Friday, 27 January 2012

Of Prime Ministers and pubs and Catherine of Aragon

John Major talked of warm beer — along with cricket, green suburbs and dog lovers — in a much-mocked 1993 speech on the characteristics that defined Britain. How odd that he omitted pubs from the list.

Caterine la Fidele, or Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, gave her name to every pub called the Cat & Fiddle. I didn't know this - a charming relic of Catholic England -or about the Marquess of Granby. Though the books on my father’s shelves would have told me. I did  know that the Goat and Compasses – where is that pub? – was a corruption of the Cromwellian pub name ‘God encompasseth us’. Even if they did not love cakes and ale the puritans were not teetotallers. That came much later.

Were John Major or any of our Prime Ministers pub-lovers? I can't imagine it. Maybe Wellington but I doubt it.

David Cameron was pictured unconvincingly in a pub during the elction – looking as uncomfortable as Margaret Thatcher holding that lamb in 1979 or Harold Macmillan sitting in a new built council house when he was Minister of Housing. Anthony Blair took French PM Lionel Jospin to the Dun Cow in Sedgefield, County Durham in 1998 and US President George Bush in 2003 but I am not convinced he went in for a quick one very often. Can you imagine Salisbury or Heath in the pub? John Wilkes or Boris yes but Boris will not be PM nor was Wilkes. Ditto Charles James Fox and George Brown.

1 comment:


    Not sure about Ted - if the above link doesn't work, try the Plough at Cadsden website
    No doubt you are right about Salisbury, but the famous late Victorian pub in St Martin's Lane that bears his name was built on land leased from him.
    Alexander Hermon