Monday, May 30, 2011

How My Curiosity Was Reignited And My Premature Retirement Was Curtailed By A Freemason And A Brewer

It's all very well this retirement lark but after a time it all becomes too much of a muchness. One shop merges into another, one daytime TV series about property development morphs into another about antique collecting. Days line up in uniform columns marking a featureless trail to oblivion. There is nothing to get your teeth into - which is just as well as your teeth probably fell out from lack of use the day before yesterday. I became so busy doing nothing that I hadn't time to blog, and the longer your blog remains silent, the louder that silence becomes. You can't break such a profound silence with something inconsequential, something trivial. You must wait until you solve the mystery of Fermat's Last Theorem or at least the mystery of what makes Nick Clegg tick.

The problem with all this is that if my blogging is about anything it is about trivia : it is a hymn to the inconsequential, a paean to the meaningless. I don't do grand announcements, I do pointless asides. I'm a stream of semi-consciousness blogger. Too much thought can become terminal for me and my kind.

I was vaguely thinking about this earlier this evening - you see what I mean, I have been thinking far too much for my own good - whilst digitally flicking through some photographs I took in Todmorden last week. You know me, I am always drawn to pubs or buildings that used to be pubs, and I had taken a picture of what used to be the Freemason's Arms (some ne're-do-well has now turned it into flats). And there, on the central pediment, was a stone plaque stating in its own ornamental way, BMB Ltd or possibly MBB Ltd. Obviously the name of a brewer, but which? It was not one I was familiar with, and I pride myself with being over-familiar with many a brewer. So I dug and delved, looked up this and looked up that until I eventually solved the mystery. Whilst the original Freemason's Arms dated back to the 1830s, it was eventually sold in 1913 to the Burnley brewing firm of Edward Stocks Massey. They pulled the old pub down and the new building was erected in 1923. It was one of the first brick buildings in Todmorden - stone is the traditional building material in these parts - and for this reason it was always known as the "Red House". When the new building was erected, whilst brick was used for the main fabric, stone was reserved for the two important inscriptions - the name of the pub (The Freemason's Arms) and the sign of the brewers (Massey's Burnley Brewery or MBB). I felt a small wave of satisfaction at solving this little mystery, the kind of satisfaction I would in the past bore all my blogging friends with.

And then I thought, why not? It's time I came back. This retirement lark can be put off until another day. To hell with the important, long live the inconsequential.

18 comments:

  1. This is wonderful trivia and I'm so glad for it, especially since it just took over one of my brain cells formerly occupied by some trivia about Brittney Spears. This is much more useful and interesting.

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  2. Massey's was still brewing in the middle-to-late 60's.I remember the odd spot of under-age drinking in Burnley![beer always tasted better to a 16 year old!]

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  3. I love these posts, Alan. They're the next best thing to a natter over a pint.

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  4. Wow you really know the facts and go digging until you find
    What it is others may have left behind
    Yeah can't go fully retired
    Have to say hooked in a bit and well wired..lol

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  5. Long live the inconsequential, indeed! While some of the blogs I follow have a pleasant sameness in subject matter, I appreciate those that show the variety of interests their authors possess. (Like your blog, and hopefully, my own!) Therefore, anything you deem important enough to come back for is important enough!

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  6. Alan....do NOT retire from blogging! Don't you know how much we love your blogs, semi-conscious or not. And as for trivia....there are many kinds but your so-called trivia is important, interesting and entertaining stuff.

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  7. Christine H : I don't think a Burnley brewer has ever been compared to Brittney Spears before.
    Tony : I know what you mean about drinking when you were 16 - I used to enjoy a pint of BYB about that age.

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  8. Martin : And one day we will have that natter over a real pint, that's a promise my friend.
    Patt H : I won't, oh curse, I wish I could say that in verse.

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  9. Silver : I like the idea that our minds wander down similar byways - and I am rather proud to find myself in such company.
    Lo : I won't retire, I promise - I enjoy it far too much.

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  10. Being oblivious and alone is the alternative. Blogging is really a way to muster up the creative juices that go dormant and all the vocabulary fades away to grunts. I do get sporadic in my muse but I won't jump off the cliff just yet. Take care and stop thinking so much.

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  11. Long live the inconsequential and the everyday! It's for posts like this that we all come back day after day. Keep up the fantastic work, Alan.

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  12. Time will show which has more consequence, Massey's Burnley Brewery or Brittney's tweet.

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  13. Alan, with your gift of language, the inconsequential becomes the sublime. You are a treasure, Mr. Burnett

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  14. As the resident expert on being irrelevant and inconsequential, I can state your musings are anything but. And if you're trying to claim they are, I shall have to sue you for trademark infringement.

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  15. You have a way of making the "inconsequential" supremely interesting, even in your "stream of semi-consciousness." Damn, I wish I'd thought of that line.

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  16. Love it. It's amazing how fast history disintegrates--even when it isn't being made up out of whole cloth. Right here a group of us stood around trying to remember what used to be in a lot that has now been a new coffeehouse for three years. We couldn't come up with it. Please come visit with your mad sleuthing skills and patch up our memories.

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  17. You're far from inconsequential you're nature's gentleman and I love your pub malarky. Retirement can be a busy place, you need to blog for a little R & R

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  18. Long live the inconsequential. I love this trivia stuff so keep writing it. And of course anything about beer..

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