Current newsletter

February Meeting

A look back in time as Cathy presented a number of short film clips from the 1930s. My - did they really speak like thet? It's a perishin' wonder that anyone could understend them don't you know? Intriguing was the "social interaction" between the poor newly recruited youngster for the GPO messaging service and some of the "old timers" (lads in their late teens) who had been long employed by the organisation. "Ere shrimp - move ovah!" as they unceremoniously clipped him round the ear for sitting in the "wrong" place. Just another normal day as they wummed their hends in front orv the raging fhar. I think the liberal thought police might have a thing or two to say about that these days! Also, highly astonishing, was the sheer lack of health and safety considerations. Seeing men risking life and limb climbing sheer and slippery rock faces just to connect telephone wires for the Isle of Man TT races came as something of a shock! What I couldn't fathom was that radio had been in existence for forty years prior to these scenes - yet here they were... Life was cheap perhaps?

Anyway, it was a highly enjoyable evening - and very illuminating! Thanks Cathy - I hadn't seen these clips before but I must say I found what I had presumed to be fairly "dry" material to be freshingly interesting. It was as if one was looking at a bygone era through contemporary eyes.

Grape Varieties of the World


The Tannat has become the national grape variety of Uruguay. This country looks small on a map - but in area it is about the size of the UK! Originally from France, the Tannat was imported into Argentina and Uruguay by Basque settlers. As its name implies, the grape has fairly high tannin levels and blending with Cabernet Franc was the order of the day in its native home - to soften its astringency. In Uruguay the Tannat has been tamed and newer vines produce much less tannin, more alcohol, less acidity and more complex fruit characteris-tics. The wines from these new clones are quite blackberryish in nature. It is very likely that the Tannat will, in future, be seen as "Uruguayan" and that its connection to its distant Basque country origin will slowly fade away.


If Dame Sally's Concerned It MUST Good!


Some people just get on with it. Other people see it as their God-given right to tell other people how to lead their lives. Thanks to Bob for supplying me with this latest missive from Nanny (Mail 2 January). According to the dutiful dame "drinkers should stay off alcohol at least two days a week". She is also likely to issue guidelines saying men should drink "no more than a pint and a half a day". This comes from the woman who admitted that the current "unit intake" figures were completely guessed at, and that zero scientific rationale supported their suggested limits. Of course no rational person wouldn't argue that excessive alcohol is bad for you but what's excessive Sally? I'd like to think that free-thinking adults can make their own minds up without the carping, holier-than-thou, playground sneak "I'm going to tell SIR about you" campaigners intent on making your four score years and ten as miserable as theirs. It's enough to drive a man to drink! It would appear that they've hit upon the "obesity epidemic" to peddle their latest tales of woe and grief. Apparently, five pints of 4% abv beer is equivalent to three hamburgers. Shock horror! Eating too many hamburgers makes you fat! Moderation Sally. Moderation. That's the ticket! Now can you leave us morons to live our lives without your patronising input?


Poems and Pints


Next month sees the return, after two years, of this popular event. Hosted by the genial and affable Gerald, who's wit and humour know no bounds, the evening gives every member a chance to garner the spotlight and amaze the audience! The choice is up to you. If you want to make Gerald's task of organising this as fruitful and painless as possible, I'm sure he'd appreciate some advance notice. Even so, ever the gentleman, Gerald says this is not necessary - just turn up with a contribution and he'll take it from there.



Vive La Difference!


A friend passed on the "London Drinker" and an article just leaped off the pages for me! I have always been a great fan of Belgian beer - its warmth and fruitiness and shockingly, even terrifyingly, high alcoholic strength remained hidden during the glugging session. It's only when one tries to stand... Now the gist of this article is that we should have much to be grateful for in young people dismissing received wisdom and seeking new ways to create better things. Old is not always best. Old is simply old. Just because "it's always been done this way" is no excuse for not experimenting further. That, surely, is the cornerstone of all the progress made by our species in the short time that we've inherited the Earth? The writer makes the comment that we have a much greater availability of hops and malts than at any time in our history. Sure, the clouding of historical definitions of beer is possible with the new craft beers - but so what? If it makes an inter-esting and enjoy-able drink then so much the better. He writes about 'Saison' a beer that was made for quaffing by sea-sonal agricultural workers (hey Sally - their daily ration was 5 li-tres!). Saison was made during the colder months when airborne yeasts of the Brettanomyces family (responsi-ble for the sour-ness in Kriek and other Lambic beers) were less active. The beer was kept for a year - until the following season in fact. It was only about 3% abv so the farm workers weren't falling over and giggling wildly when they were supposed to be working. Nowadays, Saison is around 7% abv, more highly hopped and often flavoured with herbs and spices. It may also be deliberately brewed with Brettanomyces to give that refreshing sourness of the traditional Lambic. Here's the author's final comment: "is it acceptable to alter definitions to this extent? I'd say why not, unless we lose sight of the original. Long live the difference!".



