Beer Mat Collecting

Does anyone still take beer mat collecting seriously?  The answer is undoubtedly yes. I used to, though my quite healthy collection vanished before I moved to a new city (Preston).  I have picked up a hundred or so since moving. I have a long way to go to catch up with Guinness Book Of Records winner Leo Pisker in Austria who has 152,860 in his collection. There is a British society of Beer Mat Collectors and several auctioning websites dedicated to the pastime. 

Some of my beer mats

Tegestology, or beer mat collecting is the best known ‘breweriana’ hobby (collecting anything to do with pubs and brewing / distilling). My pub sign photo collecting is a form of Breweriana too.  

There is some debate online as to whether beer mats are coasters or not.  They certainly serve the same function, to collect liquid spilling from cups and glasses and bottles to help ease staining to tables and bar top services.  Coasters tend to be made of more durable re-usable wood or plastic or even metal, while drip mat-beer mats tend to be cardboard, and wear out after a few uses. In the US drinks are more often served with paper tissue soakers, which can be inadequate to the task at hand and can get stuck to table tops and require scraping off in bits when the surfaces are cleaned. 

Beer mats can carry advertising or public information. The breweries will promote their wares on the mats, or give ‘did you know’ factoids on pubs, beers and brewing history.  

Some mats offer details on local businesses, such as taxi services while others may offer police advice not to drink and drive.  Sadly, many beer mats promote gambling online and in betting shops, replacing one risk of addiction (alcoholism) with another (gambling). 

Knowing that beer mats can be seen as highly collectible, mats have sometimes been purposely promoted in limited collector’s editions. Some may be part of a set and pursued with similar gusto as Pokemon Cards. Some mat sets can form a jig-saw puzzle if put together in the right order. 

My collection, past and present was only ever whatever mats I stumbled on in pubs I have frequented.  I was rather disheartened at a beer festival to see traders exchanging mats and collectors buying them in packs by the score, and hundreds in one go. It seemed like cheating. 

More often than not collectors including myself just take an unstained mat from the pub table it has been placed on. This can make some publicans irate and it is polite to ask for a mat rather than just taking one. Some bar staff bar customers plundering mats. 

Another sacrilege is the use of beer mats as post-it notes, using them for scribbling phone numbers or to do lists or bits of poetry on. 

My tegestology is of an if it’s there I’ll add it to my stash approach rather than a dedicated pursuit approach (unlike my inn-sign obsession). I do have a few interesting mats, and it is great that the hobby endures to this day. Many pub walls are decorated in drip mats and I always enjoy looking through them to see which ones include beers and breweries I have experienced myself. 

Arthur Chappell 

Amazon Book Reccomendation Gaffe

Amazon often send me reccomended books to read next based on their files on me. Today they surpassed themselves and reccomended I read Watch The Signs! Watch The Signs! – I can see why I might appreciate it. I Wrote it.

Shows what the feature refers to
Book cover for Watch The Signs! Watch The Signs!

I find their tendency to bombard me with such now buy more from us messages over aggressive and obviously machine driven. Many rightly fear the rise of artificial intelligence. Amazon and other companies often use Artificial Lack Of Intelligence.

You can see the details on the book here, at the Shoreline Of Infinity publisher’s page. https://www.shorelineofinfinity.com/product/watch-the-signs-watch-the-signs/

Arthur Chappell

Beers Enjoyed in Kendal In September 2021

Robinson’s Wizard Ale (3.7%) **** Named in appreciation of the wizard legends of Alderley Edge, a fine light hoppy session ale with fruitiness from a touch of blackcurrant.  Enjoyed on draft in The White Hart Inn, Kendal. 

Inn Sign For Ye Olde Fleece, Kendal, Cumbria, taken by Arthur Chappell

Laine’s KendALE (4.% ABV) **** Brewed specially for Ye Olde Golden Fleece Inn in Kendal, light, golden with a lasting light head and pleasing gentle aftertaste sensation. Several breweries have used the KendAle pun in the names of beers sold in the Lake District. 

Arthur Chappell

Day Trip To Kendal 

On Thursday 23rd September 2021 I went on a day trip excursion by local coach (Walton’s Coach trips) from Preston to Kendal, in the Cumbrian Lake District, just an hour and half away (including the time taken to collect passengers at designated pick-up points on route).  

