Saturday, 2 January 2016

Pandemonium at the Pub

As I neared the end of my walk to the pub yesterday I was on my last quarter mile when an approaching car going downhill away from the pub stopped. It was some of our regulars who had just bailed. "It's rammed in there - you'll have trouble getting in the door." I laughed, exchanged New Year's greetings and trudged on.  Boy was he right. I literally fought my way in through a throng of strangers, push chairs and children. Crikey! Dotted round the edges of the bar were a few regulars, but otherwise I didn't know a soul.  I elbowed my way to the bar and got served.  Not much waiting for us bread and butter types and that's how it should be on days such as this.

Our pub is unusual in many ways. Firstly it is fairly remote, set amidst four farms in the middle of a country park and a mile from either Royton or Middleton, up unmade farm lanes which are used mainly for the milk wagon, farmers getting to and from fields by tractor,  livestock and by walkers.  The pub itself is small, old and has just two rooms. The landlord can only make it pay by working the shifts himself entirely. It is really a "hobby pub" where the way of life is part of the deal.  Now of course walkers are part of the passing trade and are very welcome, but this was of a different magnitude. If only some of these once a year drinkers would come a little more often, life would be better for all. We need some more regulars.

I squeezed in at the bar as the pub got busier. I'd only been there a few minutes and watched as orders for soft drinks, teas and coffees, slowed down the serious business of getting a pint or two of beer.  One lady asked the landlord if he remembered her from last New Year's Day.  He replied that he didn't as he whizzed up and up and down. She ordered two coffees. Regulars helped by clearing tables and fetching empty glasses back to the bar as the crowd was three or four deep.  More locals arrived and found a corner here or there.  At ten to three the bell was rung in earnest for the first time I can recall in years.  All waiting were served,  the bell was rung again and that was that. The strangers supped up and left. Not us regulars though, nor those who fancied more than one. The bar opened again shortly after three fifteen for a couple of hours and we carried on supping in a much more civilised manner.  Anyone who passed was admitted, locals or not. The doors weren't closed, but the pub was much more convivial and the landlord got a much needed breather.  He'd worked hard and deserved one.   

The Lees Bitter and Plum Pudding were excellent and when the pub closed, we bailed to the Ship for half an hour while waiting for a taxi.

It was strangely reminiscent of the old days when pubs stopped serving at three all the time.  I quite liked it, but then again I knew I'd be getting another drink. I did too then in my Liverpool local come to think of it. What goes round, come round and being a regular has some advantages!


RedNev said...

It's good when a pub is more than just somewhere you go to, but is somewhere you feel you belong, and the way they treat you reinforces that view. After all, it's the regulars who keep pubs available for the rare visits of the seasonal drinkers.

Paul Bailey said...

I appreciate these occasional visitors are a nuisance in pubs, especially at busy times. From what you hint at, they were a party of walkers, old school by the sound of it, but not as bad as some I have encountered - eating their sandwiches whilst sitting in the pub garden and not even bothering to buy a drink.

As a keen walker, I distance myself from such “ramblers”, and if it had been me and some of my walking mates visiting your pub, we would have behaved in a totally different way – no push chairs, kids or people ordering coffees amongst our group!

Happy New Year, by the way!

Anonymous said...

In Twickenham on New Years Day the two pubs I visited were virtually creches (almost exclusively under 5s). Well behaved children are fine by me, but access to the bar was a real problem and it wasn't fun, even with OK beer for that London.

I experienced pretty much the same in Chorlton (the Font) last New Year; I think newer parents treat Jan 1 as a safe day to visit the pub.

Good to hear beer quality good at the THT, shame it's (oddly) not in the Beer Guide.