Rocking Around The Cock in Chesham

Day 13 cntd (Sept 19th 2009)

The Cock (Chesham) 3 x ½ Courage Best £4.50

The Gang, Ready to Rock and Roll in Chesham

Moving on from the Sugar Loaf we hit our first Terminus of the day when we arrived in Chesham. As we wandered along the bustling High Street of a Buckinghamshire market town surrounded by smiling ladies, Keith and I couldn’t help but notice how unlike most of the rest of the marathon this situation was.

After a minor wobble where we had revert back to some pacing out of distances from the station, we decided that The Cock was undoubtedly the closest boozer and therefore was our immediate destination.

My first thought as we entered was that somebody had stolen all the furniture, although the landlord didn’t seem too concerned. Perhaps he knew who had stolen it.  Then we noticed the speaker stacks that were still in one corner of the room and realised that it had obviously been cleared out so that the crowds had space to rock out to whatever marvellous band had played here the night before (turned out they were called The Stratospheres, and the landlord claimed they were awesome).

Otherwise it was a fairly traditional pub, not huge, and not a wildly exciting range of beer.  They had a couple of handpumps on including some Courage Best which was in reasonable, if not outstanding, condition. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I guess, because it was still early. The rest of the pub looked like it could do with a little bit of care and attention – you could certainly describe it as “frayed around the edges”.  Mairead was clearly not impressed with the toilets (she only shook her head sadly when she came out, as I don’t think she could bring herself to speak about it), and my wife noticed that they had the same light bulb/ceiling fan combo that had sat in our kitchen for the thirty years or so before our purchase of the house.

Sue, in the meantime, had been spending time chatting to the landlord, who we were assured was a lovely bloke, and then had picked up the pub’s copy of the Daily Star and decipher everybody’s horoscopes. Unfortunately I can’t remember most of the fantastical nonsense that followed – other than apparently Sue herself was destined to meet someone new (possibly in a ticket queue), and Gareth was very likely going to get lucky with my wife. Watch it, mate.

As we left The Cock, someone secured our entertainment for the next ten minutes or so when they discovered The Stratospheres’ set list. I immediately and selflessly nominated myself to lead the word game where I tried to describe the songs to the ladies and they had to guess the titles. 

We were still not sure if the band themselves were any good, but by God they threw everything but the kitchen sink into their set list, ranging from The Kinks, to Hendrix, The Kings of Leon to The Automatic, The Strokes to the Rolling Stones and even a bit of Steppenwolf as their encore.  It made it a tricky task for me not helped by the fact that my clues were amateurish at best (downright stupid at worst), and some of the answers were…….let’s just say a bit random. I won’t name names, because that would be rude:

“It’s a Police song. If you were stuck on a desert island, what would you send?”

“Is it Don’t Stand So Close to Me?”

and

“This one was by Eagle Eye Cherry a few years back. Er….if you weren’t going to spend any money this evening what would you be doing?”

“Being Tight?”

Even more embarrassing than this was my attempt to describe “All Along the Watchtower” using clumsy analogies with German prison guards, but nevertheless, we got there in the end, and the game was finished off with the ladies singing a rousing chorus of “Born to Be Wild” to fit in with the original encore. Get your motor running…..

INTERLUDE: Essential Pub Conversations Number 16 – What Would You Do if You Started Your Own Dream Business Right Now?

Keith was already starting to develop a visible twitch as he listened to the lady folk discuss their ideas for essential pub conversations for the day – Top Ten Silver Foxes, Top Ten Chick Flicks, and so on – I think I actually heard him whimper when someone suggested talking about the Top Ten Songs to Play After You’ve Been Dumped.

Eventually we settled on a slightly more highbrow topic than we were used to – dead rock stars, best rugby players, pointless film remakes and the like – but still accessible enough for all at this point.

The question was, taking away constraints of time, capital and geography, if you were to drop out of the corporate rat race and start your own small business, what would it be? The answers were varied and insightful and in one case probably illegal:

Sue:  A Combined Coffee and Curiosity Shop – apparently so that she could see all her friends for coffee on the one hand, and also try and sell some of the “vast amounts of crap” that she buys at Auction Houses!

Andre: An exclusive boutique hotel – “on a beautiful island somewhere”. “Canvey Island?” said Keith, rather uncharitably.

Trina: A PADI Dive Centre – preferably on a small Indonesian Island, proper paradise style.

Liz: A Chain of Special Needs Care Homes – “So that I can look after all of my old friends” (Apparently a later conversation on this subject led the ladies to agree that this was a great idea, as long as the homes were staffed by young men in gold hotpants.)

Denise: No Definite Answer – “Well, as a Zen Business Analyst it’s against my morals and ethos to get too heavily entrenched with these sort of ambitions. Or is that just a load of bollocks?”

Mairead: A Country Restaurant – “Swanning around as front of house, whilst the hubby slaves away in the kitchen”

Gareth: “Find a mate who’s really clever, wait for him to develop a fantastic software idea, then nick it and sell it.  Or, failing that, I’d run a cat farm.”

KL and JW: A Chain of Pubs, of course – preferably a chain of about 270 pubs in spitting distance of London stations, but serving decent beer in a nice atmosphere.

If this marathon so far had taught us anything, it was that the last one really is an impossible dream. Pubs with good beer and comfortable surroundings? Near stations? Are you mad?

The Boot and Slipper (Amersham) 3 x ½ Hobgoblin £4.35

The Lewis Brothers Play it Cool at The Boot and Slipper

By the time we got back to Chalfont and Latimer it was clear that the girls were getting peckish, and that they also needed to crack on because reinforcements were likely to be arriving soon (which was making the boys feel slightly apprehensive if we’re honest). So we took the decision to temporarily separate – the ladies would head on towards London, whilst myself, Keith and Gareth (who had already been christened Greta, apparently because he was an honorary girl for the day, poor sod) would head out to Amersham, where we knew a long walk awaited us.

This would give the ladies the chance to sit down and grab a bite to eat whilst we caught them up, and then we could all meet the newcomers together. A solid plan.

Highly amusing, and completely unsurprising, was the fact that as soon as the three lads were on the next train and free from female company, our conversations immediately went to the polar opposite of the girls’ suggestions. “Who are the greatest warriors of all time?” for example, or “Who are history’s greatest leaders/most powerful dictators?” and much debate about Spartans vs. Spetznatz, and Churchill vs. Kim Jong Il ensued (not the real Kim Jong Il, I argued – the brilliant one off Team America with the speech impediment).

Eventually, having walked what felt like several miles across Amersham, we arrived at The Boot and Slipper, a big Chef and Brewer pub situated by the side of a mini roundabout. It was set up in the usual way for this chain – lots of wooden beams with old, dried hop plants hanging off, dark wood tables, a big beer garden out back, 6 real ale handpumps and a simple but decent menu.

We were served by Brett, who displayed all the lightning speed of continental drift as he served us our Hobgoblin. The beer in Chef and Brewer pubs is usually in pretty good condition, and thankfully this one was no exception. Not too expensive either, which was good to see.

When we saw the posters advertising a hog roast and live music from 8.30, we were getting more and more seduced into staying in this corner of Buckinghamshire, but alas they blew it all by advertising Christmas Party Bookings. The rule should be – absolutely forbidden to advertise Christmas whilst the sun is shining and the temperature is above 20 degrees.

Time to leave then – we drained our glasses and started on the long walk back to Amersham station, arguing all the while as to whether Ninjas were harder than the SAS, or whether Martin Johnson was a greater leader than Optimus Prime.

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