Driving through Castleford, on a cold and damp Thursday evening in late November, it looked very much like the town the Specials sang about, back in 1980. I’d driven past the pub many times over the years. I’d never been in, just another town centre pub, or is it?
Now I hadn’t been to Cas Vegas for a while and I’d heard all about The Junction from David Litten and others, so I wasn’t surprised to find it choc a bloc at eight o’clock. Fair enough it wasn’t a normal Thursday evening session and a lot of people had turned up for the launch of British Guild of Beer writers member, David Litten’s first book, From Junk to Junction.
Looking around, you couldn’t miss the massed CAMRA and SPBW members, familiar faces from beer festivals and the like. There were polo shirts and merchandise on sale with The Junction logo on them, and a lot of people wearing them. There was even a guy from Finland amongst the regular customers.
Several local celebrities were in attendance; Ian Clayton, writer, TV presenter and Junction regular, officiated as MC. Barrie Pepper commended David on his achievement and presented him with a copy of his own book about his father’s pub.
Now I’ve emailed Mr Pepper because I’d like to get hold of this particular book because it’s given me a really good idea around my Dad’s old pub. If only I was as brave as David in not only writing it, but then going down the self publishing route.
Thankfully, owing to many kind donations, his costs look like they have all been covered and any profits will be going to the Alzheimer’s charity. I take my hat off to David here because he has put a lot of work into this book which I know is the result of tremendous dedication, enthusiasm and a true labour of love.
I’m not sure exactly what the highlight of the evening was, there were several to be fair. Firstly the community singing led by Rich Jones and accompanied by maestro Colin Williams, resplendent in white tux’ and red dickie, on the piano. The mucky fat on bread deserves a proper mention. That’s Dripping on bread, with a sprinkling of salt, to the uninitiated and it was delightful. In addition to the excellent speeches, David presented Landlady Maureen with a bouquet which was a nice touch.
Colin Williams said he came in on the first day that licensees, Neil and Maureen opened up and has often played the piano on evenings when they have had a ‘bit of a do’. Like a lot of others, although he doesn’t live in Castleford he regularly makes the trip to The Junction for a pint and good company. I commented on the words of the pub anthems. These were put to Lionel bart’s Food Glorious Food by Rich who is a regular who possesses a great deal of knowledge about the boozer and beer in general, he also penned the poem, An A – Z of The Junction which is on the rear cover of Mr Litten’s book. Not only a good singer, but an erudite gentleman as well. The only thing that sort of unsettled me was Ernie sat on his shoulder. Now it isn’t the first time I’ve seen a parrot in a pub. It’s just that I don’t think you ever get over the novelty of seeing a parrot at liberty in a public space.
If you’ve never been to The Junction I strongly recommend you get yourselves along to sample the excellent real ales from the wood. If you want to know more about this unique pub, ideally before you visit, then you need to get yourself a copy of Mr Littens book, £7.50 over the bar or £10 by post, email David at firstname.lastname@example.org or read his own account of the evening at A Swift One for full details.