A Word In Your Ear - February 12, 2015

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It was good to hear £300,000 is being spent on refurbishment of the Victoria Hotel, St Annes, recently threatened with demolition but rescued by local support.

This Victorian edifice, on Church Road, was popular back when Boddingtons beer was the rage.

Its landlord was known as ‘Effing’ Norman because of his foul language, although he seemed oblivious since he would still rebuke anyone else emitting expletives. The high-ceilinged pub with pale-green walls and naked light bulbs then had only one comfortable lounge.

This was popular with sporting heroes from Fylde Rugby Club, such as ‘Crusher’ Croasdale and ‘Mad’ Max. But I remember another character there called Peter who worked on the Lytham St Annes 

Peter was older and so well-spoken and distinguished I assumed he worked for the Daily Express, when we first got talking and he realised I reported for The Gazette.

He had been a market gardener in Kent but followed a younger woman, ‘the love of his life’, to the Fylde.

There was a theatrical flamboyance about Peter, who would attend the ‘Vic’ weekend evenings wearing a dark, monk-like habit, open sandals and with his grey hair in a short ponytail.

He discussed his sex life in a booming voice. This attracted curious looks and disapproving assumptions.

Pubs had a lot of larger-than-life characters back then, especially down-to-earth Bods pubs such as the Dunes in South Shore.

The busiest was the Thatched House in Poulton. Like the others, it offered little in food, music or family amenities. However, I was once given sliced bread to toast in its open fire, along with a jar of dripping. The new Vic, I guess, will serve up better.

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