Posted by: Michael Holliday | April 27, 2012

What’s That Got To Do With The Price Of A Pint?

Beryl's Mates Down The Barbican

Fiona Joseph's Beatrice

It’s not often that I agree with a tory, especially one with such fixed views on matters of personal choice, but hats off to Nadine Dorries for her astute character assessment of posh Dave and his ‘oppo Gideon, sorry, George: ‘Unfortunately, I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others – and that is their real crime.’ Exactly. Incidentally, do you know how much milk costs?[1]

Not only was Monday Shakespeare’s birthday, deathday and the feast of St George, it was also World Book Night – a million books to be given away, I was sadly disappointed with the lack of publicity I could see for it; I hope that the event didn’t pass you by totally. I distributed all my copies of I Capture The Castle and now wonder how many will be read, how many will be passed on, and how many readers will record their books’ progress on the website

Of books, I took a glance at Fiona Joseph’s recently published Beatrice[2], three hours later I’d finished, fascinated. The book tells of the life of Beatrice Cadbury and her man (Kees Boeke) both idealist anarchist Quakers prepared to suffer for their principles, high principles they were and suffer they did. I particularly enjoyed the first half of the book as it was set in King Heath and Moseley, but probably learnt more from the second half (set in Holland) which told of their struggle to live a life independent of the state and system and to bring up seven kids. I read, with admiration, of the Quakers; the Cadbury set up at Bourneville; the early 20Cth peace movement; the Nazis in Holland and of an exciting educational experiment: the Werkplaats:  giving kids a rounded  education to enable them to succeed in life rather than in league tables – Mr Gove could learn a thing or two. Congratulations Fiona, thanks for the book and I hope that your leg soon mends.

Five hundred miles is a long way to go to watch the Mighty Mose lose yet again but I do like Plymouth, it’s real and so are its people. The city centre itself is a bit drab, bombed in the war and rebuilt in the Coventry style, and the gallery is basic municipal with a bit of porcelain and a few worthy pics. But we stayed up on the Hoe with one of the best seaviews ever (I’ve told you about this before) and had a couple of boozy nights down at the Barbican (the old harbour from which the Mayflower set sail, as did the earlier pilgrims on their way to Compostela), my fave pub being The Dolphin, it’s always packed and difficult to find a seat but has a great atmosphere and splendid beers straight from the cask – Beryl Cook  drank there and set several of her, larger than life, happy paintings in the pub. There’s also four or five other real pubs closeby, so the Barbican – a great place for  night out. The match was poor, neither side had much to play for, but we got free tickets (thanks Lee), got to chat to a few mates, made a few new ones, and got to say goodbye to Mose till next season when,  if results go the right way, we should be taking trips to Newcastle and Jersey – exciting eh?

Yesterday, avoiding the rain, I took the train to town and BMAG where I saw their latest exhibition: Children’s Lives in the Gas Hall. Even though I went to school with them, I’ve never liked kids, but this was quite upsetting, as it showed a pretty poor life quality for the vast majority of children right up to the second big war. ‘Charitable institutions provided poor children with opportunities for learning, for other children education was very restricted because they were categorised as ‘uneducable’ and they found themselves placed in mental institutions. Children who were seen as delinquent, ‘street arabs’, or morally vulnerable were imprisoned in correctional institutions and reformatories.’ A far cry from the privileged childhood of Beatrice Cadbury spent around Kings Heath and Moseley. Well worth a visit; but why did they stop sending kids up chimneys?

Anyway, I gotta’ go. I do hope the rain stops as I’m due out for a run and then off to Leamington for a long country walk and a night of beer and brag. Beseeingyou.

[1]A trick question as any fule kno, for the price of a pint of milk, just as a price of a pint of beer and the length of a piece of string, is variable. I reckon it can be anything from 27p to £1.00. As for the price of a pint of beer, don’t get me started, I paid £3.45 the other day. And the length of a piece of string? Who cares?

[2] Beatrice, The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune. Foxwell Press, 2011.


  1. Enjoyed your blog as always Mike. Yeah rain is a bit much right now. But look on the bright side – kees on like this and you’ll be able to swim anywhere you want to go :). Mx.

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