Somebody asked today to see the back bar, which I dutifully showed them, before exploring the garden. The response was, whilst not unexpected, not what my exhausted soul needed. “It’s huge” they proclaimed and “so much space” even from their naive perspective this was clearly a big task and they enquired as to whether all of my family are engaged in the Plough. Oh no says I, this is all me every last beer mat and brick, its all me, every drink served, worry considered and decision made……
Before writing this I was sat on a chair in the back bar with my head in my hands trying desperately to plot a path through the mountain of tasks that are whirling through my mind, needless to say I failed. I am supposed to fail at that task because there is simply too much to do, so many tasks that no mere human could chart them let alone complete them. I know that people don’t see the magnitude of this task and it is right that they shouldn’t because that is what I manage as a living, but if you see me smile that is simply insanity there is no other explanation.
To sit in the back bar and stress is not uncommon, to be overwhelmed by the task at hand also happens. It is not that I have any doubt that we can rebuild this wonderful old lady or that she will be loved. The scale of the task and the state of the industry means that she may well be my folly but if she is the legacy that I leave the world then that is not a bad record. Did you know though that it takes me two large whiteboards just to try and keep up with the day to day stuff? and that is before the year planners, diaries, electronic reminders and notes by the bed!
Gradually people are coming to realise the determination that I am built of, many of you already knew this. I am coming up to half a year without a break and breezing through it because, and this is important, I love this pub. She is fundamentally an awesome pub, not a good pub or even a great pub the Plough is the stuff of legends and by god she is recorded in many. That is the thing though with the old lady, she is a responsibility and a heavy one.
I love the pub dearly, I love that my home is invaded by a myriad of strangers and friends on a daily basis and a fair number of them have stories about her. I also love, somewhat strangely, that despite owning the pub I am acutely aware that I am nothing but a custodian.
To those that look upon me and think how lucky I am , yes some still do, take a day in my office or better still a day in my head. 24 hrs a day I worry about the Plough, she is the toughest Mrs a man can have (I speak from experience) and never leaves me alone. I go to sleep worrying and wake up to carry on the same worry, I have always said that Andrew and Helen have done an amazing thing with the Albion but I now look back and realise just how many there are in the Raymond crew and they still had an uphill fight.
This is my way of doing things and there is, and has always been, only that way. I am proud of what we have achieved so far and enjoying building on that but at 2 am I often ponder the couples, families and tribes who have run the Plough over the last 200+ years . I guess that in part this is a seasonal thing but when I think of the flat being full and the staff rotas it reminds me that there is just one of me and, if you happened past, you would see my shoulders sag just a little lower as the weight comes to bear don’t be too worried though its a comfortable load.