Q & A | Part 4

The final part of the series and moving away from caravanning and travel but still some subjects close to my heart. Here we go, let the inane waffle commence:

Your favourite ale, considering all the research you must have done by now, or are you still looking?

Second part first, I’m always looking! There are now well over 600 beers in the Ale Archive that I’ve sampled at least a pint or 500ml bottle of, over the years. Thanks to caravanning I’ve been able to try beers from other parts of the country that just wouldn’t make it down to my part of the world, be that local seasonal brews, where limited quantities are made or ones deemed not commercially successful nationwide. Very few - less than half a dozen - I’d never try again and I’ve been fortunate to come across some superb ales.

I generally although not exclusively, prefer darker bitters but, ever since trying a pint of Camerons Castle Eden in Robin Hood’s Bay in 2007, having drank lager for around twenty years, I’ve tried all sorts. I like stouts and porters too and sometimes a golden ale works for me, particularly in warmer weather.

Right, to my favourite. Or favourites. I’m going to preform a minor cop out and pick two because I enjoy them both equally: Fullers’ London Pride and Timothy Taylors’ Bolt Maker. A pint of Pride, in a Fullers pub where it’s likely been expertly kept does it for me every time. A pint of Bolt Maker in a Taylor’s pub in Ripon was one of the best I’ve ever had. But as I said, I’ll keep looking!

Was Trev part of the school bus team, also did he enjoy real ale or the contents of your wine ‘cellar’?

Yes, in fact Trev joined the college about three weeks before I did. It was only ever meant to be a stop gap before we headed off in to Europe for our long trip with Patsy. The house wouldn’t sell though and cash was running dry. I’d been applying for numerous jobs with no joy but one of our then neighbours was Transport Manager. It’s not what you know etc. Anyway, Trev moved away from driving regularly but joined the Security team adhoc and that’s how he first got involved in the college Open Days. His skills at coaxing drivers of huge 4 x 4’s into the tightest of spaces in order to cram in as many as possible were legendary. Later he moved to become Caretaker at the Nursery & Pre-Prep school but spent the last year working adhoc for various departments. He was due to re-join Transport as a regular driver in September 2018 for his last year before retirement.

Trev returned to real ale at the same time I did. He much preferred it in a pub though and rarely drank at home at all, the odd nightcap notwithstanding. When caravanning, if he were to drink in the van, it was usually white wine. He loved red but in later years it didn’t agree with him.

If you were invisible for a day…

Ooh, the possibilities! However, keeping it clean, I’d like to roam the corridors of power and listen to just how our political masters come up with some of the decisions that they do. More personally I would like to have been on on some of the meetings at the school that have had direct implications for me, Transport and the wider college community. I suspect though that it wouldn’t be long before I blew my cover with shrieks of exasperation and dis-belief!

If you had created the Teletubbies, what would you have named them all?

Ha ha, that may appear a real way out question for some. However Trev and I shared a childish fondness for them ever since his days as a cabbie in Cambridge. He’d go in very early on Sunday mornings for the juicy airport runs, along with some of the others, and they’d normally be back in the office around seven am. Someone was despatched to McDonalds, bad coffee was poured and cigarettes were lit. The telly in the drivers room was on as per and gradually a bunch of cabbies in Cambridge joined the army of toddlers and late night clubbers watching the antics of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La and Po each week. Daft? Yeah but why not.

At the companys’ Christmas party several of them had got together and presented Trev with a Dipsy back-pack - the green one, to take on our upcoming trip across to the States and on to Fiji, New Zealand and Oz. Photographic evidence would be required and of course we were always up for challenge:

1999 - 2991999 - 1251999 - 041

Dipsy although now 24 years old, still accompanies me on all my trips, as he has since we started caravanning. Weird? Yes, but harmless.

So getting to the point, names. Given my er, sartorial bent, this wasn’t hard: Leathery, Gothly, Rubbery and Hunky. You can probably guess what I’d have them wearing and I doubt it would be suitable for children's TV…

Best show you have seen and why?

