19 February 2015

Gone

Wandering around the north west corner of Lincolnshire by foot and car, I came across the depressing sight of three country pubs that have closed their doors forever. Once - not so long ago - they would have bustled as the till drawer went in and out. They would have been at the very heart of their communities but now they have gone for good. Farewell to "The Lincolnshire Arms" in Luddington. Adieu to "The Barge Inn" in Keadby. Goodbye to "The Flixborough Inn" in Flixborough. We shall not see their like again.

No more the clacking bones of dominoes or thudding of darts upon the board. No more accidental spillage of beer on bar top towels or the sucking sound of the pumps or little pewter measures for spirits. Or roaring fires on winter nights reflected in horse brasses hanging on old black leather belts. No more business meetings or family celebrations or whist drives, beetle drives or Park Drives. No more antique teapots on the plate shelf or the lingering odour of tobacco smoke in curtains. Or old farmhands arriving on older bicycles with their trouser bottoms tied with twine. Or strangers from faraway on motorbikes unpeeling their leathers in the car park. Or brewery men unloading metal kegs from Sheffield. No regulars propping up the bar early doors. Or holiday postcards or sporting trophies or pictures of huntsmen leaping hedges. No more black cast iron pub tables or community notices on display or bleached smells from the lavatories or condom machines. Nor bags of crisps or jars of pickled eggs or middle-aged landlords with heavy guts curving under tight striped shirts or landladies with lipstick and earrings or "What can I get for you?" or charity boxes or "Haven't you got homes to go to?" or frosted window glass with the pub's name etched or slightly stained beer mats or Christmas carols. No more laughter or banter or rows or kisses or staggering homewards or juke box sounds or upright pianos for singalongs. And no more opening times. No never no more.

19 comments:

  1. Beautifully written but it's still a sad story.

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    1. No longer can I say, "I'll meet you in The Barge Inn Adrian and we'll down a pint or two!" Very sad.

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  2. It is very sad, and I wonder what the landlords and other people who used to work there do for a living now.

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    1. I think about that too but I don't know the answer.

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  3. Sad...it's sad to see those old pubs go...and it's also sad that the characters who played such huge roles in making them what they were...making the atmosphere what it was are no longer - they're gone forever, too. A way of life never to be regained. I wish the modern world...modern attitude realised they are still needed...needed for one's sanity, peace of mind...and goodwill.

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    1. The warning "Use it or lose it" is apposite here but the short-sightedness and greed of presiding breweries is also a key factor.

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  4. I think a lot of it is also down to rapacious owners demanding ever higher rents from their tenants in a stuffed market. The Flixborough Inn looks such a nice place but the name calls to mind the awful chemical explosion in 1974. I'd forgotten all about that until now.

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    1. It's a nice little village but yes Tom - in the churchyard there is a small monument to the twenty eight men who died that day. Across the river in Amcotts where Shirley's uncle is a farmer many houses were damaged by the enormous blast - windows blown in, chimney pots toppling, ceilings coming down

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  5. Who needs to get out and meet/see people when you've got a mobile phone, tablet, computer, TV, a microwave, and cheap beer from the supermarket....

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    1. Well that may be how you like to live your life Brian but it's not the way I want to go!

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  6. The Barge Inn - a great name for a pub, although my interpretation has more to do with barging through the doors in great haste, with the purpose of downing a pint or two...

    It's a sad thing to see history passing sometimes but I think Hippo and Brian have named the contributing factors leading to the demise of these pubs.

    Ms Soup

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    1. I can imagine you barging in and the landlord's eyebrows rising as you gasp at the bar "Gimme a pint!". Another god pub name I once saw in Glasgow - "The Muscular Arms"

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  7. My 'deep down me' agrees with every word and hankers for my youth when the pub was the meeting place. In particular the 'Ring O'Bells' where we retired every Thursday after bell-ringing (and at many other times too. It's still there. But then people don't have to get in a car to go to it: it serves a local community. Having said all that I don't very often set foot inside a proper pub these days.

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    1. I think that the demise of our pubs is what Bob Dylan was really thinking about when he wrote, "The Times They Are A' Changin'".

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  8. If those places were here in California, they'd be refurbished by younger people who sell boutique wines and beers and heavily trafficked by tourists. As long as the buildings stand, there is hope they can be brought back to life. In my very small community the local bar where all the farmers met for lunch was turned into the Sloughhouse Inn a few years ago. There have been some bobbles along the way, but the building was restored and has mostly operated since then. You'd make a great pub owner, YP. Somewhere near a hiking area.

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    1. Maybe I would, but I wouldn't allow any French people in. No tattoos either.

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  9. The way I think about is that it was a meeting place for the community. Yes, for a pint or two. But more for the news about births and deaths and which farmer was in trouble with bugs in the grain or cows going dry. Now, everywhere it seems, there is no need for that. Slowly, slowly those places are gone. Here, little villages and town used to have a Grange Building or something similar where the locals would gather to discuss and gossip. Too bad but if businesses don't flourish, then they will close. Another lost tradition.

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    1. You got it Mama Thyme. People are being driven back into their houses where they can flick the channels on their fancy flatscreen TVs - perhaps seeking programmes that depict the idea of community! How ironic!

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  10. Why no French?

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