The art of conversation is something we excel at in The Tharp Arms and some of our late-night Saturday conversations can be extremely random, weird, wonderful and downright bizarre. Over the years that Ali and I have run the pub we have discussed most topics, lamenting the demise of the English football team, nodding sagely at the inexperience of Lewis Hamilton as he failed to win his first world title (even worse, forcing me to eat cheese the day Lewis didn’t, unbelievably, win Sports Personality Of The Year) and on to topics such as the existential matter of life on other planets and whether anybody has actually finished A Brief History Of Time, by Stephen Hawking.
On one occasion we even used some string, a spring, two bottles of Tesco furniture cleaner and several drawing pins to create a pulley system around the bar to emulate a counterweight that would allow a couple of guys to lift a big clock from its surroundings so that it could be repaired, and then went straight on to discuss whether Posh Spice can possibly be wearing knickers underneath those tight leather jeans she’s often seen in.
But last night was very unusual. As Oxford went on to give Cambridge a rather heavy drubbing on a rain-swept River Thames, the telephone rang and Barmaid Amy passed it across to me.
The screen displayed international and so, not unreasonably, I expected it to be a call from India. “Hello,” said this female English voice as I answered the call. “We’re a group of people in Venice who are wondering if you can help us.”
Intrigued, I encouraged her to go on. “We’re having a bit of a debate here, can you tell us: is the landlord of The Tharp Arms the nephew of Paul Daniels or not?”
It isn’t a particular secret, my relationship to my uncle. There’s a couple of photos of him up in the bar and when we moved in to the pub he came up and did a bit of an opening for us, posing for photos in the local press. It even mentions it on the pub’s website. But still, a call from overseas to try and clarify this did seem a touch unusual. If their Saturday evening in Venice was getting off early to discussions about pub landlords and their relationships to famous magicians, you have to wonder what they ended up talking about by the end of the night…
“Yes I am,” I confirmed for her and, when she repeated this to the group she was with, there were several triumphant shouts in the background.
Unfortunately, the call was cut off before I had chance to ask how the hell they’d got to talking about me and my uncle whilst enjoying a Saturday night in Italy. I’ve got no idea who they are, whether they’re locals to the Newmarket area who are holidaying abroad or somebody who was randomly Googling Paul Daniels and came up with the pub’s website and wanted to check it out.
So, if you’re one of the group that were enjoying discussions about British pubs and famous magicians last night, drop me a line and satiate my customers’ curiosities. We’re all wondering how that topic came about!
I relayed the story to several customers as the evening wore on, but none responded better than Little Dave, who chuckled to himself:
“Venice,” he laughed, as he bit in to his cheeseburger. “I’ve never been to Spain!”