Pubs provide answers

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According to Isaac Newton, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The sense of excitement and anticipation of the weekend ahead felt on Friday was, for me at least, followed by a sense of depression and downbeat droopiness which set in by mid-afternoon on Sunday as the thought of the next week’s work became ever more imminent.

Fortunately these feelings used to be kept at bay by the Sunday night quiz league, and it was a great shame when this ended a few years ago.

The memories came flooding back recently when we rounded up a team and headed out to Shouldham for a Sunday evening charity quiz in aid of the Royal British Legion. It was good to see this community owned pub busy and selling great beer and cider. These are dispensed straight from the barrel and it makes an interesting comparison if you know the beers and usually drink them from a hand pump. When we were there, they were serving Wolf Poppy Ale, (10p of the price of each pint being donated to the Poppy Appeal) and Adnams Wild Hop beer.

This was brewed using hops that had been donated by members of the public from their own gardens or found growing wild.

We have the image in our minds of lots of East End Cockneys heading down to Kent every summer to harvest the hops growing on regimented rows of poles and strings, but it is a plant that flourishes in the wild in hedgerows and the like.

I always used to enjoy the sight of the ones that grew on the metal fence of the Kingdom Hall near the Tennyson Road railway crossing as I walked to work. I don’t know if any of these made it into the one off brew, but wherever they came from, the hops were beautifully blended together by the brewer to make a super beer. Adnams were not alone using this idea. Whilst I was at the Norwich beer festival, Bruce recommended a Fox beer to try as the hops in it were from his garden. Unfortunately it was so popular that it had already sold out by the time I made it to the bar.

As for the quizzes, my first experience was back in the mid 80s and I expected them to be a passing fad, but it seems that you could do one every night of the week if you so wished.

I was pleased not to be deducted points before the start as I mistakenly wrote in a previous article that the King’s Arms is at Shouldham Thorpe rather than Shouldham, but I was lucky enough to be let off with a warning! Given the number of quizzes that I have competed in and set I am sometimes surprised that there are any questions left that I have not heard, but we were given a stiff examination by a round on post-war fighter planes of the RAF. In the end, the scores are irrelevant. More important is that everyone who attended enjoyed the evening and that the Legion benefitted to the tune of £165, plus the collecting tin contents.

Sometimes the role of pubs in charity fundraising is overlooked. I doubt there is a pub anywhere without a collecting tin on the bar, and many run special events such as the Soapbox race at the Cock in Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen which raised £1,700 for the stroke unit last summer. How much are charities losing as pubs continue to close?