I’ve been pretty positive about the return of pubs, but this week in Devon I found myself a little (silently) irritated about a few of the ways Covid compliance was being applied. No admittance without a table booking, drinkers outside only, payment via the app only.
Just for the record, that makes me a prat. Publicans are doing a tremendous job in tough circumstances, trying to make pubs welcoming but safe, and a little inconvenience won’t hurt me.
Here’s an example of a publican doing a great job welcoming folk back to the pub. You’ve met Tom at the Hare & Hounds already.
He tempted me back on a Thursday lunchtime with the “B” word.
You know what’s coming next.
“Doh, it’s just gone” said Tom, ALMOST apologetically, as my face dropped (kidding, it’s always looked like that). That’s the problem with occasional stockists. 80-odd pints sold in 2 days, apparently. Good grief.
“Not to worry Tom. I’m not THAT big a fan of Bass, it’s all for show“.
To be honest, I wanted to see how Tom’s legendary cellarmanship was shaping up 3 weeks in. And Nene Valley are dead good. Just not Bass.
I’ll be honest. I thought I’d be the only customer on a Thursday lunchtime between “Rishi Days” and the weekend, asking Tom the same questions I’d asked him a fortnight before.
But by 12:15 it was filling up with gentlefolk.
Gentlefolk with more muscles than me having cycled from Melbourn (not THAT Melbourne, yet), or walked round Barrington cement works.
I love the sight of a pub unexpectedly filling up. Tom greeted them all with the same easy charm, and made the two who wanted to wear their masks inside as welcome as those who didn’t.
“Are you a handle or a straight” he asked the beer drinkers.
I’d rated the beers in that first week good; here the Nene Valley was NBSS 3.5 and 4. The pie of the day was off the scale.
I berated the villagers for drinking the Bass, but silently rejoiced at a pub selling 4 pints, a half and a coffee within 5 minutes of opening.
“Try the Nene Valley, it’s very….toothsome“. Wow, I’m in a grown-ups pub, like that one I finished Surrey at.
There was more going on than in a Mike Leigh play, with Tom playing Mike.
And then it struck me. The village had its pub back. After FIVE months cooped up
watching Narcos they were able to chat to their mates, complain about Tom’s music choice (Blur, Nick Drake, John Grant) and hold court.
And drink wonderful beer, but you know that’s secondary.
They’ve got their pub back.