I know that it may seem that there has been an avalanche of posts recently but hey welcome to the winter. Tonight I had a conversation regarding the removal of the middle wall, a job that is committed for October (2 weeks away) and my friend ended the conversation with the famous, and incredulous, words “how much?”
I don’t want anybody to think that I am sleeping well at the moment. The sheer enormity of the task, the disruption and the cost is far from understood and, to be fair, that terrifies me. It is a task that is needed, it is way earlier in the schedule than anticipated and, following a poor summer, way earlier than I am comfortable with but it is the right thing to do. If there is one legacy that I want to leave the Plough with then it is doing right by her.
So we will complete this task, it may be by hook or by crook but it will be done. The pub will look better for it and all agree, I am not sure that I will look better for it but that remains to be seen. For those who know me they will know that this level of risk is way outside of my comfort zone, I am not the man who bets his shirt on a horse (well I wasn’t). So there are two people whose odd philosophies guide me now and neither have their well deserved fame.
Both have been mentioned before in posts but, since I am awake and stressing, I will give them a more formal recognition now:
- Anna Marie Damgaard Kristensesen (AMD) – A business turnaround executive who gave me the most wonderful, and at the time overlooked, insight into the need to spend your way out of failure. Every time that I pay a works invoice I remember her philosophy and think that she is probably making somebody else sign another invoice!
- Andrew Raymond – In the face of adversity this man can find a shilling and throw it at the problem, admittedly the problem probably needs a pound but he will throw that shilling bloody hard anyway. Every time that I stock my cellar at least one keg has his words ringing in my head “if you haven’t got it you can’t sell it”. Most importantly Andrew introduced me to the snowball effect where you keep throwing money at a problem and eventually it will be ok, or the snowball will get bigger and end us all. Luckily neither myself or Andrew know the end answer so we just keep throwing.
I can’t finish the post without thanking Dave Rose for being the mucker that kept me up for another half hour to write this bloody post! I love the Plough and if “it will all come right in the end” isn’t a business plan then clearly it should be.
Time is really rushing by now, the pub opens at the end of next week and there is still so much to do. I had an overnight visit from Dave and his lad last night the extra labour was a real help but just having friends around and taking some time (only a little) to relax helps even more. It is odd when people visit me now as I am fiercely protective of both my little island and my little pub and desperately want people to love them both. You will notice that a stroll along the cliff is obligatory for all visitors and like a proud new father I will be a pace behind you waiting for you to be stunned. I don’t expect the pub to stun you, any sign of me being stunned is simply because I am punch drunk, but I do want you to like it. The pub is not just a home and business it is very much my baby and when you scatter those few favourable words about you can be certain that I snatch every single one and file it.
After some work yesterday I took a break to walk down the cliff with the lads and then back up to the Crab for dinner, since I never eat out alone this is a rare treat. When Dave tired they went back to the hotel and I returned to work, its pub time that is just how it is. Walking around the bay and down into the old village I was reminded once again what a truly stunning place this is and how lucky I am to be able to live here despite the distance it puts between me and friends. So how is it all going? Well the roofers are mob handed and on target to get the scaffold down by opening, they will go on to do the roofs at the rear during trading. The stonemason thinks he will just make it but had disappeared today to have a baby, well observe the process at least! Baby arrival also put one of my beer installs at risk but I think that is now resolved. Beer survey is tomorrow but install is next Thursday, horribly close to opening but they assure me that it is no risk.
My water softener engineer arrives tomorrow from Reading, oddly water softener engineers don’t occur on the island and we have to import. The water softener service is an unexpected expense but I am assured that it is good for another 20 years and is a very expensive piece of kit so it is a sensible expense. The decoration that remains is to complete one room of the right hand bar (I always label them from behind the bar rather than the street) the front door, window reveals and the gents toilets. In truth there is lots more to do but that is to my eye and not yours. One of the benefits of visiting the Crab last night was to cast an eye over the decoration and recalibrate my aspirations. I still have mountains to do but am hopeful of getting the bar vacated for cleaning by the weekend just have to set a stop on what I am going to achieve before opening. Having the lads here meant the morning kerb crawl from Rich’s boys took all of 10 minutes and I got to wave goodbye to 12 yards of rubbish that has been cluttering the place up although I have to apologise for exposing the big brave men to island spiders and to Jo for having to console her ‘brave soldiers’ when they get home. The opening is definitely happening despite the incredulous looks that I receive when I say this (Thanks Ad for the “oh this month”).
How am I in the midst of all this? Well I am 1 stone down from the pub diet but its a stone that I didn’t need, I am exhausted and very conscious that I am missing lots of details. The cash and time burn is astonishing even for somebody who predicted massive problems and I have taken to never getting out of ‘scruffs’ since I live on a building site there seems little point. I think the best description came from one of the trades who was looking around the pub appreciatively. I asked him if he fancied a pub and without hesitation he answered “No, have you looked in a mirror? we reckon you are on fast forward, you are actually ageing in front of our eyes”. The most important thing though is that I love it, I love my pub, love the island and the people and love the fact that my passion for this place can drive me into 18 hour days continuously now for over three weeks.