Out for a run this morning and was surprised to see that one of my local pubs had had all its windows boarded up. I don't go to the pub very often, but this is one that I'd occasionally pop into and it had always seemed fairly popular. It'd be open the last time I'd gone past and this closure seemed to have taken even the pub by surprise. There was no sign explaining what had happened or clarifying whether the business had gone bust or was just shut for refurbishment. The chalk boards outside still heralded Wednesday night Quizzes or offers on food and booze. It was as if the pub had been locked up overnight and then someone had come and covered the windows with chipboard and padlocked the front door. Perhaps the landlord and clientèle were trapped inside, unaware of what had happened, wondering why it was still the night. That's one Hell of a lock-in.
Sadly it's most likely that we've lost another pub and it's one of the nice ones too. The recession has no doubt contributed, but maybe people have found other ways to have fun that don't involve sitting round a table drinking (it sounds insane but it might be true). Or maybe they just sit at home drinking around their own table having bought booze from the supermarket.
I can't really complain as I've been doing little to support the trade. As a younger man the pub was the default place for a night out. In Cheddar there was nothing else to do, but even once I went to University or came to live in London I would just meet friends in the pub, chat, play the quiz machine and drink too much beer. Is it because I am old and have less capacity for drinking that I don't go much any more? And do the young people have better things to do?
I idly wondered what might be a better use of these spaces, which would still involve selling drinks. The best I could think of was hooking up loads of X-boxes and Playstations and encouraging people to come down and play and drink. But perhaps the people who enjoy that sort of thing prefer to stay in their bedrooms, not having to interact with actual human beings, staying anonymous and mysterious and being able to pretend to be something they're not.
I don't have the answers, but I was just a bit shocked by this unexpected change and thought there was something rather poetic and sad about it. And the way the pub itself seemed to have had no time to forsee its own destruction. Somehow it reminded me of Pompeii. A business caught by surprise by its own demise.
Here's what's happened to it