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By Hugh Bicheno

First quantity of a rip-roaring, two-part historical past of England’s longest and bloodiest civil struggle, narrated as a medieval ‘game of thrones’ by way of a grasp army historian.

England, 1454. A nation sliding into chaos. With the lack of Bordeaux (the final French territory held by way of the Plantagenets), the enfeebled Henry VI loses his brain. Disgruntled nobles again the regal claims of Richard, Duke of York, great-grandson of Edward III. city and geographical region teem with infantrymen, redundant and bored. The level is determined for civil war.
BATTLE ROYAL is the 1st a part of a two-volume background of the dynastic wars fought among the homes of Lancaster and York for the English throne from 1454 until eventually 1487. Hugh Bicheno tells the tale of the Wars of the Roses as a captivating saga of interwoven households, narrating every one bankruptcy from the viewpoint of a key participant within the wider drama.

Volume I lines the tale from 1450 to 1464, a interval punctuated by way of the battles of St Albans, Towton and Hexham; enlivened via such attention-grabbing characters as Henry VI’s queen Marguerite of Anjou and the femme fatale Elizabeth Woodville, and finishing with the triumph of the Yorkist king Edward IV.

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Small wonder that we at Bass, like others, had an army of “Outside Quality Control” personnel, whose job was to patrol the pubs, making sure that the cask beer was in tip-top condition but also that everything else in the outlet was the best it could possibly be: The glasses were clean; the sparklers16 were adjusted properly; all beers including those in keg and bottle were also served properly. I cannot entirely blame The Iron Lady for the demise of cask ale. Some of the guilt must be with technical gurus in some companies, and I will single out Guinness17 here.

1. 7 liters per head every year). 7 Perhaps related to this is a trend ever towards lower and lower gravity (as well as less malt and bitterness) in the beers, as I witnessed in November 2009 when again teaching in Wuxi. And it certainly seems to me that there needs to be a lesson in beer presentation, the notion of cold lager being one of providing the customer with a beer, a glass, and whatever quantity of ice they need to add to chill things down. One of the most famous Chinese brews of course is Tsingtao, named for a German port on the Chinese coast.

The beer business is a very different one post-Thatcher, and one tragic victim is cask-conditioned ale (see endnote 19 of Chapter 1). People often ask me what I miss from my homeland. High on the list is this style of beer. Whenever I find myself back in England and whichever city, town, or village I am in, I head straightway to a pub. And if I do not see beer handles,14 then I turn tail and go in search of them. When Thatcher severed the tied house link, the death knell was sounded for some great beers.

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