Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The fifth element

To an Exmoor pub for the purpose of a review. The place is empty when we arrive about 12.30pm. There’s been heavy snow in the past few days and custom has been low. There’s a village but the houses are scattered (though enough folk support the pub for a darts team). We sit in the long bar, the landlord at the end folding napkins and the landlady behind the bar as we look at the menu. There’s no piped music, just our whispers as we debate what to have for lunch. It’s an old place high up on the moor, which must have seen some community action in the days when the snows came and people had no choice but to get to the pub. Through the window I can see three Landrovers draw up in the car park and a group of lads gather. The door opens, creaky, the birdsong of a latch returning to its catch, and in they come. Voices fill the place, we talk louder, the licensees become less withdrawn, after all they’re on the stage. The lads crowd around the bar, order their drinks — Guinness, coke, Carlsberg. Discuss the food, discuss the morning’s shooting and the place is transformed. The place feels warmer, friendlier. And the motto of this brief post? Sometimes it’s easy to forget in our search for the things that make the perfect pub — beers that baffle and buff up our lives, good grub that gets right to the heart of the matter, log fires whose flames curl and dance in the orange regions of the grate and pub gardens that resemble Eden in their spate of innocence — that people also make a pub: the fifth element.

7 comments:

  1. Lovely bit of writing Adrian - I can see we're all going to enjoy your research for this book.

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  2. I've always thought that no matter what a pub's construction is (brick or stone or even timber), no matter where it is (village, town, inner city or miles from anywhere) it's the people who define a pub.

    How many times have you revisited what was an excellent boozer to find that it's gone down the pan?

    Unfortunately it takes ages to build up a good reputation and one indifferent landlord to destroy it. I used to frequent an excellent pub locally until about 6 years ago when I had a bad experience with new landlords. The place may have changed hands several times since but I've never been back.

    As a post script I should be in Köln on the morning of December 30 and hope to meet up with Andy. Mind you he might not want to desert his Düsseldorf Alt for Köln's Kölsch!

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  3. 3. Hi! The first time I read the theories of this company about remembering drink recipes and mixology, I didn’t believe it. But when I bought the product and used it, I really couldn’t believe my own self that I could remember the whole recipes. This is great. Thanks. Bartending books

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  4. thanks Zak
    Hi Steve, has he just got back from Afghanistan? Give him my best.

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  5. Yes Adrian, he's back. Apparently his contract out there's finished. If we do get to meet up I'll pass on your wishes.

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  6. Although pubs and beer gardens don't make the long title in "The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community" author Ray Oldenburg defines them as essential "third places" (not work, not home) that nourish sociability.

    A great read - as is your post Adrian.

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  7. Hi Stan, thanks for that, will have to go on Amazon

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