The Holy of Holies

by Stuart "Sticky" Leach


Lost in the mists of time or an alcoholic haze, I cannot recall how I became the Barstard (Bar Steward) in my second year 1972 taking over from Steve Hatton and Mike Morrey. I do know that the Sunday morning ritual was to clean the two draught beer pumps and check the quality of the beer after cleaning (In the interest of health and hygiene you understand) before the pre lunch opening. Students and possible guests would assemble for a snifter or two before convening for formal Sunday Lunch. Dressing smartly was the order of the day as was customary grace by a Proctor before we ate. Drinks were signed for on chitties put behind the bar for settling up later.

I remember at about that time a number of us went to a presentation, where the ind Coope brewery hoped to attract our custom away from our former supplier. We were duly met and greeted with half pint glasses and invited to sample the available ales (A bit like the rugby match against the Royal Marine commando trainees at Lympstone when an officer signed a chit in the bar and we were invited to drink). Predictably we tried the beers several times in case our first taste was mistaken… and I forget the rest except that we changed suppliers – and he refurbed the bar.

One of the perks (!) was a box of four stemmed pint lager glasses. Being only four I left them untouched in the cupboard and when I handed over Bar Steward duties to Tim Cottle I took them with me. One glass remains still being used!

One evening a call came through to the telephone under the stairs. I was called and squeezed into the booth.

“Ah, Ah Leach?”

“Yes Sir Richard.”

“Ah, Ah do you have a bottle of rum there?

“Yes Sir Richard”

“I’ll send someone over for it”

It was only at our recent Zoom meeting I remembered my one and only conversation with him. Momentous times. I have no idea if he even paid me for it!

In one bar committee meeting we were talking about an event to be held and the lovely chance that many women would attend. Our thoughts turned to extra ordering for the event and I duly ordered a ladies drink, a crate of Babycham. These small Bambi covered bottles remained unopened, unloved, unwanted through the rest of my tenure, until, fed up of the sight of them and the space being taken up in the cupboard, I gradually drank the lot. Don’t tell anyone!

After particular heavy sessions, boat races etc, the flag stones served a very useful purpose. Buckets of water liberally thrown around the floor and then swept out the French doors made cleaning remarkably easy, The difficult bit was then making certain the detritus was spread around the flower and shrub beds some further distance away. How anything grew is beyond my comprehension!

Due to get married in the August of my final year 1974, I had a stag party in the bar. Copious amounts were consumed and a good time was had by me and my “friends” who were putting spirits in the top of my pints. Drunkenly outraged I declared I could get smashed without the aid of chasers. I drained my glass and in the properly approved manner upended my glass on top of my head. It slipped off and down my back. I reached behind, caught the glass and with a flourish put it on where I thought the bar was. It missed and shattered on the floor. Hilarity all round!

Finally I must mention the ongoing board games. “Risk” was particularly popular with games going on for many hours/days with relays of players taking over a position as lectures (they always got in the way) needed to be attended