Working in the same pub my dad had stayed at years before, I found a greater appreciation of the role pubs play in our communities—and the harm that will be done by their closingby Alexandra Haddow / February 13, 2020 / Leave a comment
For the first time in my freelance life I sobered up on New Year’s Day to find myself with very little work in the diary. I messaged a friend who runs a pub in a leafy (loaded) area of London and asked if he needed a barmaid for the next few weeks. My luck was in, and I ended up working there almost every day in January, mostly in the afternoons.
This pub is the type that you’d take American friends to if they were in town. It’s the size of two big living rooms, and furnished with a horseshoe bar, wood-panelled walls, two roaring fires, and flowers. Crucially, it serves drinks that won’t cost you the best part of a tenner. It has locals who know each other from the pub and gather there spontaneously. There’s Dave, an 84-year-old who brings the bar staff his old cameras to satisfy our fleeting notions of becoming photographers. The hairdresser across the road comes in for a lunchtime pint. The guy who has a double vodka soda every day at one in the afternoon and then comes back at 5pm for three more. A troubled young man who had a great stroke of luck: his sister married a millionaire and bought him a neighbouring flat that costs more than twenty times my average salary. The mysterious bloke who has a half an ale and stares into the distance for three hours; the two older women who come in every day at 5pm, have a gin, a wine, and two bags of crisps, and then go home to their families. These are my regulars.
People are creatures of habit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a pub. The pub is there for them when they need it, and will always be there at the end (or the middle) of a long day, just as it is there for me when I don’t have any other money coming in. Pubs patch up the class divide. We debate the issues of the day, from whether one should say the “B” word (don’t) to Trump; the NHS, and what someone should do after they’ve been sacked. We helped…