Dear my local pub,
Hi. How are you? It feels like forever since we’ve seen each other. How are you surviving in this craziness, are you keeping yourself well? Or are you covered in dust and grime, your glory days of World Cup fever 2018 a fading memory?
I miss you.
When I thought about who I would want to write a letter from lockdown to, writing a letter to pubs was my immediate thought. Which seems like an odd and mildly concerning choice seeing as a pub is not an actual person, and on the surface level is just a building. Since the beginning of lockdown, there have been so many bigger battles and completely awful situations than not being able to go to the pub, both on a person and national level. But a major struggle I think nearly everyone is facing, has been not being able to socialise with friends and family without a screen or a driveway in the middle. Going to the pub is such small fry in the great scheme of the world right now, but there hasn’t been a day of lockdown that I haven’t sent a text or received a text on the subject of wanting to be able to meet up in the pub.
I miss my local pub, who I’m writing this letter to, the most as it also doubles as my workplace. I’m blessed to be able to work with the loveliest team, who create not just a place to drink and eat, but a genuine community. I miss the small talk with the regulars, finding out what they had got up to that day and joking about an abundance of subjects, that on the surface seem mundane and futile, but all add up to a genuine friendship between bar staff and customers. Having a local pub isn’t just having a favoured spot to get drunk in, but first hand I’ve seen how a pub can be a therapy office of sorts, especially for men. It offers a safe space to open up to friends and staff alike, over the pretense of just having a drink. To quote HRH Gemma Collins ‘saying can I make you a tea, it’s like saying can I give you a grand’, pouring a pint is very rarely just an economic exchange. It’s the chance for human interaction, an opportunity to chat through some of your troubles or find common ground with someone new. I miss the sense of genuine teamwork that working behind a bar brings, and the shared love for other humans that is developed by sitting in a pub, drinking with friends.
But whilst I miss my local, I don’t think it’s a big exaggeration when I say that I miss literally every single pub I’ve ever stepped foot in, ever in my life. Most of the best memories I’ve shared in recent years with friends and families, have taken place in a pub. There’s genuinely not many better experiences, than sitting in a beer garden in the summer when the sun is just starting to set, laughing with your loved ones over something minor, which will soon be forgotten. We’re lucky to have the technology to keep in touch over Zoom or Facetime, but I will never again take for granted being able to spend the evening sitting with friends, whilst the empty glasses collect around us and the ash piles up in the trays.
Here are some other things I miss about going to the pub: the pure exhilaration when you realise the bartender has charged you for a single instead of a double, seeing cute dogs at the next table, a song being played on the speakers around 10:34pm and half the pub joining in, people watching couples and trying to work out what date they are on, discovering a really great new gin, properly poured fresh pints, the third cigarette break of the evening with your best mate, chatting to someone new in the smoking area, running into a friend you haven’t seen in months/years and catching up, a proper fattening Sunday Roast with my parents, discussing the previous evening’s Love Island episode, the first drink on a Friday evening, moaning about work with friends, he rush of love that hits you hard when your friend buys a bowl of chips to share, the pub turning into an impromptu crawl, deciding to go dancing at closing time and a friend buying in a round of shots that are fun that evening but regretted the next morning.
This current life we’re living in lockdown is completely necessary and will one day hopefully be a distant memory that we reminiscence about, remembering the new experiences and thoughts it brought. There are many important social and political changes that I hope are brought about when this time has ended. But on a lesser important note, I hope I never again take for granted being able to go to the pub with friends, or celebrate St Patrick’s Day, or raise a toast to a loved one who has passed with all my nearest and dearest, or enjoy Sunday’s in a food induced slumber with my family.
To my local pub, I miss you, I hope to see you very soon.
I even promise to laugh when a pub in central London charges me £15 for a double (before changing my order to something cheaper obviously).