As we walked across the cricket ground heading into the village of Hanley Castle, I couldn't help but look out for Geraldine Granger out for a stroll and enjoying the evening sun like ourselves.

Unfortunately, Granger was not to be seen, but I did meet one character; an unusual mix of Frank Pickle and David Horton. We got talking and he reminisced about his wife who he lost 16 years ago – and told, with a glint in his eye, how he'd built an extension to his 14th century black and white cottage back in the 1980s, and shocked the planning authorities by actually building it to a standard that met building regulations, despite his appearance as a mad scientist.

After listening to his numerous anecdotes about life in the village, we wandered into the pub. Well, attempted to anyway, the main door was not in use, discouraging tourists like ourselves from visiting. Doctor Phillip (as I discovered was the real name of Frank Horton) didn't join us – he'd rather spend the evening reading under his favourite tree. Besides, he had to be up at 5am delivering the parish newsletter.

Walking through the side door of the Three Kings (not named because of three kings according to Doctor Phil, but because of three brothers with the surname King who established the pub), it was like going back several centuries.

Inside it was crowded, full of local landowners, most of whom Doctor Phil had greeted personally whilst we were chatting outside. Part of the crowd consisted of two “lads” in their 50s, who Doctor Phil told tales of running amok in their teenage years, poaching across the local land and generally winding everyone up. Now they owned half of Worcestershire.

We crept through to the bar, past a notice advertising an upcoming ferret race, and ordered two pints of local ale from Sue the landlady (not a problem, she had gallons of good ale, although she couldn't guarantee exactly what it was). But then, a female member of our party dared order a pint of lager. I would not be exaggerating if I said the bustling bar went silent. Sue looked at us as if we'd just asked for the blood of her firstborn.

“I'll see what I can do”, came the reply.

Finding a pump that looked like it had been disused for at least 50 years, Sue poured a pint of lager. I got the feeling that we pesky tourists had just brought shame on this establishment.
 





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