Life is about change; sometimes it is change we want, other times maybe not so much. One thing that you can rely on though is the comfort of your favorite watering hole, where, as that old sitcom’s theme tune used to say, “Everybody knows your name”. Less of a fortress of solitude and more a place of pulling the piss, these piles of bricks and mortar are a special constant in our lives. They are places where we laugh and cry, where legends are made and their stories told; where myths and heroes are in the very fabric of the building, and let’s not forget, they are places where there is beer!
There are so many reasons why these places are chosen, maybe it starts off as just being the closest place to stagger home from on a cold night but ends up as the place where you found you belong in the local community. Or maybe it is where you stopped one night on the way home from work with a misfire and found out that you really liked the barmaid, ended up marrying her and now have to go there every day to pick her up.
I am in that lot, somewhere
In my case it was just a case of it being the biker’s bar for as long as anyone could remember…probably about 8 hours seeing the state of some of the people in there. It had the sort of history brings with it a load of baggage, a mythology if you will and I just felt dran to the place. There was one slight problem, how do you even build up the nerve to go and order a drink in a place that makes the darts scene in “American Werewolf in London” seem like a knitting circle getting to meet you social event? There is only one way: grow a pair, walk in, wait your turn observing what everyone else is drinking, order that and then find a corner and keep your mouth shut! Of course it helps when you have a like minded friend or two along with you, drinking alone is never fun and you don’t want to look like a Billy Nomates do you? I remember months, gradually learning the craic in the bar, who was who and more importantly who mattered, for whatever reason. Then the evening arrived when I became someone in that bar and not just part of the scenery, the day when one of the “old boys” bought “the young ‘un” a pint and started a conversation.
Told you it started long time ago!
That was years ago and now I am one of those old boys, the people who are etched into the fabric of the place. Stories of road trips, epic races, practical jokes, fights won, friends made and bollocks talked…it is not a place where life is stagnant, it is a place you go to recover because life is full and exciting. It is where plans are made, where trips start out from, a place where parties go to chill out. The sticky carpet and smoke stained walls hold the essence of all of who made it past the keeping our mouth shut stage.
Except as of last weekend it doesn’t anymore….Sunday night the place burned down. Over forty years of history went in a few short hours and as we gathered round what was left, trying to catch the last moments and hold on to them we realized that an era was over.
We need a new home….