Bursting through the door of the Fox and Hounds, we immediately notice that it is a very popular and busy pub and I can see that we might have to wait a few moments before being served. The customers in the Fox and Hounds are very polite and they swiftly get out of our way as, shouting apologies and yelling that it is an emergency, we kick and punch our way through the crowd, shouting that we are sorry about the door but we will pay for a new one.
At the bar, I am delighted to see Bev, the owner of the pub and one of our top agents. She tells us that her friends, Molly Malone, from the Naked Man, and Mickey Finn, from the Man in the Moon, said that we were in the area, so she has been expecting us. I order beer for everyone, as an apology for the damage, disruption and injuries we may have caused, and a crate of Teaninich Private reserve and, on Bev’s recommendation, seven plates of fish and chips with homemade tartare sauce and pea puree, with extra fish, chips, tartare sauce and pea puree, nine steak and ale pies, with extra ale, steak and pie, twelve Swaledale sausage rings with creamy chive mash with real ale gravy, with added real ale, and extra mash, sausage, rings, and gravy, nineteen servings of smoky bacon and poached egg with baked flat cap mushrooms and black pudding, with double mushrooms, pudding, bacon and poached egg, for Fatty, and a plate of battered gherkins for the rest of us.
Five minutes later, just as we are starting on a new crate of Teaninich, Tam runs into the bar to report that he saw a train. Relaxing in a very friendly pub, with a choice of the best real ales in the county and a crate of vintage single malt in front of us, we aren’t interested in Tam and his peculiar obsession with trains, but Tam insists on telling us that the train he saw was the East Coast Scottish Express, hauled by N.E.R. “V” class Atlantic, climbing Benton Bank, near Newcastle, and he looks at us as if this means something. Juan tells him to sit down, have a drink and a gherkin and shut up. Tam shouts that we don’t understand, the East Coast railway line doesn’t go anywhere near Bramhope and Bramhope isn’t even close to Benton Bank, which means we must be in the wrong place.
As we are in a very pleasant pub with a convivial atmosphere, delicious food and a fabulous selection of alcoholic beverages, it is obvious and very easy to understand that, whatever Tam thinks, we are in precisely the right place; everyone agrees and, raising our glasses, we offer toast after toast to Bev and her wonderful pub, I order more whisky and ale for everyone, Juan inflates his bagpipes and plays ‘Hunting the Lowlander’ ‘Set the Hounds on the Sassenach’ and other brutal Highland hunting songs, while I lead the dancing as we all charge hysterically around the Fox and Hounds as fast as we possibly can.
Professor Humperdink’s Diary