Wenlock and Mandeville

First posting in well over a week…the election must have used up all my blogging energy…but what has happened in the intervening time. Well, last week the Olympics organisers (whoever they are) unveiled their teletubby style mascots who we’ll no doubt get heartily sick of by 2012. I was intrigued by their names — and one seems to have a good real ale pedigree.

Wenlock is one of the duo and I wondered whether his/her/its naming was anything to do with the famous Wenlock Arms — a famous CAMRA haunt and archetypical back-street boozer within which lurks a row of tempting handpumps. The Beer In The Evening reviews of the place have been quite mixed recently. There seems to be a general consensus that standards have declined in certain areas but whether this detracts from the beer drinking experience seems a moot point. I’m somewhat ambivalent. The beer I’ve had there has been pretty good and the place is pretty dog-eared but I’ve never had any trouble in there — although I’ve only tended to visit when it’s been quiet.

I guess the Wenlock Arms says a lot about CAMRA. It’s the holy grail to many CAMRA die-hards: no-nonsense, warts-and-all boozer with no pretensions except to serve good beer. On the other hand, many of the people that CAMRA is trying to broaden its appeal to reach will be mystified at its attraction. I don’t want to appear sexist but it’s probably not controversial to say that women tend to notice aspects like cleanliness and decor more than men do (especially CAMRA type men) and aspects such as the state of the toilets are of more than marginal importance. I’ve obviously not been in the ladies at the Wenlock and the gents have always seemed tolerable to me but some of the BITE comments are not favourable to the Wenlock in this department.

As an aside, the gents in the newly refurbished George and Dragon in Princes Risborough are some of the most impressive I’ve seen — the whole refurbishment is pretty good but often when pubs are done up the budget seems to not to stretch to the toilets. There’s even a poster in there advertising a whisky branded by a long-lost brewery in my hometown of Rochdale.

Rochdale and Manor Whisky
Rochdale and Manor Whisky

The other Olympic mascot is curiously named Mandeville — after Stoke Mandeville — a village that’s lucky enough to have three pubs including the remarkably quickly rebuilt Woolpack gastrohouse and the splendidly traditional Bull.

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