14/5/89

We had a couple of letters from Colin and Dill¹ and in them, written in Colin’s peculiar note-form were the paragraphs:

“A fellow shot a Black Power² member who was stealing petrol out of his car the other day, only one thing wrong, his mate got away. But it would be hard to hit a black moving target at night with a 303.” And: “Jill has just gone to bed in a huff because I wouldn’t let her slobber on letter or lick the stamp.”

¹Colin Johnson was the fellow renting our house in Geraldine. Dill, real name Jill, was an old sheepdog of mine who had been retired to Geraldine as Colin’s pet.

²Black Power are a New Zealand gang whose uniform is head to foot black leather.

13/5/89

Another row involving Bill, his demented girlfriend and some other girl. The police paid another visit…and another visit at midnight after some guy had punched out a window. He had badly cut his hand & Linda told him to go to Enfield hospital so the police met him there and arrested him. There was also a row in the public bar over a horse involving Garry, Marina¹ &, yes indeedy, Bill. Bill has now been banned from the pub.

¹Garry and Marina were another couple of regulars at The Woodman. I can’t remember the outcome of the argument but can remember very clearly the aftermath. Out in the car park Marina was shrieking incoherently at the other people involved as they sat in their car. Someone inside said “I’ve lost my chain” [necklace] I wanna look for it.” Garry promptly smashed his fist on the roof of the car and shouted “fuck chain…cunts!” We burst out laughing at this, the car sped off, and Garry and Marina began shouting at each other. Such was a typical Saturday night at The Woodman. (FOOTNOTE: Even now, thirty years later, the phrase “fuck chain…cunts” is still one we use occasionally to describe an adult having a tantrum over something trivial!)

12/5/89

After the lunch-time session, Rene¹ dropped us off in Enfield, about 25 minutes from The Woodman. We banked our wages of 2 weeks (£426-00, including £26-00 from Extrastaff for the day I did in the warehouse in Bracknell²) then went shopping for some of the things we will need for Africa: a pair of sneakers each (when I got home, I discovered my pair was 2 left feet!!) a backpack for Linda and some toiletries. We caught a bus back to Broxbourne & it took us in & out of the streets of Enfield, Waltham Cross & Cheshunt on its route. We rang a taxi from the Bull & it took us back to the pub in time for the evening session.

We were all cleaned up & ready to lock up when Billy’s³ girlfriend came in hysterical & saying Bill had hit her. She rang the old Bill (POLICE)⁴ & 4 of them came out & sorted things out.

¹One of the Woodman’s bar staff.

²see entry for 30/3/89

³The incorrigible Billy Harvey was the no-good son of a local farmer. He was a thief, a con-artist, liar and a part-time pikey (gypsy) who constantly caused trouble at The Woodman.

⁴The Old Bill is cockney rhyming slang for the police. Although there are many explanations for the term’s origin, the most likely is that it a shortened version of Old Bill Bailey, the slang name for the Old Bailey courthouses in London where the original London Police force were based.

11/5/89

RACK AND RUIN

We have been suffering the chaos Pauline and Eddie have caused.  It has been a week since they took over and the whole pub has gone to rack and ruin.  Linda and I are doing twice the amount of work we should be doing while Eddie stands round with a dumb look on his face and Pauline preens herself and tells everybody how “shattered” she is.

But the week hasn’t been all bad. On Monday we biked around the back roads to the little round cottage near Cheshunt with its thatched roof and overgrown garden, then back to the pub by the Beaumont footpath and “Bread and Cheese Lane.”

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Location: obvious.

Then on Tuesday, Rene¹ dropped us off at Ray and Joan’s place and we spent a couple of hours there telling them our problems. Then we walked up the street to a pub called The Anchor which is run by a guy from Lyttelton² call Neil Clifford.  We caught a bus up to Broxbourne and went for tea at Maggie’s which was really nice. Relaxed, informal and good food. We caught a taxi from The Bull³ back to the pub.

¹ One of the staff at The Woodman

²Lyttelton is a small port town on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

³ The Bull is a pub in Broxbourne that had a taxi phone outside. We often summoned a taxi from there.

4/5/89

Ray and Joan left today and have been replaced by a couple from Yorkshire called Eddy and Pauline.  We’re not sure how we are going to get on with them but they have a hard act to follow. Ray and Joan have moved back into their flat in Cheshunt and Ray is going to work for a company that makes machine tools.  We are missing them already as we got on really well with them and they helped us out lots.

Their address is 25 EDWICK COURT
HIGH ST
CHESHUNT (0992) 27789

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A map I drew of the directions to Ray and Joan’s house in Cheshunt.

2/5/89

The day was a lovely warm spring day.  Because of the shortage of staff at the pub, we worked the lunchtime session, then packed up some rolls, chocolate and a bottle of Coke and headed off on the bikes.  We rode up to the Broxbourne Woods¹ and found a spot to sit and eat our lunch in amongst the cool shade of the birch trees. When we had finished, we biked along the lanes past fields of oats, grass & horses & sheep grazing.  We stopped for a coke on the lawn of a pub called The Beehive, then went on to the little village of Little Berkhamsted. We sat in a gateway and took in the view out over the hazy, rolling,

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Field Friends.

tree-clad hills then went back into the village for a beer at The Five Horseshoes. I had a xxxx² and Linda had an AK³ shandy.  After that we rode back to The Beehive for two more beers then cycled on through the late afternoon sunshine. We stopped and walked out into a paddock and sat down and waited till curiosity got the better of the five horses, 3 Shetland ponies and a cow which inhabited the paddock. They came over and snuffled round and I took some photos of Linda and her friends – 2 little Thewell⁴ ponies & a quiet little Murray Grey⁵ heifer!  We spent ½ an hour with them then rode home.

¹The Broxbourne Woods are a 240 Ha (600 acres) reserve of birch, oak and hornbeam trees with a profusion of wildflowers forming a carpet beneath the ancient trees.

²xxxx, also known as FourEx is an Australian beer from Queensland. Australian beers were popular in Britain during the eighties and most pubs stocked at least one of them. FourEx, however, is fucking horrible so who knows why I chose it that day!

³AK is the flagship ale of the McMullens Brewery. No-one remembered what the AK stands for but local wags who disliked it reckoned it stood for All Kinds!

⁴ The pony cartoons of Norman Thelwell were a favourite of generations of pony-loving girls.

⁵Murray Grey are a breed of beef cattle.