A month ago I walked over from Bristol Airport to Keynsham. The first bit (Itinerary 4-9) was, as usual, the best bit. Coming up the big field on a legal right of way just before Dundry, 30-odd heifers swirled out from behind a hedge escorted by a young black bull who decided his womenfolk needed some proactive protection. Half a tonne of potroast trotting rapidly towards one is a wonderful sight, and there was nowhere to hide anyway, so I stood my ground, imitated a windmill and recited Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate at the top of my voice in best George Melly stylee, while considering survival scenarios learnt from Hispanic fiesta videos. Fortunately Mr Bull aborted his run-up, and I was allowed to retreat, climb through a barbed wire fence, and head up to the village, whose fauna are generally quite a bit scarier.
The village of Dundry and Bristol have wonderful views of each other, which the residents of south Bristol have traditionally taken as an invitation to drive up to the ridge, hold raves, dump their old pots, and acquire new ones without necessarily introducing themselves. Stepping briskly out of the path of a fugitive and the two police cars following him, I walked out of the village and immediately in a field entrance came on a fly-tipped trove, evidently the result of a house clearance, which must have rivalled the Staffordshire Hoard in size and interest – furniture, clothing, toilets, tiles and other builders’ junk … and a couple of dozen photo albums. I wish I’d had time to collect more from the latter, but rain was on the way and my Ryansack was already quite full. It did also occur to me that if someone was having second thoughts about dumping their absolutely wonderful (I’m not joking) records of several decades of what appears to be happy family life, then they might be less than happy to find me up there.
The photos are full of the kind of splendid late-20th century detail which those old enough go have forgotten will probably relish. I don’t know Knowle West, but Esmond Million’s Bung has a classic anecdote about the family’s local pub:
Stick with me on this one. Probably 1977/78 in our 1st division days I went to Derby to watch [Bristol] City with my old man and some of our mates. We found a boozer near the ground, the bar was full of Derby fans and the lounge was empty (remember the days when pubs had a bar and a lounge) we went in the lounge and had a few beers, just before we decided to leave the pub for the ground I decided I needed a dump and went to the toilets with a local newspaper too read.
After about 5 minutes a load of Derby fans ran into the toilet and there being 2 wc’s and me being in one they all congregated in the other and locked the door. I thought that this was strange but finished my dump and walked out into the lounge which was empty, outside I could see my dad and our mates and all seemed ok, my dad said “take a look in the bar”, I did and it looked as if a bomb had hit it windows, tables, chairs, jukebox and optics just totalled, my dad said all of a sudden a load of City fans ran into the bar and all hell broke out it was all over in less than a couple of minutes.
Anyway a City kiddie about 18/19 years old came up to me and my dad and said “Can I stay with you lot, i’m ******* shitting myself, I came up here with a coach from the Venture Inn Knowle, we left at 7 oclock this morning and I was the only sober bloke on the coach, last night they had had an all night lock in and before the coach got onto the Wells Road, a fight broke out on the coach and they’ve been fighting amongst themselves all the way up here. They have smashed up 3 motorway service station restaurants and are now coked up and when the coach stopped here I thought thank **** for that, I can escape now and they’ve done this. i’m going home by train, I don’t care how much it costs”.
Camra member Keith Shapland has a different view:
“I moved to Knowle West 12 years ago, and there were two excellent locals â€“ the Venture Inn and The Friendship,” he says. “Both have disappeared in the last couple of years. It strikes at the very heart and soul of a community when you remove the local pub. What could be sadder than calling time on the Local for the final time?”
Anyway, here they are:
[Removed pending other use]
(If anyone in these photos somehow finds this page and wants a chat, I’m contactable here.)
- Rab’s family
It turns out that an occasional commenter here has a blog of his own, From Catalonia to Caledonia, in which, from
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- Real live caganer crapping in a field
Off the other evening to see Chelsea-Liverpool on a big screen in a village bar in another valley. Coming down from