Peter Rabbit at the Beatrix Potter Shop, Kendal, taken by Arthur Chappell

We had just over four and a half hours to explore this lovely town, with great views of the Northern Pennine Mountains.  Kendal looks like a string of connected villages.  You think you have seen everything there is on offer and then you see a little street that opens up to a whole new set of delights.  There were handy map dispensers around the town offering handy guides to the town for a quid and many of the side streets list what shops and bars are down them so you know whether to venture through them or not. I wish other town planners were so considerate.

The shopping areas don’t have the cloned copycat look of many town and city centres. Some of the familiar stores are there but scattered around rather than clustered in a standard High Street arrangement. It’s the little tea rooms, antiquarian book shops, chocalateers, Kendal Mint Cake sellers and the Beatrix Potter shops that give Kendal its distinctive character. 

Laundry on the green – Kendal, taken by me.

There are some lovely unexpected sights like a village green where several neighbours have hung out their laundry to dry, giving a sense of communal fraternal support.  Workmen were standing ankle deep in the River Kent (which flows through the heart of the city), were working on bridge restoration.

Bridge workers in the River Kent in Kendal – taken by Arthur Chappell

There’s a quirky clock in Roman numerals on the Civic Centre.

Clock at The Civic Centre, Kendal, taken by me

People I spoke with were invariably lovely. I struggled to get away from a few very chatty people, (not that they were boring, but from my sense of need to get round as much as possible before catching the coach home at 4pm). I do like the Walton’s tour customers generally being very good at getting back to the coaches on time. I remember tours of the past and school trips where late returners delayed setting off by up to thirty minutes. 

It was good to be informed by a signpost just how far I was away from Mount Everest, and the town’s twin being Rinteln (Germany).

There are plenty of pubs in Kendal, (my main interest being for capturing photos of them). I called in two; The White Hart, and The Old Fleece Inn (the oldest pub in the town, dating from 1654), both with terrific service.  Certainly a town I’ll be happy to revisit any time. 

The White Hart Inn pub sign Kendal, taken by me

Arthur Chappell

Deliberate Use Of Trigger Words Is Bullying

The old saying ‘Sticks And Stones May break my bones but words will never hurt me’ never did run true.  Words can destroy us.  Many stories on magic are about earning names,  as words and labels give us power over others. 

Internet trolls have pushed their victims relentlessly into depression and even suicide, not through playground thrashings but through tweets, blog comments and public shaming, sometimes with pictures too, but often just with words, calcuated to ‘trigger’ insecurities, weight, appearances, and social status awareness issues, leaving the victime feeing ugly, overweight, unloved, unaccepted, threatened and vulnerable. 

Sometimes we trigger people unintentionally, genuinely unaware that we are hitting often justifiably sensitive nerves.  Others sadly set out quite maliciously and / or deliberately to trigger. I have even seen posts starting with the words ‘Let’s see who this triggers’, and similar phrases. In other words, the writer is setting out to upset people, stress people out and threaten their values – it is pure unadulterated shameless bullying and intimidation.  “I’m going to make someone sad or unhappy. I’m going to ruin someone’s mood and day, possibly even their life.” It’s absolutely nothing to be proud of. Threads of conversation get willfully diverted at tangents as others pile on the bandwagon, and the feelings of the people targeted are treated with indifference. 

Triggers are extremely dangerous.  After all, to pull a trigger is to release a bullet of invective, harsh crushing words, and someone is going to get hit and hurt. Triggering is not something anyone should do for fun. 

Bullies, outright racists, outright sexists, etc should be challenged.  Counter-triggering won’t do that. It just generates a back and forth of abusive insults that neither side gains from.  

People involved in serious controversial discourse and debate on issues ike abortion, Euthenasia, etc expect fierce counter-arguement but no one on either side should trigger or receive intentional personal mockery and abuse.   Some trigger happy commentators don’t even take aim and squeeze their triggers in their direction, preferring to point written / verbal missiles at someone for liking a particular TV show or film, or showing cat pictures. 

Some triggerists are no better than racists and the sexists – they want to ruin simple conversations, turning them into heated arguments and then trying to win them by browbeating and drowning out the original speaker / writer into silence, swatting people aside like they were shooing flies, thinking the loudest and last word wins.  The only one fighting the war is the one with his finger or tongue on the trigger, a thug getting off by causing upset. Quit triggering people on purpose you trolling pathetic cowards. 

