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A Couple of Old 'Uns.

As the years tick by changes occur. Some are slow and almost imperceptible, like the requirement for ever-increasing arm length to allow the morning paper to be read before finally deciding to allow the optician to prescribe some readers. Or the change of clips on the hand pumps, slowly moving away from the dominating brews of the big players to offering a greater variety of ales from smaller, local brewers. Others are much more of a sudden step-change, such as the onset of a cardiac condition which, assuming one listens to the opinion of one's cardiologist, limits the level of effort that it's permissible to employ on the bike. Or the boarding-up and flattening of the boozer around the corner.

A week or so ago, Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I managed to travel to Sweden. The first winter break abroad for two years for some virus-related reason or other. The trip didn't start off according to plan as we were forced to upgrade to a 194bhp four-wheel drive Volvo V60 at the car hire depot. Still, hey ho! It was a car. So what if it had a heated front screen, heated windscreen washers, heated door mirrors, heated seats, heated steering wheel, heated coffee cup holders...

Not the expected Toyota Yaris!

...and a hundred and ninety-four straining horses crammed in under the bonnet!

Several days into our trip, we awoke one morning and the day dawned bright, sunny and warm. It dawned bright, sunny and warm – at around 10:00, a while after breakfast. And warm was minus 8. Everything is relative after all, and it was certainly warmer than the minus 24 we experienced a few mornings earlier. A short backcountry ski trip was in order, so it was pack the rucksack with all the necessary tools and clothing for surviving any predictable emergency, as well as most unpredictable ones – other then Vladimir Putin deciding to invade – and set off.

A bit of breaking trail...

...soon lead to easier going and a junction where a decision had to be made.

Decisions, decisions! All roads lead to Strömsund.

Decision made, it was off again, passing some very wintry looking summer houses...

...and then across the frozen lake which served as a snowmobile's playground...

...before a final trek through the woods back to base for a coffee and a Magnum. An ice cream, that is, not a large bottle of bubbly. A delightful, sunny 8.5km trip.

The next day dawned bright, sunny and warm – at around 10:03, a while before breakfast. We struggled to get out of bed. Everything ached. Legs, arms, shoulders, the lot! After just 8.5km? I recall the days of covering over forty! I suppose we just have to accept that we're now a couple of old 'uns.

So with us now being a couple of old 'uns it seems appropriate to throw in this old photograph which I've had stashed away for a while showing, as it does, a couple of old 'uns. There's the Old Dick, which I have to say is about the only part of my old body that didn't ache after that ski, and another – Ye Old Something or Other – peeking out behind it. What exactly was old, where are/were they and are they still in existence?

The Old Dick. What is that ghostly apparition to the right of the little boy?

Well, it didn't take much effort at all to discover that the Old Dick used to be a boozer found at 24 Cloth Fair, in the Barbican/Smithfield area of London. A quick search with Mr. Google brought up a number of similar images of the pub some, as in the image above, with the name Old Dick and others where it seemed to be named the Old Dick Whittington Inn.

A sixteenth century timbered-framed house, The Dick Whittington Inn used to claim to be the oldest licensed premises in London but in reality it only became a beerhouse in 1848, according to Historic England who also have this view of its side elevation, taken in the 1890s.

If that 1848 date is correct then the first landlord is likely to have been William Rigden as he features in that year's Post Office directory...

Extract from the 1848 Post Office directory.

...and if William Rigden was possibly the earliest landlord the last could well have been Thomas Lawrence. After all, he was there in 1911...

...and in 1916 the building was demolished as part of a slum clearance exercise having been bought earlier by the London Corporation.

24 Cloth Fair is now a one bedroomed residence which sold for £1,830,000 in 2018. You may or may not be pleased to hear that its value at the time of writing now seems to have reduced by a mere £241,000.

24 Cloth Fair in January 2018. © Google 2022

And if we look closely at the image captured by Mr. Google, when the property's value was at about its highest, what do we see? Yes, an old pub peeking out. The Old Something or Other turns out to be the Old Red Cow and it is still going strong, which seems to be something which Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I wish was applicable to us.

One last thing before I go. I have to admit that Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I liked the Volvo and didn't want to give it back.

A Volvo!



Now, surely, that really does make us a couple of old 'uns.

Andrea Vail's image of the Old Red Cow is copyright and is reused under this licence.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. If you haven't done so already you can subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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