I always find it interesting the number of people who think that I will struggle with my, eventual, full-time transfer into the licensed trade. It is interesting because it is a debate that I have had with myself and won, of course I have what makes them think that I haven’t? What it demonstrates is the importance that work plays in my life, it is my purpose and my reason for being, that is not how it is meant to be. When people question my ability to leave industry they are essentially saying that I am one of those people whose life is so inextricably linked to work that they retire and then drop dead.
Perhaps it is a reflection of the modern world but this is not a scenario that is as common now as it used to be. As an apprentice I remember innumerable occasions when a retirement presentation was followed within a few months by condolences. Taking these people away from the working world removed their purpose and without it they simply ceased to be. I am not sure that it was a bad thing, whilst a lot of them would grumble that they never got to enjoy their pension I don’t know that they would have anyway. They would have saved their pension, in turn it would have passed to a charity, and spent their remaining time mithering staff in an old people’s home. I don’t know if the level of devotion to work was different then or if it was different social landscape. I guess that, in part, industry was harder when I was an apprentice and for those that retired when I was young it was exponentially harder.
For me the licensed trade is a brilliant way of blurring the hard edge between work and social life. In so doing it allows me to soften the transition and make sure that I delay the staff mithering as long as possible. The thing with industry is that it has an uncanny ability to reach out to you. It was with great surprise that I read of a long-established family business on my beloved Isle, not a place know for its thriving industrial landscape if you exclude seaside rock manufacturing. This industrial unit in Nitton is responsible for producing all of London Underground’s signage and has been since the 90’s. A look around their website the other not conjured up the most delightful incongruities as staff proudly displayed huge variants of the iconic roundel. Looking closely at some of these staff you could see, from the absence of frown lines and worry, that they had never visited their product in situ.
Yet another of my historic searches confirmed my decision this week which is reassuring, if not positive for the industry. The Worsley Arms in Wroxhall was a delightful building, set at the foot of glorious sweeping hills, with a huge expanse of land. A tired pub that needed some work it was reasonably priced and had a tenant at will who was keen to offer alternatives, often a sign of good trade. Wroxall is neither coastal nor on a particularly busy route but I set that aside determined to produce a fair business case for this grand old building. Sadly, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t see the premises cutting it and walked away. I read with interest that the community had rallied against its proposed demolition, a prospect that I mooted on this blog at the time, and was keen to read the result. In a stroke of genius from the building’s owner he sidestepped the community asset complications by stalling plans and offering the community the opportunity to purchase below market value.
Little more than £10K was raised and the property is being demolished for housing. It is always sad to see any public house go, the memories that they hold are key to so much of our past. But in the column inches and comments attributed to this story it is somewhat reassuring to read a common thread that the village couldn’t support two pub and think ‘ I got it right there’.
For those following the other project I have maintained my target of 2.5K words a day and, at 30K, am on target for the 35K by the weekend which is the target that I have set to release the next chapters.