Arthur Chappell

Vote For My Book – Watch The Signs Watch The Signs

My pub signs book Watch The Signs! Watch The Signs! is nominated in the TCK Reader’s Choice Awards Favourite General Non-Fiction category (page 5 on the voting lists).

Watch The Signs! Watch The Signs! book cover

I’d be delighted if you would vote for me. Voting is free and you don’t need to have read books you vote for. https://www.tckpublishing.com/2021-readers-choice-voting…/ You can of course order my book at https://www.shorelineofinfinity.com/…/watch-the-signs…/ Happy to sign copies if you see me.

The 10th Wigan Diggers Festival 

As with so many public events, this free public poetry, music and protest festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid Lockdown restrictions but this year (Saturday 11th September 2021) it bounced back as awesome as ever.  

I got to Wigan, in Greater Manchester early by train, (after a bus journey to Preston City Centre to catch it) to capture a few more pub signs for my collection including The Ukelele featuring a portrait of Wigan’s famous uke hero George Formby. 

The Ukelele pub sign, Wigan, taken by me.

There were a few other lovely unexpected sites too, including topiary gardeners, strangely apt given the festival celebrates Wigan born Digger, Gerrard Winstanley. 

Near the festival site there was an exhibition of military history too in support of our many heroic defenders. 

Army display, Wigan.

After a little shopping I headed for the Wiend district arena in Wigan town centre where the finishing touches were being put to the stage area. 

Some friends from Manchester came along, Martin, Melica, Bernard & Mary.  There was beer, poetry, food and great music, with performers including Joe Solo, Attila The Stockbroker and headliners, Merry Hell.   With my bus home from Preston leaving early (the last one going at 22.10 pm on Saturdays), I skipped the last twenty minutes of the show to head home without having to get a taxi. 

Atilla The Stockbroker – taken by Arthur Chappell

Thanks to my Manchester friends, and the various poetry circuit pals I got to chat to over the day, including stage comperes Gordonzola & Jeffrey Dawson.  It was my first meeting with friends outside my own locality after the Covid crisis and my own struggle with Bowel Cancer late last year. Everyone was wonderfully supportive. 

Beer clip for Prospect 1649 Ale – Arthur Chappell

Though cold for much of the day, it stayed dry and the atmosphere was tremendous, peaking with the arrival of former Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn who gave a stunning passionate speech in support of the event. 

Jeremy Corbyn at Wigan Diggers – Arthur Chappell

Hopefully there will be no horrible interruptions to prevent Diggers 11 going ahead in September 2022.  

Youtube – Performance at the festival by Lesley Dawson Heath https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2pVCF8_ngo 

Arthur Chappell

Defining The English Civil War Gets Controversial

Any writer who refers to the events of the English Civil War(s) runs into an immediate definitional controversy. Authors inevitably have to apologize for using a description of events that doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes. Many people will immediately and quite rightly remind the author calling the conflict ‘The English Civil War’ of the involvement of the Scots, and the Irish. It is often justifiably said that the English Civil War began and ended in Scotland. Many commentators prefer to call the events The Wars Of The Three Kingdoms, but even that forgets the fighting that went on in Wales. This was not a battle for Welsh identity – the fighting crossed the English-Welsh borders into predominantly Royalist Wales many times. Even the Channel Isles, Scillies, and Orkney Isles were embroiled in the conflict.  Charles 1st spent most of the second Civil War virtually under house arrest on the Isle of Wight.

Sealed Knot Re-Enactots on Parade – Taken by Frank Chappell

Europe had a major war ongoing in itself, The Thirty Years War ran parallel to much of the British conflict and some British mercenaries learned the fighting craft on the continent before coming home to engage in the struggles our own shores.  Europe watched our wars with growing dread, especially when the execution of our king sent ripples out over time that would lead to the downfall of several other European monarchies and increased Republican energies.  

