Thursday 20 September 2012

Racing post

Racing pub I think as soon as I enter, let’s study the Racing Times, keep an eye on the telly, Great Yarmouth, where’s that, by the sea I seem to remember; remember remember the ghost of the smoke that once drifted through the impure air, but let’s turn to the roast joint, a more amenable aroma, sitting as it does in a glass cabinet, in which it keeps warm. This pub is full of noises: the scuff of shoes on the well sanded floor, a local reading the DT and clearing his throat with a great rebel yell of impending emphysema, while others at the bar exchange confidences in the manner of a serenading Louis Armstrong. I see a picket fence of fonts for the likes of Murphy’s, Sagres, Stella, Heineken while Greene King IPA and Brakspears Bitter do the cask swing. I also see a big hunk of cheese (Cheddar yellow, a bouncy kind of cheese perhaps), tomatoes, roast spuds on a plate with roast meat. I also see: racing prints, fine art in the manner of, on the wall. I taste the Brakspears; it’s fresh and has that feral, rustic, hedgerow deep Churchillian growl of bitterness that I always associate with British hops. Meanwhile, matey by the door eats his roast and spuds and already drives his memory into the future by reminiscing about his forthcoming trip to Madeira (club sandwich and chips and a few glasses of wine and me and the missus are sorted) that kicks off tomorrow (and I’ll be in a week on Friday to tell you all about it). This is not the sort of pub in which I want to spend the rest of my life but I like its raffish, Irish, old fashioned, dig-in-the-ribs, mind-the-locals, Paddington-is-a-funny-old-place, I’m-a-security-guard-but-I-live-in-a-mews kind of character that I seem to remember in 1980s London, a time when old pubs became cocktail bars but somehow ones like this one seem to survive. Racing pubs I thought when I first entered, how wrong was I.

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