Another toughie. I love theatre, both musical and plays - although they have to be comedy for me. Those who read my travel blog posts will know that I’ve been taking the caravan up to London quite regularly since Trev died and I’ve made a point of going to the theatre too.

As I said I enjoy plays too so I’m going to pick one from each category - first up: Musicals.

Bat out of Hell was one of the most awesome shows I’ve seen, the energy and emotion gave me goose bumps - the questioner knows how much I enjoyed it as we saw it together. However the one that JUST trumps it for me was Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Yeah, I know, such a cliché, a gay man liking a show about drag queens but it was full of the music I love, the story was quite touching at times and the set was the most stunning I have ever seen. It was a 40th birthday treat too

Of the plays, the two I’ve seen most recently were superb - The Sacred Crow and The Play That Goes Wrong. The latter just gets the title though - pin sharp script and the most exquisitely timed slapstick made for genuine laugh out loud comedy. Superb.

If you were to walk in the steps of a woman for a day, what would you do/change in the world?

Whoa! Right, well I wouldn't do it in high heels for a start if my experiences with Cuban heeled winklepickers are anything to go by. Jeez, torture for the feet. I’d do my level best to remove the expectation that I should wear them - be it in the boardroom, or at dinner or anywhere else. However I would take a pair with me and use them to poke in the eye any stuffed shirt that requires it for his peers, secretary or P.A and that applies just as much if said ‘stuffed shirt’ is a woman. I wouldn’t ban them - just remove the ridiculous expectation that they are somehow part of the ‘uniform’.

I’d applaud any woman - and indeed any man - who has pushed for equality, but I’d also shout down those who, although perhaps believing they’re doing good, end up alienating themselves thanks to personal agendas.

Changing back, as a gay man I have watched largely from the side-lines as others have thought for equality - marriage, work and pension rights to name but three, often putting their livelihoods and sometimes their lives at risk, particularly back in the dark days. But I cringe at those that, by outrageous behaviour and self promotion have alienated us from Joe public and there are those amongst the campaigners for womanhood who are doing exactly the same I believe.

What is the best memory of a moment when Trev was alive?

There was another question, very similar, that would have elicited the same answer so I’m going with the first one to come in.

This was ultimately quite easy. We shared many, many happy times of course in our near 30 year relationship - obviously our Civil Partnership - later Marriage - just over 14 years ago is pretty high up.

However, I’ve chosen an occasion whose significance didn’t become important until the following day:

31st July 2018, Essex. After a great day out exploring Colchester we went out for a superb meal at the Layer Fox pub south of Colchester then, headed out to the Abberton reservoir just a few miles a way and watched as the sun went down. It was a lovely warm night and later we sat outside the caravan for a while before adjourning for a small nightcap before lights out. Simple pleasures but they’re often the best. Thankfully I had no idea then what was to follow in the morning but that time, just standing together, looking over the reservoir I will forever treasure.


What does success mean and look like for you?

Happiness, or at the very least contentment. What brings either those is where we as humans vary. It’s never been about money for me. Some deem a well paying job and the goodies that that brings, success - or at least a component of it. I’ve never sought such things so never strived to work to get them. I was lucky to share a large portion of my life with a wonderful man who made me happy and content and we got what was for us, the perfect work/income/life balance. I’m pretty much doing the same now although of course on my own. I don’t decry the go-getters, far from it - we need people like that to build up businesses and employ people like me. Someone who sets up a company from scratch and grow it I admire a lot, it’s tough out there. I don’t admire the relentless pursuit of money by the super rich, earned often on the aching backs of others though.

Right, that is it. Thank you to everyone that posed questions. You got me thinking - not something that comes naturally, but if you’ve slowed my brain turning to much during our confinement, then it’s been well worth it.

Thanks too for reading if you’ve made it this far! Until, next time,

Beers & Cheers


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