Welcome to the penultimate episode of our current Tale for Our Time - Jerome K Jerome's 1889 medley of cruising and musing. In tonight's not quite concluding installment of Three Men in a Boat, our trusty narrator indulges in a little America Alone-style demographic digression:
In St. Nicholas Church, at Abingdon, there is a monument to John Blackwall and his wife Jane, who both, after leading a happy married life, died on the very same day, August 21, 1625; and in St. Helen's Church, it is recorded that W. Lee, who died in 1637, "had in his lifetime issue from his loins two hundred lacking but three." If you work this out you will find that Mr. W. Lee's family numbered one hundred and ninety-seven. Mr. W. Lee—five times Mayor of Abingdon—was, no doubt, a benefactor to his generation, but I hope there are not many of his kind about in this overcrowded nineteenth century.
England would strike Jerome K Jerome as even more overcrowded in the twenty-first century, but not because Englishmen's loins are issuing on the scale of Mayor Lee. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read this penultimate installment of our tale simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
For reasons at least partially connected to some of those demographic developments, the English pub is in steep decline in many parts of that bibulous realm. So I was delighted to see that Mr Jerome's mention of the George & Dragon in Wargrave prompted a whole slew of saloon-bar correspondence, starting with a patron of the very same hostelry (and a First Month Founding Member of the Steyn Club) Richard Bassett:
Dined at St. George and the Dragon in Wargrave last Friday, it was packed on a very English summer's evening. I had the lamb kofta in an act of dining appropriation.
Cheers to you, Richard! Dan, an Ontario member of the Steyn Club, adds:
The Saracen's Head in Old Amersham, is an old treasure, with accommodation. For London members or tourists , I recommend the Met Line (or Chiltern from Marylebone) to Chorleywood, then walk the Misse Valley or several alternate routes, checking out where Roman works and villas were sited, Milton's home, King John's pied-a-terre, and being approached by legions of friendly domesticated animals of all varieties. If the prospect of donning the wellies has faded after a few cleansing ales, just catch the tube back from New Amersham :) Ordnance survey maps on iPad work wonders.
Separate note, pub names are frequently 'corrupted' versions of very Christian-y names, like the Goat and Compasses ( Dorset I think) which was 'God encompasseth us'.
Does God still encompass England? We'll leave that one for another day. If you'd like to join Dan and Richard in The Mark Steyn Club, you'll find more details here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership. Please join me tomorrow evening for the conclusion of Three Men in a Boat - and, hard on its audio-only heels, a full week of Steyn telly, starting on Monday morning with "Fox & Friends" at 8.30am Eastern/5.30am Pacific, and continuing that evening with an hour in the anchor's chair on "Tucker Carlson Tonight".