Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Tribute to Chas Saunders

Crawley-based Chas Saunders (pictured left) made such an impression on me by his geniality and enormous enthusiasm (a feeling, I suspect, shared by all who met him), I am incredulous, thinking back, that we met on only a few occasions and the first of those was as recent as 23 January 2010. That was the date of my pub heritage tour of Brighton. Chas introduced himself to me as we sat at the bar of the Quadrant, and in a generous gesture I later discovered to be typical, pulled out from his raincoat pocket a present for me – a sheaf of papers on which he’d photocopied pictures of all of the pubs on my tour, annotated with notes on their histories. We then avidly discussed pub history for the duration of our stay. Chas was, after all, a self-styled Pubologist and it was through his Pubology website  - - that I had first heard of him.

From that point we entered into a correspondence, almost always on the topic of beer and pubs, except for the occasional digression into Gods. Chas’s letters were works of art in themselves, as shown by the composite image below. Photocopied onto them was Chas’s Pubology business card as a header followed by pictures of pubs and assorted illustrations arrayed around the fine calligraphy. These letters were full of optimism, enthusiasm and humour – “Amidst much pubbing, beer festivals etc. I have been to Battle of Hastings re-creation. The Bloody Normans won again! Wonderful show but NO beer tent. English Heritage Indeed!” To receive an envelope addressed with that unmistakable slanted but precise penmanship always filled me with enormous anticipatory pleasure at such delights contained within.

Even when Chas’s letters began to remark on his illness, they lost little of their optimism – “Beer is part of my medication!” he wrote to me in February this year. It therefore came as a shock when I received the news that Chas had passed away peacefully at home on 9 June, aged 77, surrounded by his many projects. Charles Edward Saunders, cartoonist, author, jazz drummer, inventor of board games, real ale lover and, of course, Pubologist, while it saddens me to think that I will never again receive another of your letters, I will always derive great pleasure from re-reading those that I have.

Our thoughts at this time go to his family and friends.

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