Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Milton & The Red Elephant

I hear that it was John Milton's birthday yesterday. There is a massive gap in my education over this seventeenth century poet, and I know practically nothing about him accept he was blind, thought it a good idea to take King Charles I head off and invented baby bottle sterilising liquid. Has anyone actually read Paradise Lost and finished it with a sigh and said "Ooh I could read that all over again". Sorry for my obviously philistine views, but as the history master says to Michael Travis, in the first lesson after the summer hols in Lindsay Anderson's film if...: " I lost your essay somewhere in the Mont Blanc Tunnel, but I'm sure it was good". So why the Fremlins label? Well, all I could think about Milton when they were going on about him on the Today programme this morning was A.E.Housman's lines from A Shropshire Lad. In poem LXII he writes: Oh many a peer of England brews / Livelier liquor than the Muse/ And malt does more than Milton can / To justify God's ways to man. / Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink...etc. So I rifled through the draws and found this label that had miraculously failed to get itself stuck on a cask. Afficianados of this extinct Kent brewer and readers of Unmitigated England will find a contemporary Fremlins dray loaded up with the stuff on page 97. Cheers! And Happy Birthday Milton.

16 comments:

Jon Dudley said...

Ho, ho, ho! What a disguise Mr.A. And a lovely cask lable too. Sadly I am old enough to remember Fremlins and their sturdy Elephant image. Super typography, no unnecessary frills or ornamentation, a nice sans serif font...does what it says on the cask. Remember Fremlins Double Elephant Brown Ale?...come to think of it, Double Elephant was a drawing paper size as well.

Peter Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Ashley said...

That was me deleting a query about it being a cask, until I looked at the label again properly. Thankyou Jon, it's been amended.

Vincent said...

Fremlins - most of the pubs in Hastings and St Leonards had that elephant sign outside. But I was a child so never ventured inside. Bittered without hops? So what was it bittered with? How could it boast of no hops in a county noted for its oast houses and thus for its hop-gardens?

Vincent said...

Whoops. I misread it as saying bittered entirely without hops. I shall leave my foolishness online.

Vincent said...

that Graham Crowden (the said history master in if...) hasn't aged a bit as shown in his cameo appearance in Calendar Girls, 2003.

Jon Dudley said...

And whilst we're on addendum and errata...I should be able to spell 'label' by now. Sorry sir.

Peter Ashley said...

Boys! Boys! You at the back there. Dudley! Vincent!

I've always loved C.Crowden since he rode his bike into the classroom in '...if'. And his manic performances in No.2 of Anderson's trilogy, 'O Lucky Man!' which I still think has the best ending of any film I've seen.

A F-A said...

The 'please cork and return the cask' bit has given me an idea. Supposing all cans and bottles of beer had a small 'deposit' added onto the price, refundable on return of the empties. Then people wouldn't throw them into landfill sites, and we would save the world. Nah...on reflection, it would never work.

Peter Ashley said...

Nice idea AF-A, like the old Corona bottles we used to return without mum's knowledge to the Worthington's shop at the end of the road in order to get cashback on each bottle. But I think I'd miss empty Kestrel cans under park benches, one of the things I look out for to remind me of Ron Combo.

Jon Dudley said...

When I were now't but a lad and working on the dustcart in Seaford during my holidays, amongst our perks were the 'returnable empties' that people chucked because they couldn't be arsed to take 'em back. Kept me in 'Guards' ciggies. There was also a very nice lady who would leave us a couple of quart bottles of light ale (rubber screwtops) for looking after her especially well. She wasn't returnable.

Vincent said...

Sorry for this not being English nostalgia, but it has themic relevance.

I once stopped on a country road in Sabah (North Borneo) at a little stall selling bottled soft drinks. Would we be drinking them there? the girl asked. No, they were for later. Would we be passing back by the same route? Possibly not. So she poured the contents into small plastic bags, added straws and tied elastic bands around the tops, before returning the empty bottles to the crates.

The empties must have been suitably priced.

Peter Ashley said...

Good story Vincent, thankyou. And Jon: Would it surprise you to know that I have an unopened packet of 10 Guards?

Jon Dudley said...

Nothing at all would surprise me about you, Peter.

I have a Guards packet which carries the autograph of the late Seamus Ennis, renowned Irish piper and wonderful bloke.

Adam said...

'Milton in America' by Peter Ackroyd is a good place to start, but whether it is accurate or not is completely another matter. On the subject of cigarettes, are there any purely British brands left?

Peter Ashley said...

Welcome Adam. I imagine there's still many original British cigarette brands out there, but now mutilated beyond reason into Government 'Health Warnings'. The thing is, where are they made? I can't imagine it's much of a back street industry any more; Players have gone from Nottingham and so I imagine they're all made in Taiwan or somewhere. Prove me wrong someone.