The Great Rebellion is another alternative label for the conflict, though that can be confusing given that the troubles swamping Ireland at this time were known as The Great Irish Rebellion. The conflict has also been called the English (or British) Revolution, though it is uncertain how many of the people, and intellectuals understood how much of the King’s powers they would ultimately be taking – many Parliamentarians were shocked as it became apparent that Cromwell and his allies were going to go as far as the execution of the monarch and transformation of Britain into a republican state. The Scots and Irish were understandably shocked by the regicide, given that Charles was their King too. The decision to take the King’s head was made entirely in England. Cromwell is not likely to have had such an objective from the outset of hostilities. It was Charles’s initiation of the second Civil War / Rebellion / counter –revolution, etc that made many realize that any peace offerings he made were only superficial and that he would do anything he could from expedience to recover full power. His death was recognition that Charles could not be trusted not to start a fresh war at the earliest opportunity.

Me in my Civil War uniform – Taken by Frank Chappell

Another problem is created by using the word ‘War’ in a singular rather than plural (Wars) context. The full story of the period involves the two Anglo-Scots Bishops Wars, and the Irish Rebellion, and no less than three major cross border civil wars, broken apart by periods of peace. The Scots and Irish who came to fight on English soil did not see their involvement there as a Civil War, while the fighting on their own soil was a Civil War (always anything but Civil of course). Most of the events involved Charles 1st, while the last full scale war of the period involved the doomed attempts of Charles 2cd to reclaim his throne by force.

Dating the wars can be a definitional minefield too.  Many books see the ‘Civil War’ as running from the Raising of the King’s Standard or the Battle of Edgehill (both in 1642), and ending in 1649 with the Execution of Charles 1st. It is more realistic to date the conflicts (note the plural) from the Scottish Covenant documentations in 1637 and the end coming with the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.  The wars were not one continuous conflict and there were periods of relative peaceful calm, certainly between 1649 and 1651 and from after Charles II’s defeat at Worcester up to the peaceful return to office, though there were uprisings, riots and rebellions in all the kingdoms to disrupt that peace.   Many extend the conflict past 1660, through the troubles that ultimately brought down the Stuart monarchy, including The Monmouth Rebellion. In Scotland, the clan struggle that ruined Montrose’s efforts to lead a force of Highlanders South to help his King, continued to Culloden. In Ireland, Cromwell’s unforgivable attacks on Wexford & Drogheda have been seen as a root cause of the Troubles that went on to the time of the Provisional IRA.  

Another Sealed Knot Parade – Taken by Frank Chappell

Though many alternative labels exist, few are satisfactory the most common search engine or library category under which studies of the period are found is the English Civil War. Some studies do exclusively look at the English events, focusing on the key battles like Marston Moor and Naseby. The Scottish and Irish events are often relegated to brackets or footnotes. Great fighters like Montrose get little mention in some studies.  Worse, many books on the Scottish and / or Irish events do similar to the English elements of the struggles. A few authors do try to cover all the events in context, and from this emerges the War Of The Three Kingdoms label – Shorthand for The English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh Civil War.

I generally use the title English Civil War, for the express reason that it is the one under which most people looking up the subject will find this page, if not coming in from a related study. I realize that the definition is flawed, but I think all others are too. In a way, this essay will stand as my own footnote to the use of the English Civil War label in my work. It is because readers and listeners will then home in on exactly which era of history I am referring to. I can then quickly start to apologise for a label akin to click-bait by referring to  the other countries and peoples involved. 

Even the word ‘The’ can be challenged in suggesting there was only one Civil war on British soil.  The Wars Of The Roses were very much a (contradiction in terms oxymoron noted) ‘civil’ war, so was The Peasants Revolt and numerous other riots, skirmishes and uprisings.   

Certainly, modern historians still over-emphasise the ‘Englishness’ of the events. Christopher Hitchens referred to the ‘English Revolutions’ as late as 2006. The popular movies To Kill A King and Cromwell both fail to mention the countries outside England exist at all. Both films claim the fighting ended with the King’s defeat at Naseby. He actually fought on with that Civil War for some time afterwards, and later escaped for a second attempt.

