It is now well into Wednesday and that means I have the rest of today and tomorrow before I throw open the doors of my pretty little pub, well half of it at least, to the general public, their comments and their criticisms. For those who are in the ‘criticism’ list be aware I can shut off audio at will so don’t think that I am listening as you explain how to best run the pub before shooting off home to do whatever the hell it is that you do. I am inundated with unsolicited and pointless advice as soon as people realise that this grubby looking thug is the landlord. I have lost count of the people who have told me that food is the ‘only way that this pub will survive’ which is interesting since its last incarnation was food led and failed!
Other recent snippets of advice have included ‘its quiet in the Winter’, what really? in a seasonal town? on a seasonal island? well best I give the keys back then! Best comment though this week was the supplier who, when I said that I had the freehold, looked at me oddly and said “how did you get that” god help these people in the real world. Some of the subs on site realised this week that ducking around in scrubs gives me the opportunity to avoid some of this ‘advice’ at the moment until I become pinned behind the bar as of Friday. I do recall that while I was at the Ship I concluded that the only reason that pubs ever had below floor cellars was to provide the landlord with an escape hatch, certainly I have used it in pubs before! I am doing my best to rarely be rude though because one never knows who it is that is asking a question, as an example take the fella from Monday. After a couple of nosey laps two guys stopped and leaned on the railings to ask “what is it going to be?” I looked around and , once again, thought that answer was obvious before telling him that it would indeed be a pub again. They asked when I was opening and seemed upset that I open Friday and they go home on Thursday, I was just winding into “well if your week on the island ends on Thursday maybe I should bring everything forward” but thought better of it, his answer? “well looks like we need another visit, I will tell the rest of them”. Now I have no idea what the “rest of them” constitutes but at least I still have a chance to find out.
As you all know I have been burning the candle at both ends and in the middle rather successfully for the last month but I have now reached empty. I am now in a continually exhausted state from 6 am when I rise right through until 2 or 3 am when I retire. There are many definitions of exhausted so for clarity mine is that point when I can fall asleep in a queue in the store. The whole ‘nodding dog’ thing that you do when you are tired, yes that and the stumble when standing in a store at 10 am will always get you attention. The thing that continues to fuel me is both the sense of purpose and a passion to give this old lady a chance to find her way. This week I had a visit from a Derby Engineer, I think that I had all of 3 hours sleep that day and deliveries were turning up to be confronted by scaffold, needles to say a stressful day. When Paul asked if I had any regrets my immediate answer was an emphatic ‘no’, how could it be anything else. Sure it would have been nice to get a better survey and we all love a discount but I am the custodian of a 250-year-old pub cool or what? Of course the pearler is that I live on the most gorgeous island and there is nothing so bad that a glimpse of the bay doesn’t make it better.
How are we* getting on? given that we are opening on Friday? Well things are progressing and at a rate that belies how little energy I have. I am also supported by very good trades who are pulling out all the stops when needed. My roofers took a drowning last week to ensure that the scaffold can be removed on time and the stonemason is up to 14 hour days to get his bit as close to finished as possible. The scaffold is a special drama given that, due to work volumes, we have ended up with a lone wolf scaffolder who not only works on his own but refuses to work with anybody else! After much discussion we have settled on the assumption that he is punishing himself for some previous wrongdoing, why else would that trade work alone? On my two storey scaff it looks bad enough but imagine 5 or 6 storeys and getting half way up without being able to yell “chuck me a …”. I am assured that he will be clear by Friday and I will be able to get my new signs installed and hopefully end the debate about what is happening to the pub. I now have stock on site and the guys arrived today to start fitting the beer raising kit so that I can access said stock, she really is starting to look like a pub again.
Inside is passable, it is not what I want and I am conscious of significantly more works being required but it is passable and tradeable so ready to go. I still have acres to do and will doubtless miss all sorts as I take it right to the wire but hey if it was easy everybody would do it. A lot of people have said lovely things about the pub and equally lovely things about me and how my pub will be but I remain convinced that the Plough is its own beast I am simply the person who is allowing her to do what she needs to do. The Plough is no more Gav’s pub than the Ship was, the place has been here for 250 years and I will never match that all I can hope to do is preserve the building and its history and add some more good memories to a fabric that is already soaked in them. I must be doing something right because, after fighting back, the building is now tolerating the works and the paranormal side has had little to say in objection. In fairness the paranormal side may just be tiredness, short of a ghostbusters style phantom smacking me in the face with a shovel nothing would wake me up so I have visions of dozens of ethereal spirits spending an hour or so trying to spook me before getting dispirited (see what I did there) and leaving.
*remember we makes me sound better but means I, there is nobody else here