Kindred Spirits

Well, there we all are.

From left to right, Twentyrothmans, Frank, Nisakiman, Bucko, in the White Hart in Ashton Keynes. We were perhaps one of the most unlikely band of brothers to ever be thrown together.

I’d hoped it would be a sunny day, but it wasn’t. It rained all morning, and in the afternoon when we arrived, it was still intermittently spitting. And it was quite cold too.

We alternated between sitting outside smoking (Nisakiman too!), and coming back inside to warm up. Nisakiman had said that he thought he’d be able to cope with a couple of hours, but ended up spending some 3½ hours with us.

And he was delighted to see us. And almost completely overcome when we pressed bottles of rum and champagne upon him as well.

What did we all have in common? Nothing really. We were all completely different people. But we were all smokers. And we were all exiles because of it. And we were only sitting outside on a cold wet day because that was where we had been exiled to. In a more civil era we would have spent the whole afternoon indoors, and the little pub would have been filled with smoke, and the din of conversation, and the clink of glasses.

In the crossroads outside the pub, there stood a stone column which we eventually discovered was an old preaching cross. It had a companion a few yards up the road. I suppose that preacher men would stand preaching on the pedestal to an assembled throng of villagers, teaching them the virtuous life, and contrasting virtue with the vices of the rowdy, bibulous inmates of the nearby pub. And there was a time in English history when the crosses were knocked off the tops of many of these stone crosses, perhaps by people who were sick of all the preaching done beneath them, and these two looked like they been casualties of that wave of iconoclasm.

For the liitle pub may well have been as old as the stone cross outside it. The White Hart was the personal badge of Richard II,  who reigned from 1377 to 1399. And there are lots of pubs in England called the White Hart. There are also quite a few named after the Blue Boar, the personal badge of Richard III, who was recently back in the news again, for the first time in 500 years, when his grave in Leicester was discovered.

And are things very much different today than they were 600 years ago? We still have our preacher men, and they’re still telling us what is virtue and what is vice. It’s just that these days they don’t stand ranting at crossroads, but use the pulpit of radio and TV. For the war on smoking is really just another moral crusade, dressed up as science or medicine. The medium might be different, but the message is exactly the same: we are virtuous, and you are not.

With my walking stick, anyone would think it was me who was the cancer patient. I’m a bit unsteady on my feet these days, and a walking stick helps. But I took heart from the fact that many of the ramblers who arrived at the pub also had walking sticks, although longer and extendable modern metal ones.

Did we help Nisakiman? Perhaps we did a little bit. We were a quite different set of people than the family that now surrounds him, or the doctors he consults. We were just companionable strangers, bringing beer and tobacco and conversation. We were kindred spirits. And we’d all met up before in the Smoky Drinky Bar on, a venue to which Nisakiman was the first to draw our attention.

Bucko has sent me two photos that he took (or got taken for him by the barlady) at Ashton Keynes:




And this is the preaching cross, from twentyrothmans’ facebook page. Max is on the top ledge. I’m sure there’s a close-up.


About Frank Davis

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Kindred Spirits

  1. Rose says:

    Good to see you all and add the faces to the words.

    It’s really odd meeting friends you made on the internet in real life, isn’t it? You know exactly what they think and a little of their life history, you almost have their voices in your head, but when you meet them in person it quite flummoxes you for a moment, because what you really made friends with is their brain.

    There are some delightful brains on this blog and irl you just don’t get the opportunity to meet them first.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It is indeed odd. And they look slightly different than how they appear in the Smoky Drinky Bar.

    • ” but when you meet them in person it quite flummoxes you for a moment, because what you really made friends with is their brain.”

      Yep, infact sometimes not just ‘for a moment’ the first time I met the Landlady in the flesh. Opening and closing my mouth like a deranged gold fish trying to get the words out….and that was only to ask her if she’d like a coffee! I’d probably be the same with FD and Nis.

  2. 20Rothmans is so different to how I had imagined him. IRL he has the look of a Frisian prize fighter and part time ships mechanic. Wish the photo had been clearer,hard to tell how Nis is doing-although it is encouraging to hear he could drink respectable amounts of alcohol (ie he probably isn’t on the very strong opiates/ketamine yet).

  3. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    A fine looking mini squad of dedicated soldiers in the war against the self appointed gloomy apostles of puritanical Wowserism. More power to you all, especially the stalwart Nisakiman.

  4. smokingscot says:

    Very many thanks for the photo guys.

    The White Hart’s website shows little of their beer garden.

    However at least one of their customers does. And bunged up a photo.

    • Frank Davis says:

      There were tables in the back garden, but no shelters over them, otherwise we might have been there.

      We only ordered one thing, which was tea. It arrived astonishingly quickly. It seemed like barely 2 or 3 minutes before it appeared on a tray, with teapot and cups and saucers and Garibaldi biscuits

      • smokingscot says:

        Excuse my stupid Frank.

        Are you saying the four of you spent 3.5 hours in each others company and all you had was a pot of tea and some biscuits?

        • Frank Davis says:

          Well, twentyrothmans sank quite a few pints of beer, and nisakiman had a couple of pints, and I suppose I had 3 or 4 halves of Grolsch in total. Bucko stuck to Coca Cola (he’d ordered the tea as well), but he had driven a long way, and was going to be driving a long way back.

        • Barry Homan says:

          Wish I had been present, hope Kev and everybody had a swell time.