Some truly learned historians can regard themselves as having the final authority on the subject as if ‘I have a book on the subject therefore I know’ ends all further debate, especially when non-professional commentators and thinkers dare raise the topic. David Starkey sees the historian’s duty as saving the past from those ‘dreadful re-enactors’. Fortunately history is fluid and as such, the defining, redefining, dialogue and discussion will never end, in elite academic circles and beyond.  I have had professional historians casually shout me down as ‘patronising’ for talking of the period as brutally as if I was saying something that might upset the Me Too movement, even when I haven’t disagreed with the historian’s general point of view at all.  The struggle to get a clear definition of events in any given period of history is what makes history interesting. Sometimes however, daring to comment on it can provoke a civil war reaction in itself.  The events surrounding the first two Stuart monarchs and their opponants will never recieve a definition that satisfies everyone, and that is how it should be. History such be presented in all its complexity, not simplified into soundbites or tucked away in dry academic and expensive tomes most people will rarely if ever set eyes on.

Arthur Chappell 

Pub Review – The Northern Way – Preston

A fairly new pub to Friargate, in Preston city centre, Lancashire but a most welcome one. It has quickly established itself as a popular venue for citizens, tourists, students and shoppers.

It can be quiet on some visits and very busy on others.

Music plays but not intrusively though it could lose its widescreen sport TV’s.

The high ceilings, Art Nouveu prints and Gothic art depicting death masks, skulls etc are an intriguing curio, along with other decor.

The pub has become something of a gin palace and offers a few decent geust ales too. On my last visit I had Moorhouses – White Witch 4.0% ABV **** A smooth light golden session ale with a welcome after taste effect – a genuine thirst quencher. I have often seen this in tins though less frequently on draught.

Arthur Chappell

How Not To Behave In The Pub

Aside from the obvious nuisance of the aggressive, or obnoxious drunk abusing, threatening customers or collapsing in a puddle of his / her own body fluids, there are several other ways people can ruin a good night out in the pub. Here is a list in no particular order.

Beer

1/. Hogging The Bar – Sitting at the bar is fine if the bar is not too busy or it doesn’t obstruct other customers trying to get served but some bar hogs seem to get away with such practice.

2/. Stealing chairs from the table. – You sit alone, with three empty chairs nearby, possibly hoping someone nice will join you. Someone asks if one or more of the chairs is vacant, and expecting them to join you you say yes, butthey simply absxond with the chair to sit with their friends leaving you sitting like Billy-No-Mates.

3/. General furniture rearrangers – Drinkers who shift chairs and tables around creating obstructions to pathways and causing staff to have to putthings back. This can be a real nuisance if tables are numbered for food service and waiter service.

beer barrels

4/. Dumping empty glasses and other detritus on occupied tables as they pass. This really shows disrespect to other customers.

5/. Expecting someone to mind your coats, drinks, bags, etc, and simply dumping your things near them in a pile, often for several hours, treating customers like free cloakroom attendants.

6/. Not tipping the staff when you can afford to.

7/. Over-Tipping, in the expectation of special express service on future visits to the bar.

8/. Flashing the cash – Treating everyone top expensive drinks in the hope they will be your friends.

beer mats

9/. Buying someone a drink in the automatic expectation that they will return the favour.

10/. Bullying someone into drinking more or at a faster rate than they are comfortable with.

11/. Being a beer snob – showing sneering contempt for someone drinking something you might not enjoy drinking yourself.

12/. Getting someone deliberately drunk or drugged withouttheir consent, especially in date-rape drug or Mickey-Finn usage. This is often seen as a crime and rightly so.

13/. Being a regular customer and therefore expecting after service hours drinking priveledges even when not offered them.

14/. Someone who steals another drinker’s drinks, in part or in whole. It can happen accidentally if the glass contents are similar but if someone does it often it is deliberate.

beer

15/. Endless complaining about the noise, toilets, asking for top ups on beers that don’t need them, etc.

16/. Insisting on someone buying a round in even if they can’t afford it.

17/. Employers turning up at a bar used by their staff just to spy on the employees.

18/. Expecting someone to leave a seat because you have enjoyed sitting there on previous pub visits and assume it is reseved for you.

19/. Reseving seats or tables but turning up late or not at all.

20/. Placing coats and bags on chairs but never sitting near them and then collecting the items back at the end of the night.

21/. Helping someone with answers on a pub quiz machine even when not invited to, and then expecting a share of any winnings they earn from the machine.

22/. Waiting for last orders and ordering four or more large drinks for yourself, expecting staff to stall closing until you have consumed them.

beer

23/. Offering to get someone a drink, but then returning from the bar without it. (not having forgotten others, or your own).

