Author Topic: Down the pub

Ian H

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Down the pub
« on: May 22, 2008 »
A varying number of us meet on Wednesday evenings at one of several village pubs between here and Exeter. Yesterday it was the smallest village, a place off the beaten track. The pub is a thatched white building at the roadside. The garden is a rough mown field with some benches and a clothesline. I was a bit late and S was sitting outside. My pint was ready waiting. Only the two of us tonight. The pub was quiet because most folk were at home watching the football.

After a while it got cold and we went inside. Craig, the owner of the disabled buggy, greeted us. He's a regular, has his own marked parking space. He can only manage single words, and those not always clearly. He's sometimes obviously frustrated trying to communicate. He will pat his head and repeat "Head, head..." then "Car, car..." Which is the abbreviated story of how he was knocked off his bike and left with serious head injuries and mobility problems.

Two men, one young, one old, are the only other occupants of the bar. The young fellow is in heavy boots and an old jacket. He's a farm worker having a break before going back to work. The old chap is so weather-beaten he appears at first glance not to have washed for months. The combination of an accent stronger than I've heard for a while, and a complete lack of teeth, makes it hard to understand him at first.

Craig calls "Wah?" repeatedly until he's told it's one-one. The Landlord and his wife are rushing about and looking harassed because there's a family having a meal at the far end.

The old man questions us about where we've come from and wants details of our routes. Each time we mention a place he repeats the name as if reflecting on memories.

"So you comes out ere of an evenin an meets up, eh?" This with a broad grin and a filthy laugh.

I said S and I were only cycling friends, at which he cackled loudly and twisted round on his stool. His hand made a fist and, just momentarily, thumb and little finger lifted.

"You stirrin it?" Said the young man to him.

"No, no. I woont do at." He was still laughing.

After a while they depart. We drink up and leave. At the crossroads by the cowsheds we part company.

I encounter several large tractors in the lanes, arrayed with lights  for night-time harvest. There's a freshly killed fox lying on the white line on the main road. Owls twit - but no answering to-woo - in the trees. Something runs across ahead, possibly a fox, though it looks darker and appears to have longer back legs.

And so up the hill and home.