    • Joe L. says:

      The “Street View” feature of Google Maps allows you to take a virtual walk-through of the White Hart, from the front door all the way through the bar to the beer garden out back, which also shows a covered seating area. I assume they take down the cover for winter and they probably just haven’t set it up for summer yet this year.

  5. beobrigitte says:

    Great picture, guys!!! 20Rothmans, are you pulling in a beer gut? (*giggle*)
    I hope you all had a great day – and Nisakiman, I do hope you feel as well as you look on that picture!

  6. RdM says:

    It felt a privilege to catch up with Twenty Rothmans and Bucko some hours later in the smokydrinkybar, perhaps 10-11 hours later, both back at home after a couple or several hours travel – and have a bit of a catch-up, chat, conversation, after that event.

    Items discussed – (I have thought earlier that there might be an opening for items discussed – including trailed off or mentioned and forgotten – in the sbd blog itself, but that’s another story) – indeed that monument, er edifice, what was the history, also just where the pub was:

    Also lightning, theories about lightning striking church spires, & etc.
    And that photo shown;- maybe there is a better resolution one available.
    And so good to share, be shared with the gossip.

    Nisiakiman, I hope they didn’t wear you out, but it must have been a delight to all meet?

    I wonder if flooding well or introducing to your system various – er, health, alternative, fresh raw foods juices vitamins god knows what (or Dr Google) would help, at all, may be a little or lot?
    Alternative treatments? Advanced treatments? Actual attitude, I will beat this!!! ?

    Not sure what I would do, or be able to do, even though I have niggles already, if I had some such diagnosis, prognosis, from their depressing side.

    There are encouraging stories, you know that, and flushing the body of toxins and ingesting new healthy stuff may be a real help, miraculous?, if you could get in to those ideas and information sources, and why not?

    Approached intelligently… and with an open mind? (limits, don’t let brains fall out!;-)

    A positive attitude.

    Death would be a fucking nuisance for me right now, I’m not ready, I have too many things to do and things to sort out. That’s how I feel, and think. I haven’t even made a will yet!

    Yet elsewhere I read, “Death is a perfect insult”.
    What does it mean… ? It could come at any time?

    Don’t give up yet N-Man, try all sorts of flooding in goodness, mental attitude, open to ideas.
    And (should that be fooding in goodness?) it’s an interesting balance between say alcohol opiates (or whatever the pain meds are if any prescribed) and anything deemed psychedelic… ;-)

    And natural foods, juices, supplements, and all that.
    Please forgive me that little rave. Sorry it was so public!
    Maybe you can overcome this,

    At least, maybe discover new possibilities.

    I don’t know what else to say, write, right now.

    Except to wish you all the best possible!

  7. RdM says:


    I bounced from Grandad’s site to I think and found this amazing artwork, which seemed to me perfectly representative of the world that Tobacco Control aspires to for us!

    I hope she’ll forgive me hot-linking to the image, her work, read more about her here and explore the site (like, About) for yourself:

  8. Emily says:

    Great photo, and wonderful to see you all together. I look forward to catching up with everyone in SDB. Everyone is looking good! Nisakiman, best wishes to you and hope you enjoyed the visit.

  9. Clicky says:

  10. nisakiman says:

    Yes, kindred spirits indeed. A very disparate group, and one meeting in the flesh for the first time.

    And yet that wasn’t the way it was. It was like we were old friends who had sat talking over a pint innumerable times before. There wasn’t any awkwardness. No searching for something to say. No drying up of conversation. Just a very natural, easy situation. Frank mentioned that I was there for more than three hours, but I would happily have spent another couple of hours chewing the fat with such excellent company.

    I was so pleased that the guys made such an effort, to come all the way they did just to see me. A humbling experience, and one which I’ll never forget.

    It raised my spirits massively. Thank you Peter, Bucko and Frank. I cannot adequately describe how much that visit meant to me.

    And thank you also to all the supportive comments that have been left here on Frank’s blog. I read and appreciate them all.

    • Vlad says:

      Glad to hear you all shared a new adventure

    • garyk30 says:

      Many of us were there in spirit, you just could not see us!!!!

    • buckothemoose says:

      It was an absolute pleasure all the way mate
      I loved hearing some of the stories too. For someone like myself who has lived in their town of birth all their life and doesn’t plan to do otherwise until retirement, listening to the stories of far flung countries and nutty escapades from the jungles of East Asia to the highways of Australia, was very entertaining to say the least

  11. Dmitri says:

    A photo of talented and powerful people. Go on writing, all of you, Nisakiman especially!

  12. Lepercolonist says:

    Uplifting to see kindred spirits. Smokers of the World Unite !

  13. Pingback: Trying To Light A Cigarette | Frank Davis

  14. Carol42 says:

    So glad you all got together, it sounds great fun. I miss the nights and conversations we used to have in the pub before the ban.

  15. Philip Neal says:

    It was very good to read about this, and also to see what some of the people here look like! Wish I could have been there.

  16. Joe L. says:

    It’s great to see the four of you together! It’s as if the Smoky Drinky Bar malfunctioned and teleported all of you to the White Hart! Unfortunately it didn’t beam you out of the UK to bar where you could actually smoke inside, away from the elements. Nevertheless, I’m happy to hear you all had a splendid time together in the flesh!

  17. Pingback: Grief | Frank Davis

  18. Pingback: A New Minority | Frank Davis

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.