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Last week it was announced that John Gray, the former editor of PubSpeak and current editor of InnSpeak, died at the age of 74. *There had been rumours of his illness for a while, and it appeared that something was not right when you looked at recent issues of InnSpeak when compared to ones from a couple of years ago with thinner issues and less editorial. *Like this publication these were distributed throughout the pubs of Calderdale, so John was a familiar figure with pub landlords. *I only had minimal contact with him, but by reputation he was sometimes not the easiest person to get on with at times. *The story below seems to confirm that.
When I mentioned his death last week at one of my local pubs, I was told a story by one of the older regulars, John used to visit the same local pub each week and would bring along his girlfriend of the time having a drink or two while there while never paying for them by some agreement with the current landlord. *There was then a change of landlord, he came in as normal, and stood there, saying nothing. *A few minutes later he asks for a drink, barman asks what he wants and pours them and asks for the money. *At this point he tells the barman “I never pay for my drinks, don’t you know who I am, I’m John Gray from InnSpeak”, upon being told things have changed, he paid up begrudgingly, drank up and then left the pub and never came back again.
John was a respected figure in the Calderdale pub scene, and condolences go out to his family, while the future of InnSpeak looks uncertain at this time. *In other local news, Chris who was running the Red Rooster in Brighouse has now left the business of his own choice, having appeared to have burnt out. *Running a pub is ideally a two person affair given the late night / early morning nature of the job, that way you can split the work into early and late shifts between you. *Chris was burning both ends of the candle 6 days a week with only 1 proper day off a week (of his own admission) and eventually it caught up with him. *He introduced some excellent rotating beers to the pub and is responsible for myself becoming a regular there again with the installation of Magic Rock Curious as a house beer. *Good luck to him in the future, whatever he does. *New manager Theresa took over the place last weekend and may the good work continue under the new regime.
The handover of Lewins has been delayed a couple of weeks, but should be under the control of the new landlord by the time you read this or very soon after, with Jaqs and Graham already installed at the Sportsman in Halifax Town Centre. *You notice a pattern here, we are talking about the people behind the businesses, not the businesses itself. *The pub technically is “four walls and a roof with a piece of paper which says it can sell beer for consumption on the premises”. *As I’ve written before the landlord and staff makes all the difference to the venue, which live and die by the choice of personnel.
There used to be a pub opposite the bus station in Halifax called the Orange Tree which I used visit while waiting for bus home when I commuted by train. *At the time it was one of those pubs where, if you asked, pretty much anything could be acquired. **The pub had more than its fair share of dodgy characters, and while doing a decent lager, could not be commended for its ales. **The landlord was someone you would not mess with and the staff were equally able to enforce the expected behaviour standards. *More than once I was delayed from leaving due to a disagreement in the entrance passage. *However what sold the place as well as its proximity to my bus stop was that the landlord was always good for a chat and if you didn’t get on the wrong side of him was very friendly. **I spoke to his daughter a few years ago who used to work at a local pub and she confirmed my view.
I used to go to a very similar, but distinctly dodgier pub called the Mucky Duck in Rochdale near to where I used to climb where the phrase “I went in for a fight and a pint broke out” could be applied without any fear of prejudice. *However the staff and management were friendly and helpful despite a number of enforced closedowns. There were technically better pubs within 100 yards, but none were as friendly.
Happy supping whatever the venue until next week.