24/. Being offered a drink and suddenly switching from your usual modestly priced tipple to something expensive and extravagent. One relative used to try asking for Crem-La-Menth and Vodha though he just drank cheap lager when buying his own. I never saw anyone buy it for him.

25/. Preferring loud phone conversations to chatting o the company gathered round in the pub.

26/. Letting your unruly children run riot round the pub.

27/. Hogging games machines, juke-boxes, snooker & pool tables, etc.

28/. Smuggling your own beer and food into the pub.

29/. Spilling someone’s drinks but not offering to buy a replacement atthe earliest opportunity.

30/. Treating non-regulars with hostility and prejudice.

31/. General racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, etc.

32/. Spreading gossip behind another drinker’s back.

33/. Demanding a pub puts a particular programme, usually sports related, on the TV.

Most drinkers manage to not fall into any of these categories.

Arthur Chappell

The Walmer Bridge Beer And Bangers Beer Festival 2021

An important event for me. Though I have had a few beers since my cancer surgery, this was my first full on all day drinking session since I came out of hospital, and my first real ale beer festival since leaving Manchester in 2017. I attended the Oktoberfest Oompah Beer Festival in Preston a few years back, but that was not a real ale event.

The Programme

This was the Beer & Banger Festival. The venue was Walmer Bridge Village Hall on the outskirts of Preston, and the event raised money for Galloway’s a great charity helping those affected by sight loss in Lancashire and Sefton.

Though a three day festival, I was only able to get there for the middle day, Saturday 28th August. The hall was easy to find, being just round the corner from the Walmer Bridge pub with bus stops close by too. I arrived just before the 12.30 pm opening, got my souvenir pint glass and programme and waited a few minutes for the bar to open. As well as nearly 40 real ales, keg, bottled, ciders and gins were also on offer.

The beer selections

There was also live entertainment with three bands set to play (one of who had to cancel as a member had sadly become indisposed due to Covid, though a replacent performer was booked to appear). I only got to see the first band, Run For Cover, a three piece group who did excellent covers of songs by Oasis, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Jam, and a superb take on The White Stripes Seven Nation Army hit. The band did exactly what was expected of them for such a gig and did it really well.

The venue was actually a large beer tent in the grounds of the hall, with additional seating on the lawns and in two other marquis tents too. Though there were a lot of people there, everyone was quite spread out, which created quite a safe environment given the ongoing Covid threat in the air. The weather was glorious, and staff and volunteers were all extremely nice and helpful.

The view of the grounds early on

Purchases were made with tokens and with all beers at £3.00 a pint it was a real bargain, especially in drinking halfs to quaff as many different beers as possible, as many of the bar staff over-poured so drinkers got more than a half anyway.

The bangers were great too, with a choice of sausages and burgers all freshly made on the day. I had a very nice steak burger.

Of course, being a beer festival, the ale was always going to be the star attraction. I would have liked to have seen more dark ales on offer. The only porter sold was one I have had before and I generally skip beers sampled elsewhere so each ale is a fresh experience for me.

My festival beer glass

Here are my reviews of the beers I did indulge in.

1/. Beer Brothers – True Brit 3.8% ABV *** A dark looking coppery session ale, with a dash of plum fruitiness and a quite subliminal aftertaste.

2/. Bowland – Buster 4.5% ABV ***** Another copper coloured ale, with a light citrusy yet sweet taste that gradually creeps up on you.

3/. Titanic Brewery – Rasberry Pale – 4.7% ABV *** Though looking quite rasberry red the taste is rather nuetral, and not as spectacular is I expected. Not a bad taste by any means but most Totanic ales are much more impressive.

4/. Bowland – Pheasant Plucker 4.5% ABV *** Copper coloured, rather dry tasting, hoppy and with a hint of nuttiness. The name coming from the tongue twisting near rude spooneristic song is its most memorable feature.

5/. Crankshaft – Propshaft 3.8% ABV **** A quite traditional session ale, rich in Fuggles & Goldings Hops, and very pleasant to taste and savour.

6/. Dancing Duck – Nice Weather 4.1% ABV *** A dry copper coloured ale, with several fruit flavours including blackberries and strawberries that rather cancel one another out, but a decent enough drink.

