Why not call it Ye Olde Poppycock

Monday 1 June 2015

Britain's oldest pub is in St Albans, tucked up Abbey Mill Lane.

It’s been serving ale since the eighth century and has had a lot of different names over time, the newest beingYe Olde Fighting Cocks because of the inn’s long association with cock-fighting.

I say “newest” but when you’re talking about a1,200-year history, these things are relative.

It was christened Ye Olde Fighting Cocks just the other dayin 1872. But it could be renamed again if animal rights groupPETA (People for the EthicalTreatment ofAnimals) gets its way.

PETA has written to the landlord urging a compassionate update to the pub sign – it should henceforth readYe Olde CleverCocks. Why? Step forward Mimi Bekhechi, PETA’s director.

“Changing the name would reflect today’s rejection of needless violence and celebrate chickens as the intelligent and social animals they are.”

It’s hard to know where to begin with people like Mimi. It really is. Here we are, the nightly news dominated by images of desperate refugees drowning in the Medwithin sight and sound of the TV cameras; reports of yet another advance by the murderous, psychotic forces of Isis; mass abductions of Nigerian school girls destined to be forced jihadi brides– and good old Mimi whips off a letter to the pub wittering on about “today’s rejection of needless violence” (uhh?) and the need to “celebrate” the IQ of chickens.

Setting apart the need to get one’s priorities in order, Mimi,a quiet word in your ear.

Pubs’ names are part of our cultural record. They can tell us things about our shared past,in particular our former relationship with animals.

It is ridiculous to be offended by them or to deny history. Would you censor pub names such as The Fox and Hounds, or the Ferret and Rabbit?

Perhaps The Dancing Bear could become The Returned To The WildBear, The Slaughtered Lamb TheOrganic Nut-Roast.

Meanwhile, if Ye Olde Fighting Cocks were to change names(don’t hold your breath, Mimi–regulars there think your letter is “bonkers”) – the “intelligent and social” chickens of Britain would be as indifferent as the fish in the sea and the stars in the sky.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.
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