Saturday, 16 August 2008

"Why is Newark no ordinary place?"

These words were uttered in an episode of medieval crime drama Cadfael. "Tell me, why is Newark no ordinary place?"

There's a simple answer to that question. Because it's where I grew up. While it was still a brewing town. Not that I particularly realised it at the time. I had wondered what that funny smell was that wafted over the school playing fields most days. But I was never intrigued quite enough to ask. Only after I started working at the Castle Brewery did I realise the source.

I would say that it's the people that make Newark out of the ordinary. That peculiar race of inbred, violent halfwits who lurk in its less salubrious pubs. Chavs. Newark is the home of chavs. Quite literally. The word comes from Newark slang. As in the phrase, "Ey up, chav!", a typical Newark greeting. It was quite disconcerting the first time I heard "chav" used on the television. "What has the world come to, when they speak in Newark slang on the telly?" I thought.

Civil War earthworks. Newark has the best preserved examples. Sconce Hills, for example. The town was besieged for most of the Civil War, hence all the earthworks. Newark picked the wrong side, hence the ruined castle.

Malting, that was another of the town's big industries, along with brewing. There are still a few crumbling maltings, all long disused. Watney's brewed using Newark malt back in the 1880's. At least according to Barnard. And he should know. I wonder if I should be proud or ashamed of that?

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