Saturday, June 6, 2015

Reflections on the Pub

The other night I went to our local with a friend and as usual came across several people I know inside, making it a bit of a cheerful gauntlet to run as you chat to everyone before you get to sit down with your drink. The pub in our village is somewhat of a community centre; people gather for meals, for drinks, even for school meetings. The Village School Association has long held its meetings for parents and teachers in the pub, most people with a pint in hand. Very civilised, I say.

I don't go to the pub very often; at most every three months or so. The last time I went I was waiting outside for my friend when a dear lady walked by with her dogs and, eyes twinkling, said "The vicar's wife standing outside the pub! That's one for the books!"

Another time I managed to go to the pub without seeing anyone I knew inside; my friend and I had a nice chat and the next morning, on the school run, a different friend came toward me, finger wagging. "You were seen in the pub last night!" I stared at her, flummoxed. "Who saw me?" I demanded. It turned out I'd missed the person who knew me sitting in the corner. News travels amazingly fast in a village like ours. I've barely thought something myself before someone else seems to know.

In my novel Rainy Day Sisters, set in the fictional village of Hartley-by-the-Sea, I've named the pub The Hangman's Noose and it is modelled on the pub in our village, but with a more atmospheric name! I did an Internet search of some of the most interesting pubs in England and here is a selection:

The Signal Box in Cleethorpes, which is in an actual signal box, and at 8' by 8' is the smallest pub in England:

Then there's The Crooked House in Dudley, which is indeed quite crooked:

Some other pubs with interesting names are: Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, The Blind Beggar, Dirty Dick's, Bag O'Nails, The Bird and Baby (also known as The Eagle and Child, in Oxford), The Dirty Habit and, here's an oxymoron, The Jolly Taxpayer.

In the village where we're moving to, our local will be called The Shaven Crown, which is a reference to a monk's tonsure from days of old. It looks quite spacious and comfy (we've been there for lunch) with vaulted ceilings and open fires. But I'll miss the cozy, crazy warmth of our current local, and the fact that when I go in everyone (almost) knows my name.

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