Friday 17 November 2023
A good, or even a halfway decent, pub is more than just a building retailing alcoholic drinks. It's a community of people. With varying ties of varying strength between its members. But it's a fragile thing. Once destroyed, it's almost impossible to recreate. The loss of a local is far more than the simple demolition of a building.
I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Because my own local, the Butcher's Tears taproom, isn't just under threat, it's on death row. The whole area is to be demolished and replaced by posh flats. If the original plans had gone through, it would have been knocked down a couple of years ago. The end of the year was a recent plan. But, due to legal challenges that has now been pushed out to March.
For more years than I care to remember, me and a few of my mates have been meeting up there once a week. Joined more recently by my son Andrew. It isn't exactly the same group every week. Often someone is travelling or otherwise engaged.
We've been wondering where will be our new local. It's not an easy decision. Lots of factors are involved.
While our group will be able to find somewhere new to meet. the community feeling will be gone. Overt the years, we've come to know the other regulars. If only enough to give each other a nod of greeting. Though with others we indulge in a little music criticism. All these little interactions are important, however trivial they may individually be. And will inevitably be lost as everyone finds a new drinking home. Almost certainly not the same one.
Butcher's Tears closure will be a heavy blow. But we've only been drinking there for under a decade. What must have been the sense of loss for those who had frequented a pub forty years? It must have been like the death of a close relative.
Me? I'm just going to enjoy the last couple of months. I'll worry about the future later.