A seasoned look at life - October 4, 2012

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NOTHING much happens on Mondays.

That’s what reporters thought when – almost 50 years ago – they met up in Manchester to savour a few pints and yarns.

In fact, that summer evening in 1967 at the Unicorn Hotel, they started a tradition now also enjoyed on the Fylde.

They founded the Honourable Order of Bass Drinkers.

Others interested in relishing this king of ales soon swelled their number, mainly from professions newsmen spent much time with – policemen and licensees.

Craftily, the H.O.B.D. also made honorary members of bosses at Bass in Burton-on-Trent. They were soon enjoying free beer at meetings and boozy banquets in the Midlands.

I joined the order one dark, unguarded evening 20 years ago. We had arrived in Manchester on a Blackpool Handy Bus – as the order included several bus inspectors.

Beer flowed and pies were served at our upstairs room in the Unicorn. Here I explained why I wanted to join (for good beer and genial company). Then members unanimously rejected me, which automatically made me a member.

Such curious rules are typical of the order’s cussedness. Later in the meeting, treasurer Terry Batty Snr (a well-known figure among Blackpool and Manchester licensees) was booed for revealing money still remained in club coffers.

Also, when the Campaign for Real Ale suggested in the 80s the H.O.B.D. might like to be incorporated, the order offered to let the upstart CAMRA join it.

Now both groups rub shoulders in mutual respect– to the gratitude of all who appreciate cask ales.

Sadly, work got in the way of me attending meetings – always held on the first Monday of the month (except Bank Holidays).

I only attended my next meeting this Monday – 20 years later – at our very own Saddle in Great Marton.

Fortunately, my long absence was forgiven. I repaid the jovial company by reciting a humorous excerpt about the order from my history of Blackpool’s oldest inn - a light-hearted, cartoon-illustrated volume entitled Saddle Up!

Beside me was a man who had helped spread the order to Blackpool - former Saddle manager John Moore, a retired policeman and onetime landlord of the Town Hall Tavern in Manchester.

The order, always happy to recruit members and welcome guests, now has a witty page in Wikipedia - from current H.O.B.D. chairman and Lytham Cricket Club steward Terry Batty Jnr.

What’s more, this Monday it transpired the Honourable Order is going international – with a New York branch. Now, that would have been news for those Manchester hacks - back on that auspicious Monday 49 years ago.

n Novels and other books by Roy - including Saddle Up! – are available through stores or online. Visit royedmonds-blackpool.com