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.
When you have children you open a door to your heart that cannot ever be closed. I’ve seen some really cool methods of handling parental splits this season, looks like it can actually be achieved. Mine was not a split that breeds compromise, in truth the same can be said of the marriage. I miss my children terribly and am devastated that my influence on their lives is measured solely in commercial terms.
I realised today how odd it sounds to talk of an annual hours visit with my daughter. That’s the problem when unbalanced parenting, it allows the wrong to overcome the right. I’ve always maintained that I will never engage my children in adult emotions, they are children for a reason. My children know that I love them and that I miss them but I’ve never told them how much it hurts not to see them or be involved in their lives. For me that is Dad’s role, we are the rocks the stable ones that are always there, it’s just the job.
To my children our relationship is normal, the occasional call or message and the potential of an annual visit. They don’t see anything strange in this, it is what they know and it is not for me to burden their lives with adult complications. The conversation today and the sight of better managed situations made me think that I was wrong. I considered that somewhere in my determination not to burden my children with adult emotions I had let them down. I have allowed my children to adopt a normality that is created by one party, however you look at it this is unbalanced.
But then my daughter arrived, tall and gorgeous, she has grown since last year. The innocence with which she greats me is as if she has simply walked from her bedroom and this is not an annual visit. An hour of humour and love carefully spent with dimmed lights, after all dads don’t cry, makes it all seem right. Whatever I have or haven’t done for my children that innocence tells me that I’ve not shared my pain. That door to a parent’s heart can never be closed no matter how hard some try, the path to a parent’s heart is shorter for their children than it is for a surgeon.
Perhaps my children will read the blog at some point, but by then they will be old enough for the stories not to change their view of the world. I would like to think that they can at least learn that even dads have emotions, not a bad lesson eh?
I know I am revisiting a subject here but I really think it deserves it. As I look from my window both sides of the street are lined with cars that appear abandoned rather than parked. Between these stationary vehicles runs a slow moving snake of cars leaving town. You rarely see traffic moving as slowly as a bank holiday by the coast. These cars slowly making their way out of town are the same ones that sat in solid traffic to get here in the first place. All morning the high street was solid, the 5 minute journey into town was taking 25.
The sight of this mass of humanity in tin cans was partnered by the traditional scent of sunblock. Yes this is a chip eater bank holiday, sweating in a car and shouting at the kids. Fighting into town they find no parking so either abandon cars or join the endless circle hunting for a space. When they leave the car eventually they race to the shops, you thought I was going to say the beach, oh no. Having made it to the coast they need to shop and fill the town window shopping the few tiny shops that we have. The grocery store is rammed, heaving with tourists that are only here for a day! It’s Tesco guys, ours is the same as yours.
The takeaways, ice cream stores and cafes all have queues out of the door. Eventually they will make the beach, more for somewhere to eat their food, before the hellish journey home. What is it that drives this mass migration? Is it some pheromone deal like marching ants? I remember when the only place that you would be able to get hot doughnuts and cotton candy was at the coast. That’s not the case now, so why do we still feel the need to chase each other to the beach, are we trying to recreate childhood memories?
I spoke to Dave earlier and he confirmed that the zoo and his local superstore car parks were also groaning under the weight of visitors. With Internet shopping is there any need for this? What genetic code orders us to spend our bank holidays queuing or sat in traffic?
While I consider that answer I am going to walk to the pub and engage in a time honoured tradition. Sunny bank holidays seem so much nicer when your sitting on the wall with a pint watching the exodus, hey thanks for coming.