoeuvres are executed whilst death defying four wheel drifts through Woodcote corner are fought with the expertise that only a ten year old lad knows. And he knows them because he's learnt them from his father on the way home…but more of that later.

 

If the casual observer had cared to look around any pub car park at this time of the evening they would see little hands wrestling with steering wheels whilst a cacophony of disgusting noise rents the countryside.

 

 

 

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