Friday, April 05, 2019

Loss of the Local

Right now, I feel like I'm mourning the death of an old friend.  My local pub - where I've been a regular for the better part of twenty six years - has shut.  The landlord went out of business last Sunday and the pubco who hold the lease took it back.  They haven't reopened it and nobody seems to know what they are planning to do.  It's surprising the hole it has left in my life.  Sure, I know that there are other pubs and, in truth, in recent years I haven't been going there as much as I once did as other activities have made claims upon my time, but its loss has proven surprisingly traumatic.  For one thing, despite falling attendances over the past year or so, the pub was still something of a local social hub - not being able to go there has made me realise how many people I know only through their being fellow drinkers there.  I have no idea how to contact them outside of that context.  The pub also provided a certain sense of identity when you'd been a regular as long as I had, not to mention that welcome sense of familiarity as soon as you walked in there: it was a secure place where you could enjoy a quiet drink and a conversation or, increasingly so for me, a quiet haven to unwind and read a newspaper with a pint after work a couple of times a week.

It's the uncertainty over its future which makes things really difficult - nobody knows whether it is worthwhile finding an alternative and settling in there.  Some years ago, we had an horrendous landlord at the local who drove out the locals and basically destroyed the pub's reputation and business, (in truth, it never really recovered, despite the best efforts of subsequent landlords), and most of us migrated elsewhere to await his inevitable downfall.  I remember how long it took to find another pub where I felt comfortable and had decent beer  - I really don't want to go back to that nomadic existence.  Moreover, having got settled somewhere else, the aforementioned landlord from Hell abruptly went out of business and within a couple of weeks a new landlord was installed, precipitating my return to the old pub.  (Before anyone asks, the pub I temporarily defected to has since changed hands several times and isn't as good as it was then - it is also quite inconveniently placed, so I'm unlikely to go back there).  The lack of information from the pubco has left everyone hanging and the loss of our social focal point means that most ex-regulars will be unaware if attempts are being made to try and protect the pub or even to organise some kind of community buy-out (such things have been mooted in the past).  It's current state just emphasises how powerless we are as customers when things like this happen.  As it is, I now cut a tragic and poignant figure, going down to the pub every day after work to see if it has reopened, only to be faced by the locked gates, day after day.



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