It is time that a new character is introduced, one Basil Upson. Bas, to his buddies, Bas was the innkeeper of the ‘Wagon and Horses’, a hostelry on the main road between Faringdon and Oxford, The “wagon” like Uncles Eric’s pub ‘the Harrow” and my fathers pub “the Hare” was also a Morland house.

Bas was a cockney (a Londoner born within audible range of Bow bells for you merkins). Bas like Uncle Eric was a truly tasteless character, who (again like Uncle Eric) viewed the drinking public as the enemy, willing victims, sheep on route to the slaughter house. One of Bas’s pet peeves were ‘victims’ who apparently could not differentiate between a pub and a restaurant (even though there was a bloody great big sign outside advertising food). I happened to be in the Wagon one lunchtime when some “canon fodder” wandered in, obviously lured by the enormous sign advertising food. Bas approaches the victim, I sense tension in the air, Bas says “wotcha want a drink ?”, the hapless victim replies “may I see the menu please?”, Bas’s eyes widen, oh oh, looks like trouble. Bas trots out his favorite response when faced with this kind of dilemma, “this is a fackin pub not a fackin restaurant”. Bas always was a silver tongued devil. Victim up’s and literally runs out.

One of my favorite Bas tales was one that he shared with me during a “BSDC”[tm] session (Basils Sunday Drinking Club It will be explained soon). Back in the bad old 70’s the licensing laws of merrie olde England stipulated the exact times that a public house can be open, Although it varied from county to county it basically said that you opened at 10:30 AM and closed at 2:30 PM, then reopened at 5:30 PM till 10:30 PM. Over the years there has been much speculation about how and why England needed a dry patch in the afternoon. My favorite explanation is that by closing the pub, the workers go back to work instead of staying all afternoon in the pub. Anyhow the 3 hours of peace in the afternoon were always a tranquil time for every publican I have ever known, Uncle Eric, my father, Bas, Cousin Brian (still doing it in Charney Basset), etc,etc.

The deal is, throw the lunchtime drunks out and go and have a nap. So, Bas gets rid of the lunchtime lushes and retires to his bedroom. In that twilight zone of wake and sleep Bas realizes that some one is kissing him on the lips. Hmm, thinks Bas, it must be Toni (his long suffering wife). Odd thinks Bas, Toni is not usually amorous in the afternoon. Another big wet smacker on the lips and Bas wakes up. It’s not Toni it’s one of the “FACKIN” goats. Bas discovers to his chagrin that he is sharing his bed with a fackin goat. Incensed he gets up, while booting the goat down the stairs (two story establishment) discovers that he was not the first object of the oats affection. the “fackin” goat had eaten all of the rubber plants (a horticultural staple in British pubs). Two weeks later I noticed that the goats were gone, I am sure it was coincidental.

BSDC, Basils Sunday Drinking Club, another special, no unique, never to be repeated experience. Bas worked six and a half days a week, but on Sunday evenings he joined ‘the right side’ of the bar. The club consisted of about 10 people, with about half a dozen of us being charter members. The hard core members being Bas (well it was his place!), Peter (my father in law), boring Bill (too boring to explain here, maybe I’ll devote a whole story to Bill), and myself.
In them bad ol 70’s the pub had to close at 10:30 on Sunday evenings, weeellllll what Bas did was throw out the punters, close the curtains, turn the lights down and continue to party. Bas’s major problem (particularly in later years) was that he had no staying power  (according to Toni anyway), and by about 11:00  or 11:15 Bas would be ready for bed. Now you might assume this would mean the end of the evening, not so, Bas would put his big bunch of keys on the bar, and basically the last person to leave had to lock up and then post the keys through the letterbox. I’ve woken up on a few Monday morning feeling less than crisp after a Sunday session with Bas.

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