7/. Farmyard Ales – Sheaf 4.1% ABV ***** Slightly fizzy citrusy and hoppy ale, using a clever blending of hops imported from New Zealand and the USA. The effect is a very pleasant taste and texture. For me this was the best beer on offer at the festival.

Run For Cover in performance

8/. Timothy Taylor – Boltmaker 4.0% ABV ***** A fine traditional copper coloured hoppy session ale that ticks all the right boxes.

9/. Lancaster – Red 4.8% **** Malty top of the session ale scale ale that was a great one to finish my session off with.

A lovely festival that probably just needs to broaden its range of ales, in strength, style and colour, but beautifully run, as well as serving a great cause. I hope Galloway’s make this an annual event and Preston gets many more beer festivals in future.

Link – Galloway’s – http://www.galloways.org.uk

Arthur Chappell

Why We Should Swim With Our Clothes On

For most of us swimming involves the near nudity of swimwear, trunks, One Piece bathing suits, or bikini wear. Exceptions would be for those involved in long cold exposure to open water, such as surfers, or underwater activity where wetsuits and dry-suits are a must.

Princess Of Darkness in the Mersey in a dress, taken by me

Swim-wear can be seen as attractive and even erotic for many. There are swim-suit editions of Sports Illustrated, swim-wear calendars, etc.

For the less attractive, such as the overweight, disabled, elderly, scarred, etc, being seen in swim-wear can be more distressing or embarrassing. We see jokes about guys in ‘budge-smuggler’ speedos and celebrities mocked by the Paparatzi for wrinkles and cellulite or just not being as beautiful as they were twenty years before, as if once reaching a certain age they should simply stop going out in public or pay for extensive cosmetic surgery.

Me underwater

I myself now have to wear a stoma bag on my stomach, not something that can be hidden under swim-wear. Many public, and private hotel pools might not let me in with either the stoma on display or wearing a long shirt to cover it over.

Similar problems face those who don’t wish to reveal much of their flesh for religious purposes. Others may feel self-conscious of being watched. If a pool has windows or public viewing areas you can guarentee that voyeurs will gather just to ogle and gawp. A public gym near me (closed recently when it lost money due to the Covid lockdowns) had windows overlooking its main gym and pool areas. Several (mostly) men gathered at the bus stop situated right outside the gym only pretending to wait for the buses. A holiday camp I visited in my youth had viewing windows in the sides of the pool so watchers could admire bobbing bikinis under-water without the bathers often even thinking about who was watching. I’m even wary of some swimming goggles serving the same purpose.

We can of course go open air wild swimming, which is invariably cold, and the more public this is the more attention we would draw. On many beaches telescopes set up on promenades and piers to admire the view were often used for admiring bathers instead. Bathing beauty postcards were once common. Commedian Ronnie Barker wrote a book on the subject, Pebbles On The Beach.

Clothed swimming makes sense as a means of providing modesty, giving greater protection from ultra-violet than expensive environment un-friendly sun-tan lotions, and provide greater boyeancy. School life-saving classes showed that clothes trap air. You can actually make a swim-bladder air bag easily from jeans or trousers. Clothes in water can save lives. Only if they get very heavily water-logged, as coats or heavy dresses might, do they threaten to pull you under. Try that with a bikini top and see how long you get by before you start sinking.

Clothes used to carry heavy dyes which could run and stain water badly but modern fabrics do not have such a problem. Clothed swimming is however more tabboo than revealing a lot more of yourself than many care to do.

Me wet

So, pools, lidos, hotel spas and jaccuzis should allow and encourage clothed swimming not to the exclusion of traditional swimming attire by any means. It will make the pools more appealing to those who are self-conscious, being discreet with signs of surgery or disabiliies, modest, religious, less attractive, and not out to be eyed up by those out to ogle. The attitude at present amounts to ‘you can only swim here if we all get a good look at your cleavage’.

We should not be ashamed of our bodies, age, disabilities, etc, but swimming is for most of us not a fashion display or an opportunity to be judged, approved, or give arousal to strangers. Clothed swimming helps us float, The sports centre or hotel pool demanding that swimmers strip down and reveal more skin are following a tradition that is actually judgemental, demeaning and discriminating. Clothed swimming should be encouraged and approved much more in the 21st century.

Arthur Chappell