Thursday, January 31, 2008

All Ship Shape And Broadstairs Fashion

I print the above picture in response to a recent letter in one of the local free rags complaining about "things changing"at the good ship HMS Fart and Leggit on Broadstairs jetty. The author, whose principal concern seemed to be to display his knowledge of obscure Dickens quoatations about the place, moaned that it had been painted a "dazzling white" so obscuring the centuries of grime and sea-shantiness soaked up in its hallowed walls. In fact the place was given a coat (possibly two in places) of your standard pub "cream" last Summer -which goes to show how regular the correspondent had been moved to visit. Having danced around the frighteningly jolly painters as they carried out the work during regular opening hours I can assure anyone concerned that even their efforts could not totally remove the nicotine layers of the years (Ah, happy days). Already the "cream" is clotting into a familiar pub brown sepia.
There was also the complaint that the "F" word was discomfortingly audible on a song playing on the (excellent) juke box. Short of getting rid of the juke or having staff vet all tracks supplied by the servicing company it is difficult to see how this offence (which I accept it is) could be prevented. I am sure some would favour the removal of machine music -and there are arguements both ways. But if I follow the sentiment of the letter writer correctly, the essence of the Tart and Biggot is that it is a pub that is in the heart of the community it serves and which has weathered the ravages of time largely unchanged. It still performs this function admirably today as anyone visiting the three very different bar areas downstairs or the top rated fish restaurant above will clearly see, provided they come with no preconceptions of a "Mr Pickwick Pub". As to the complainent's belief that in his time Dickens would have been very unlikely to have heard the "F" word uttered in the place, I think he has wholly the wrong idea about the sensibilities of the great social commentator of his day and the working class of his time.
If you want to complain about anything in the old tub then I (and many others) have brought the state of the "heads" to the attention of mine host on many ocassions.


Anonymous said...

From what little I understand of ol' Charley's day he'd've 'eard a lot worse cussin' than that.

Eastcliff Richard said...

I saw that letter too. My only complaint about the place would be that it used to have a lovely, rich aroma of tobacco smoke. The scent of 'Leyland white barley' these days just doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid.