A Word In Your Ear - March 20, 2014

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If there was a flag flying above Blackpool’s oldest pub then it would be at half-mast today.

Tomorrow (Friday), at 10.30am, in Lytham, is the funeral of one of its ‘royalty’ – Stormin’ Norman.

Norman, 81, was the oldest of The Saddle Inn’s patrons. His was always the first alcove seat as you entered the “Commons”.

This is the regulars’ room. The pub dates back to Roundhead days, but once had a “Lords” for the toffs of Great Marton. There was also a “Division Lobby” or “Smoking Room” that today is a dining room.

If this Parliamentary style continued until the present, Stormin’ would have been Father of the House.

Norman, despite his nickname, wasn’t one to push himself forward, nor be overlooked.

For years he’d kept the background beat as drummer to the Fylde Coast Jazzmen. In their golden era, the Jazzmen played at the resort’s top venues and further afield.

I only saw them in their twilight years. They were one of few bands allowed to play regularly downstairs at the Raikes Hall pub (some members appearing too old to get upstairs!).

Norman still cut a dash, with tweed jacket, cravat and cigarette holder.

This bearded grandee was also a master craftsman, who took pride in both work and play.

He was a cabinet-maker, as Stormin’ soon let you know if you called him a joiner! He hadn’t always been so meticulous, however, as his stub of a thumb demonstrated after a lathe accident.

That didn’t stop Norman rolling the finest of ciggies, which he enjoyed for decades along with his pint of Draught Bass.

When retired and 70, Saddle regulars honoured the much-loved grandfather with a party and engraved tankard.

Fortunately, he still had many years to relax fly-fishing, of which he was also a master.

May our old friend cast his hook wide and joyfully still, though now from the other side.

n Visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com.