John Denny recalls Mervyn (surname forgotten) who ran the Earl of Derby, Hills Road, Cambridge in the 1980s. John describes the public bar then being a centre of equal opportunity as Mervyn hurled abuse at all who drank there, however regular. Amongst the offences which John himself recalls committing were ordering a pint of Mild and asking for a Kit-Kat kept on a high shelf, both of which resulted in much invective. Sometimes he would just disappear into the back room to watch TV and only emerge when his wife yelled at him to go back and serve the customers. John especially recalls the time when a coach pulled into the car park and about 60 people got off. The first passenger entered, all smiles, until Mervyn shouted "You can all eff off. I'm not serving all you lot". Ironically, these performances only took place in the Public, then frequented by bus company staff, postal workers and a few masochistic regulars. In the Lounge, where the clientele was mostly office workers, Mervyn was the epitome of politeness - so John sometimes went in there to order his Mild, thereby obliging a deferential service which he reckons Mervyn must have hated - though he suspects the rudeness was essentially an act and not actual malice.

John also mentions a barman in the Anchor, Silver Street, who was given to skimming your pint along the counter, Western saloon style - what happened if you failed to catch it, he never found out.

Graham Coleman has sent in some terrific memories of Cambridge pubs in the 1960s and 1970s. The Fountain was then a Scottish & Newcastle pub where hordes went to sup Newcastle Brown Ale. The landlord, small and with greased-down hair, resembled Jack Nicholson as the Penguin, whilst his wife was an Andy Capp caricature, 1940s hairstyle and ciggy on lips. Graham doesn't remember the staff in the Criterion, Market Passage (now a wine bar), apart from their habit of collecting the dregs to top up the Mild, but he does recall the juke box in the big back room playing Carmen, Verdi and other classical favourites. The Eagle was run by Major Robbie, a stout, blazered military chap, who had a fresh carnation delivered daily from Covent Garden for his button-hole. Graham's first home was near the Coach & Horses, Trumpington (now a restaurant) which he visited almost daily as being the best place to eat locally ("Oh the meringues!"). The landlord had a smart dress code and encouraged political debate.

The Pickerel was then a Watneys pub so avoided by Graham, but it's a part of his family history as in the 1930s his relatives ran not only the pub but the funeral parlour at the back. Nearby, the Baron of Beef was in the hands of Bob Wass, a dapper, chirpy raconteur, whose regulars included, for a time, Griff Rhys Jones, Clive Anderson, Rory McGrath and other Footlights personnel (I dare say Rory still pops in from time to time).

At the Fort St George (then still In England) landlord Alan left the running of the pub mostly to the locals whilst he acted more as a customer, unless he wanted an early night, in which case he'd just close up. Finally, the Bath, Bene't Street, was presided over by George Hogarth, who claimed direct descendancy from the Rakes Progress painter. The pub was then multi-roomed and he ran one bar (a magnet for punters on Newmarket race days) and his wife, a Glaswegian former variety dancer, ran the other, with help from a bevy of "tasty barmaids".

Finally, our Branch Secretary, Ian Kitching, fondly recalls the regime (1977-1988) of Peter and Jane Chilcott at the Mill, Cambridge. Despite the honey-pot position by the Mill Pond, they maintained a great regulars-friendly place, those regulars including sportsmen like Derek Pringle, Rob Andrew, Mark Bailey and Gavin Hastings. The Chilcotts organised many outings, sometimes by open-top bus, with a memorable trip being that to the pub's parent brewery, Tolly Cobbold, in Ipswich (the Mill offered excellent Tolly ale). A scene from the TV series Porterhouse Blue was also filmed there.

Many thanks to John, Graham and Ian for their memories and if anyone else has local pub tales to share, I'd love to hear them.