Jellybread and Other Pubs
In those days the Oak was probably the best of the Corsham pubs.
There were carpets on the floors and comfortable seating and the
beer was o.k. A pint cost 1/10d or around 20p by today’s reckoning.
The landlord also had his home-made mead which was considered the
quickest beverage for heating up with before a party. It was known
as ‘lemonade’ (with a wink) when ordering and was very potent.
Upstairs was a big room where Disco-Nights were held on Tuesday
evenings. Black light and white shirts were the order of the day and
the noise there could be literally gut-wrenching. I only had to
stick my head out of the door up at Neston to know when the party
had started! My friend Clive Adams (with me in Graphics throughout
the course) was guitarist in the famous Jellybread Band. I
thought it was lead but he tells me since that it was
rhythm. Anyway, Clive was a very expert improviser, whatever his
position in the Jellybread, almost up to Hendrix standards. Rick
Dewar sometimes performed there too with a choice selection of
pornographic ballads which he accompanied himself to on the fiddle!
Sometime later on, probably ’69-ish, a new landlord arrived at the
Oak. He declared war on the students and banned us from coming in.
Said he wanted a more select clientele. Trouble was that a more
select clientele was nowhere to be found. We were after all the
crème de la crème! He didn’t know me or my friend Val and we
occasionally went in there pretending to be staff! But the old
atmosphere was gone and so too the magnificent oak wagon wheels that
used to hang on the chimney breasts. The blighter had gone and sold
them. The new landlord was quickly replaced when fat profits turned
to disastrous losses and someone found the wagon wheels at an
auction room and bought them back!
Of the other pubs the Methuen was a bit plushy and sedate. Margrét
and Maria sometimes went there together, probably because it reminded Maria of
the Irish kind of hotel-cum-pub. Margrét says that she never went
out to a pub on her own when she was at Corsham. She probably thought it would be like some of the
rough bars that were to be found in Iceland at that time (things
have much improved up here since then). She was a bit lonely at the
Almshouses (being a foreigner and a wee bit older than the other girls there)
and didn’t get out much until after I met her.
The Pack Horse was only for low-lifes, at least we Graphics
people thought so and didn’t frequent it much. They served rough
scrumpy there which I have always found an unpleasant drink. We
sometimes went over to the Cross Keys but the beer there could be a
bit shaky, especially in the summer. The Hare and Hounds at Pickwick
was of course standard for a pint and a pie of a Beechfield
lunchtime, quite cosy but a bit out of the way for evenings.
The Harp and Crown at Gastard was a fine
place to go to for a drink after hours. The landlord was a Freemason
and so was the local bobby. After closing time drinks were given
away behind closed doors with a promissory note of payment later. So
nobody was actually selling intoxicating beverages, the pub wasn’t
open and no laws were being broken. And the copper sometimes came in
in plain clothes and had his pint too. It was a case of blind eyes
and common sense! Gastard was a long way out for most people except
those who knew about the opening hours!
Dad and I sometimes went out to the pub together, he was a
liberal-minded dad and we enjoyed each other’s company. Some
people’s fathers are an embarrassment but mine, never! He could join
in the fun as well as the rest of us and the pub-going student
fraternity seemed to accept him almost like one of the gang on the
occasions that we turned up at the Oak together.