When I finished trading yesterday I have to say that I was so happy to have closed the doors on the day. I still had a couple of hours of work left and it was eleven pm but the trading day was done.
That is the problem with a public facing industry, sometimes the public aren’t great. Well to be more specific sometimes the section of the public that you interact with aren’t great. There is an oft quoted phrase that goes along the lines of
‘everybody brings happiness to this house, some when they enter and some when they leave’
Most of my happiness followed departures yesterday, unfortunately many of those departures turned into returns. It was a day of attempted intimidation, of disrespect and silliness. There was nothing overly nefarious about the people involved but, as some of my regulars noted, they were simply enough to make me preoccupied. This is the problem with opening your home to the public, the term ‘public’ is very broad and, contrary to popular belief, does not always mean that you will enjoy the company that you get. There are people who have a massively different idea of a trip to the pub than your own and people who don’t have the same. ordinary, standards of socially acceptable behaviour.
One very positive thing that comes from this is my regulars who not only pick up on my discomfort but are as keen for these people to leave in order to reclaim ‘our pub’. It is not so long back that many of these people would have turned tail and left but the Plough is now far better established and we know who we are and what we are about. We now turn to each other with a look that says ‘I don’t think that this is the place for them’ whilst still being a genuinely friendly and welcoming pub.
I am starting to write this as we creep into Boxing day because I have just sat down in the office for the first time all day. I wanted to share with you what Christmas day was for me this year, hey we are in this together after all! So I started the day a little late because I was shattered the day before and arose around 09:30, I know its idle but hey we all need a break. After bottling up, sorting the cellar and readying the bar I swung the doors open to a steady lunch time trade which I ended at three with the last one out just before four. After cleaning and restocking I made a brew and luxuriated in that most amazing time in a pub, closed during normal trading. This happens rarely but its a time when people walking past look wistfully at the comfort of your home and you remember how it feels not to live in a pub.
I dragged myself upstairs to make a sandwich at 5 and before I’d eaten half of it I spotted some of my regulars heading my way, doors open by 5.20 and we started again. This afternoons trading was under the title of ‘friends and regulars’ and was a genuinely lovely afternoon. It was steady right through and people really seemed to appreciate the pub being open. For me these are the sessions that I love, everybody is friendly and the atmosphere is amazing. I had serious misgivings about trading late on Christmas day as I knew that I was the only pub open, but the old girl’s personality shone through and every one had a great time. I had to refuse a couple of people but nothing like the crowds I expected and I am so proud of the pub for pulling off a happy and fun Christmas day, but then I should have realised that this is not just a pub though this is the Plough.
It struck me earlier that this is one of the better Christmas days that I have had, clearly this is not my favourite time of year, I got nearly an hour off and other than that I was thanked by people for going to work! I then got to bottling up and started thinking how much I genuinely love being here and being the landlord of this lovely old pub. I write a lot about the stress and difficulty and all of that is true but I am also immensely proud of my pub and how well she is doing. As I walk around with odd bottles to restock shelves I am reminded that I did this when I was a nipper and I loved it then so this is not so much a business as an indication of my abject failure to mature. I discuss Engineering issues with great interest with colleagues and friends, I review legal arguments with an authority unheard of from this side of the bar but I love bottling up and cleaning the floor.
I guess that when I was a nipper the thing that I was jealous of in publicans was the, relative, simplicity of it all. Don’t misunderstand me this is a hard game and way harder than what I did previously* but its all here, there is no commute, no logistics as such, I wake up at work and go to sleep there to in fact work and life have finally shed their last weak boundaries and merged. For me this is great and today is a good example, its Christmas day and nobody can stop me going to work, better than that they expect me to go to work its obligatory!
*For the BT readers: this makes that job look like a paper round, seriously this is the only job with the real potential to beat me