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Thursday 7 September 2023

The Wheatsheaf

Today's derelict pub is The Wheatsheaf, a hostelry on the edge of Altrincham, a town that has been reborn in recent years. It's high street suffered the fate of many small town high streets and with Manchester city centre a tram ride away and the Trafford Centre even closer, shops moved out. Since the mid 2010s its market hall has turned into an indie gastro food hall and the surrounding area now teems with bars and restaurants, nick knack shops and a vintage market. None of this saved The Wheatsheaf, a mile out of town on a bend towards Broadheath (an area with several pubs within walking distance). The Wheatsheaf had the added attraction of pygmy goats in its beer garden- no idea what happened to them. For all I know they could be still there- they could have chewed their way out by now and be living quite happily in the boarded up pub.

We used to do a pub quiz in a pub down the road, The Old Packet House, four of us every Monday for years. One Monday and found the Packet closed for redecoration. 'The Wheatsheaf has one', Pete said and we all trotted up the road. The pub was full of local teams, we were definitely outsiders from the moment we walked in. We bought our beers, paid our entrance fee and got our answer sheet. An hour and a bit later we'd won the quiz. This didn't go down especially well with the rest of the teams. As winners, we got to do the Play Your Cards Right round and won that too. This gave us the opportunity to rummage in a cloth bag, pick a key and see if it opened the box that held the cash, cash paid by everyone's entrance fees, the money building up each week if it wasn't won. I stepped forward to choose a key from the bag- there were only three keys in the bag. Embarrassingly the key I chose opened the box so we won the cash as well as the quiz. We slunk out without staying for a celebratory drink, everyone else glaring at us. 

The diametric opposite of pub quizzes and derelict pubs is the voice of Elizabeth Fraser and her five track mini- album that came out earlier this year. Written and recorded with her musical and romantic partner Damon Reece, the duo calling themselves Sun's Signature, the five songs are a fully realised song set, Liz's voice set in a rich setting of folk music and chamber music with timpani, strings, Moog, mellotron and tom toms. I'd missed this and was alerted to it by friend of the blog Spencer. This song, Golden Air, is a joy, like turning to your face the skies and having warm honey drizzled over it by the sun. 

Sun's Signature came out in July and has now been re-issued in an extended package with remixes from sympathetic souls. Gwenno, Welsh psych/ folk/ synth artist (who records songs in Cornish as well as Welsh) has remixed Golden Air, taking something already fairly close to transcendent and making it moreso. 

There is an orchestral remix of Apples by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, and others from John Grant, CUTS and Hinako Omori, all taking Elizabeth and Damon's songs elsewhere while retaining their original character. But of them all, I recommend this one, the LUMP remix of Bluedusk is an electronic/ cosmische working of the song, as if Liz Fraser were fronting Kraftwerk or Factory era OMD. You can buy or listen to Sun's Signature (Extended) here


Anonymous said...

Loving the derelict pubs. Not sure why they are so fascinating..swc

Rol said...

I'm surprised you got out of that pub with your life.

Michael Doherty said...

I missed this too. On it!

Swiss Adam said...

Rol- it was a bit tense.