Friday, 4 July 2008

The Pub at Night

There is something about experiencing a pub late at night from the other side of the bar, which is quite different. I have been working the evening in the pub for a few nights this week while the landlady recovers from illness and have enjoyed the experience. It has been frustrating and rewarding in equal parts. It's a long shift, from half past four when I get there to fettle all the beers and switch everything on, to midnight, when I do it in reverse. Early the pub is quiet, being a mile up an unmade road, which is the frustration bit, but as time goes on it gets busy for meals, quiet again and then the older generation of locals land. That's when the pub takes on its true character as a place people go to socialise and feel at home. They are using the pub in the old fashioned way, to meet friends and have a quiet drink.

There are a bunch of a certain age that drift in from around half past nine and stay until midnight. They all know each other, but each little group or couple sit in their appointed places with just a nod to each other. Their drinks rounds are the same every evening, there is a quiet murmur of conversation.The dogs with them loll contentedly, the pub cat sleeps on a bar stool, pausing now and then to check the dogs for latent hostility. I pass quiet banter with two of the regulars at the bar. The clock ticks on inexorably. It is a timeless tableau which is almost serene in its simplicity and comfort.

Between half past eleven and midnight, internal clocks kick in. People get up, drift back to the bar with empties in hand, bid goodnight and slide off into the dark outside. By midnight the last have gone and the cat and I are left alone in the pub. I ensure she has food and water, put the glasswasher on for the last time, put the sparklers and taps in to soak overnight, blow out many candles, check the toilets are empty and the back door is locked and switch off lamps one by one until I am left in darkness, alleviated only by the dull green glow of the emergency lights. Then I too, locking the front door behind me, leave this cosy world and step outside. I smell the fresh country air with its farmland overtones and now, suddenly tired, get in my car and head for home.

20 comments:

Bailey said...

Beautiful.

a swift one... said...

We are still talking about Oldham aren't we??!!

Tandleman said...

Rochdale technically, but 100 yards from the Oldham boundary!

Rednev said...

In my experience this - more or less - is how most pubgoers drink, in contrast to the myth of pub-inspired binge drinking and mayhem.

Tandleman, I just wish that your eloquent blog entry could be shown to the puritans in the government who want to price pubs out of existence (using the pretext of public disorder), even though many pubs tend to be something like yours; probably not quite so idyllic, but along the same lines.

Stonch said...

A lovely blog entry, but I'd sound a word of caution: not all pubs are like that which the writer describes, nor should they be. Those that aren't deserve our love and respect too, even if they don't suit the "older generation" quite as much!

I'm not suggesting there's any implication here to the contrary - I don't believe there is. Just making an observation . . .

Stonch said...

...the puritans in the government who want to price pubs out of existence...

Straw man alert!

Jeff Frane said...

Nice one. Lovely image and I'm so grateful that I've actually been in that pub (even met the dogs!). We should all be so lucky as to have a pub like that for a local; too bad it's 5000 miles away.

Rednev said...

"Straw man alert!" Sarcastic comments and glib generalisations do not contitute debate, but they are useful when you've got nothing constructive to say. Bit like stereotypes really.

The new puritanism against alcohol, using methods transferred over from the anti-smoking campaign, was the subject of a workshop that I attended at CAMRA national AGM in April this year, and the findings were endorsed by a conference vote, so it's not just me, but the national body that your "alert" applies to. Perhaps you should reconsider your "generally positive views of the national organisation" of CAMRA after all.

The Southport Drinker said...

Stonch has an old peculier, middle class, everything is rosy in the garden way of looking at things, so I wouldn't be too worried, RedNev. Perhaps you can compose a song in his honour.

Meanwhile,

beautiful entry Tandleman. You're a poet at heart I see now.

Stonch said...

Rednev, debate is impossible if you insist on basing all discussion on utter falsehoods - such as this goggle-eyed conspiracy theory about "puritans". So I'll just take the piss out of you, thanks.

I see from Southport Drinker that the class war rages on! But let's not scrap... I don't know if old peculier was a deliberate play on words - but if so hats off to you sir!

Rednev said...

Cage rattled again, I see.

Taking the piss is all you ever do, Stonch, so you may as well stick to what you're best at. I'm surprised you spelt 'discussion' correctly, since discussion is not something I've ever seen you do on this blog, as some one else has also commented on about you on another thread. You clearly don't agree with me ~ fine. I'm used to being active in a number of organisations that I really can handle disagreement. Unlike someone who attended one CAMRA meeting and was traumatised. Had you been as forthright in person at that meeting as you are behind the safety of cyberspace, you would have made mincemeat of that CAMRA meeting, and not run away. Did you run home to Mummy's skirts?

linda said...

rednev

Harsh but fair as they say. I think you've seen through the smoke and mirrors that is Stonch.I simply can't understand what he has against you stating self evident truths. Unless,of course, he's simply drumming up more PR for himself.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Oh dear, lovely post, shame its sparked a fight.

John said...

Excellent post, it reminds me of the song nothing ever happens by Del Amitri.

All together now gentlemen time please you know we can't serve any more

Stonch said...

Rednev - grind your axe and show off the chip on your shoulder as much as you like! It really doesn't matter. You want to discount my personal experience because it doesn't tally with your view. That's fine.

Tandleman said...

Fights are part of blogging, but I must say this one is unusual. Let's draw a line under it.

Ron Pattinson said...

Great post. Makes me want to rush down there right now.

Slightly weird discussion, though.

Rednev said...

Stonch: you obviously haven't actually read a word I have written; well, perhaps one ~ the word 'puritan'. If you look back, you will see I have already said I don't deny your personal experience, whatever it was, although as it was a CAMRA meeting, of which I have attended many, I can't understand what traumatised you so much. What I DID say was that attending just one branch CAMRA meeting in London does not mean you are in any way qualified to comment on the entire grass roots of CAMRA across the whole UK, which is what you did do.

I don't have any chips on my shoulder; I just object to sweeping generalisations made on the basis of a single meeting with perhaps 10-20 people present, or around 0.02% of the CAMRA grass roots membership. To dismiss - as you did - the other 99.98% on the basis of one meeting that scared you enough to say "never again" is, frankly, stupid.

And Linda ~ thanks.

Stonch said...

Rednev, you put me in a difficult position. I'd like to let you have the last word, but I can't allow such a gross misrepresentation of what I wrote stand.

I was indeed only speaking about one meeting, and when I talk about "branch level", clearly I meant here in London - where I live, the branch that's relevant to me. I've got no idea what your CAMRA branch is like. I don't even know where you live!

Come along now, don't make things so personal: I expressed a view, you didn't agree, you don't need to hold a grudge.

Simon Everitt said...

Lovely post, you're a poet, I never really put myself in the shoes of the people on the other side of the bar so quite instructive. Hope the pub n cat and locals are still going strong 8 years on.