For the first time in ages I have a burning desire to post, to record the thoughts that are in my mind right now because they are an important part of my story.
Last night I closed at midnight, it wasn’t particularly busy but it was a nice crowd and it seemed fair to allow them to stay. When I finally closed and locked the doors it was with a happy smile, it was one of those days where the pub was what I want the pub to be.
I was brought up in the Eighties and this trade was all about shaking, what was then, small change out of punters pockets and buying a new Jag, I trust that we all appreciate that those days are gone. My great friends Andrew and Helen helped me to see that the community pub works it’s just what we do because we are here for the community not the other way around. When people ask me would I rather be somewhere else or would I rather be as ‘busy as’ I always answer that I am happy here and hey I am not as young as I once was!
During the course yesterday I helped persuade an inebriated person that it was better to leave and return than stay until air-dried following a washroom accident. I discussed various local issues with people and talked about people’s days and how/where/if they had watched the round the island race. Occasionally I allowed the Juke box volume to creep up for a song or two, quietly comfortable that music was popular with all in the pub.
I petted some dogs, gave some tourist advice and humbly accepted praise on behalf of the pub. I introduced some less educated palates to my selection of premium spirits and explained the relationship between cost of production and cost to purchase; this drives me to less known brands which don’t have the budget for heavy promotion.
This is what the pub is about for me. Sure a pub full of youngsters and loud music can be a commercial success but it is not somewhere that I would like to drink. Don’t misunderstand me, as much as this is my house, I am not a fan of all of the music, all of the people or all of their ways but in general this is a place that makes me feel comfortable even if I were a stranger. You can keep the party pubs, the drunken lunacy and the hard work I’d rather have a chat in my house over a beer. It is only when you talk to people that you hear such lines as “I am going to a party with my dance class, its Disney themed ” and, because you know said class is pole dancing, spend the rest of the day confused.
Last Thursday I was privileged to have a glass of beer with many of the great and good of the railway industry. This was a further reminder of the unique world that is railway engineering, the great people in that world and the significance of the change. I won’t name everybody here but special thanks has to go to Martin Bright for an appearance in his new-found role as poster boy for retirement. Ignore those adverts for potions that take “years off you” Martin has somehow lost ten years in two weeks, well deserved and reassuring as I too take to the exit.
At home I am continuing the ‘pack one, throw one’ technique that I have always used when moving home. I have not yet left living out of a bag behind as I return to the apartment next weekend before final move on Monday so I have to ensure that whatever I leave here fits in the bag (or the bin). Negotiations for beer supply are still confounding both me and Andrew as we compare notes on the relative performances of our brewery reps. For some reason my paperwork is taking longer than it does up here in Essex but I am sure that is just a reflection on the slower pace of life further South……..
Plumber is now engaged for the Tuesday which is great news as it limits the time that I will be without hot water. This is a significant achievement for me since I have passed a job that I could do myself, at least in part, to a professional trade and also cut a neat, but fair, discount on the job. With the mantra of ‘Return On Investment’ ringing in my ears I have opted to replace the boiler rather than repair. As good as all this progress is it also reminds me that with the stonemason, roofer and plumber engaged the rest of the tasks reside on the list that has my name at the top and time is not my friend. Keep an eye on the blog and you can watch my progress I may even find a tracker to link progress with my slow decline into insanity!
I went for a meal at the old place on Friday and it was a good example of what not to do. She is without doubt a stunning little pub and continues to look great and trade well but the food offer is confused and misplaced. Coupling a very good bar menu with a weak restaurant offer in an environment which cannot offer a restaurant is indicative of somebody in the business pushing too hard for something that isn’t right. This type of prescriptive offer is exactly what I won’t do, and didn’t do when I was there, the pub knows what it wants to be and as landlords our job is to facilitate that. The old girl is doing well but its a shame to see some basics missed that would step her up a level; I know that it is of no impact to me but this is how we view pubs that is just how it is. Imagine going past the house that you used to own and finding that they had painted it pink and made it an eyesore* well we feel the same when we enter old pubs and see inverted 70cc bottles of spirits or cluttered fridges.
For those who are still seeking out the excitement in my posts I can assure you that you are still too early. There is no excitement just a creeping dread as I look at invoices and CapEx plans. Don’t be mislead this is very much what I want to do and I am convinced that I will make it work, but looking beyond the works is an effort in itself. I guess it is similar whichever side of the bar you are on, my days of looking for excitement are long gone and I now drink where I am comfortable and around friends. This is the pub that I want to create and the environment where I want to live, it isn’t excitement that I want it’s the comfort of wandering downstairs to work.
*Any similarities to ex marital homes that are still being paid for are entirely coincidental