Annual Dinner - 2017

Les has been busy! He has rescued the club from what promised to be in insurmountable debacle bought on by the perilously out-of-touch college authorities who's ineptitude and grandiose ideas killed off our annual dinner for February. Watch this space - far from becoming the "best restaurant in Tonbridge" the Artisan (what an utterly pretentious name) is destined for ignominy as customers understandably shun the place. Anyway, I didn't set out to sling venomous opprobrium - I set out to deliver the good news! Les has got us an excellent deal at the Rose and Crown! The booking has been confirmed as Friday April 21. The menu is attached and Les would be very grateful for your menu choices in the usual way. The cost will be £28.00 per head to include a tip. There is SO much to be grateful for: we are no longer limited to a 10.00 p.m. exit time, there will be a handy bar and the venue is more central so most members will be much better placed transport wise. I am sure the club will join with me in thanking Les for the incredible amount of work and effort he has put in on our behalf - thanks Les!




French Fancy


Did you know that France hardly produces any home-grown frogs. Most of the frogs legs consumed in France are imported from China. Now, it seems the French will be importing Chinese expertise in wine tasting too. Recently, China took another step closer to becoming a wine superpower after a team of wine-tasters beat the French at their own game at an international competition in Provence. Last year, the Chinese team were ranked 13th. This year they won it! Of the 21 nationalities represented, France came second, the USA third and Blighty ... er ... eleventh. The task was hard! The teams had to sample six white and six red wines without seeing their labels, and then try to identify the wines' countries of origin, the grape variety used, their appellations and their vintages. Tipped to win were the Spanish and the Belgians but these could only manage fourth and tenth places respectively. The Chinese victory is a boost to the country's rapidly growing wine industry. The Chinese now boast the second largest area of vineyards after Spain with 799,000 hectares dedicated to growing grapes.





Now You See Me Now You Don't



Just got back from a sixty mile trip at night. There's a new phenomenon on the road: blinking in the distance (yes - blinking) there's a high intensity LED coming straight at me! Eyes attempt to focus but it goes, then it come back, then it goes... Oh my! Here I am, in charge of a ton-and-a-half of deadly high energy material yet I cannot focus clearly because my night vision has been severely compromised in no uncertain terms. How odd that news items on TV are often preceded by a warning that the "following scene contains flashing images". What's the reason for this? My guess is that flashing lights induce unwelcome physiological symptoms in receptive people. What if such a person were driving a car? I contacted our MP Tom Tuggendhat about it. After a few weeks I got a reply. He'd put the matter to the relevant department who replied "the lights are limited to a flashing rate of 4 Hz and that studies have shown this to be safe". "Consequently, we will not be amending the regulations". 4 Hz? Wow - I've seen them flashing at a much higher frequency than this! Also, what's the flashing rate of a camera? And please don't tell me that cyclists don't go round in packs of a dozen or more!


Competition Results




  • Dry: 1st Les Maskrey; 2nd Cathy Rishman; 3rd Bob Dye

  • Medium: 1st Les Maskrey; 2nd Tom Rix; 3rd Bob Dye

  • Sweet: 1st Les Maskrey; 2nd Bob Dye; 3rd Tom Rix

    Thanks to the judges Les Bates and Bert Scott







Poems And Pints - Refreshments

After an exhausting bout of reading you're bound to feel thirsty! Similarly, the audience will be in need of a bevvy or two. At the committee meeting we discussed the possible options. I think we felt that club members don't really have much enthusiasm for beer so, if you want to drink wine, cider or whatever, could you please bring your own? As to the ardent beer lovers, Les will be buying some in. He has made some but he thinks it is a little lively - in his own words: "a bit over-primed". As he observes: "that won't go down too well the people in the front row!". Go on Les - bring it along - you can always open it in the Vauxhall room!




Write a new comment: (Click here)
Characters left: 160
DONE Sending...
See all comments

| Reply

Latest comments

24.08 | 12:34

I have a white grape vine with over 100 bunches on it - I no longer make wine - would anyone like to come and pick them otherwise they will be wasted.

24.08 | 12:22

I have a white wine grape vihich has over 100 bunches on it - I no longer make wine. I live in Orpington - is anyone interested in having these grapes? I

24.07 | 10:19

23.07 | 20:31

whats your email address?

You liked this page