In my restaurant column in Weekend today, dealing with The Perch in Binsey, I mention a landlord of the past, one George Chitty, a former opera singer at Sadlers Wells. In the early 1970s, he was as almost as famous for rudeness to his customers as Squire ‘Kim’ Joseph Hollick De La Taste Tickell was, simultaneously, to some of the Cambridge undergraduates brave enough to visit his Tickell Arms in Whittlesford. In checking the details of Mr Chitty’s career in our library files at Newspaper House, I came across a clipping that also concerned another celebrated pub character in the city. The years rolled back to September 1976 when, as a 25-year-old comparative newcomer to Oxford, I first read — through tears of laughter — my illustrious colleague John Owen on the subject of ‘Jig’ Holloway, the former landlord of The Chequers in High Street.

John, it must be said, had been making no attempt at comic prose; it was just that his words were certain to mean something rather different to many of his readers than they meant to him. Of ‘Jig’ he asked: “Who of those who knew (and loved) him can ever forget that magnificent character, who bred champion Dachshunds among his other accomplishments?

“It was the boast of Jig and his wife Flo that no one who was in real need ever went down the passage into the yard behind the old house and came away unsatisfied.”