There are still just a few days to go before the sad event, but I'm going to take the opportunity of a few minutes in front of the complex adding machine that I now use to blether into the great unknown, to mark the passing of Russell and Mark from their accustomed places at the helm of the Devon and Cornwall.
It's been an open secret for a long time now that everyone's favourite landlord, Russell (above in his award winning Unflattering Photo of the Day pose), has been trying to sell the lease of the D&C so he could move on after being horribly treated by the appalling people at Punch Taverns and their ridiculous and damaging business model. This is the story of what happened to Russell (and Jenny of the Mark of Friendship), as told to and by the Guardian in Millbrook a few months ago.
Russell has found a buyer for the lease and a new couple take over the D&C from the 2nd of November. I'm told they have been given a far better deal by Punch than Russell was able to negotiate as the existing leaseholder. He leaves, I'm told, with his life savings shredded thanks to the greed and intransigence of the mighty god Capitalism and despite his own massively hard-working efforts.
The Devon and Cornwall was transformed over Russell and Mark's tenure, it's become one of the most welcoming and warm-atmosphered hostelries it's ever been my pleasure to frequent. And I've frequented many. The curry nights have become local legend, getting a table especially in the summer months was a hard job; the quiz nights packed 'em in like there was no tomorrow; even the quiet early week nights attracted a small gang of loyal regulars. This was not a "failing business", it was killed by an avaricious and inflexible brand of proto-capitalism - "leveraged" (indebted) to the hilt and unwilling to give the people at the sharp end an even chance of success. In a just world, Russell would be very comfortably off, quietly supervising the successful business he built in Millbrook.
I'll cover more of this story, in a lighter and more celebratory timbre, as Mrs The Millbrooker and I join Grandma Dong the Legend and Shazzerooneypoos for a Last Supper at the D&C tonight and also for the grand finale - Russell's last curry night on Tuesday.
I'll doubtless repeat myself, but it only feels right to sign off this post in the knowledge that you'll all join me in wishing Russell and Mark the very best and in saying thank you for all the great times over the last years.
Cheers to the wee Welsh Wizard with his fabulous cooking and beautifully kept ales.