Friday, 21 August 2015

Column 28, 2015 – The importance of The Pub

Printed in The Cricket Paper, issue 131, Friday August 21, 2015.
[Full text below]

Some people regard cricket solely as a mechanism for working up a thirst.

I think that’s probably going a little far, but I can appreciate it as a philosophy.

Certainly I agree that the hour or two spent in the pub garden after a match – dissecting it, celebrating it, rueing it, even collectively ignoring it – is an intrinsic part of the game. If for any reason I have to rush off after stumps, it feels like I’ve missed some vital element. Like having a bat then leaving before we field.

We are extremely lucky with our pub.

Proximity is one major plus. If you’re sitting on the bench outside the pavilion, it’s roughly the same distance to the crease as it is to the bar in The Compasses, just in the opposite direction.

But the warmth of the welcome is a bigger bonus. A country pub is a village’s beating heart, and ours has a good strong pulse.

It wasn’t always this way. We’ve had some great landlords in the past, but recently some less great ones. The previous owners cared little for cricket, or weekend trade, or the village’s heartbeat. In a famous nadir two summers ago they pretended to be out after a Sunday friendly, rather than serve two dozen thirsty punters.

Shortly afterwards they did a runner, taking everything that wasn’t nailed down, as well as several things that were, including most of the kitchen, and even the woodburners.

The sight of those doors boarded over was chilling. Along with the village school, the pub was a major factor when we settled here. The seeming certainty of my summer garden pints, my winter pool team and log fires being turned into a retirement home haunted my dreams those few bleak weeks.

But then new landlords Simon and Lee arrived like a breath of fresh air.

Along with their virtual defibrillator, they brought with them experience, enthusiasm, and a fundamental understanding of what a village pub should be. The food is great, they care about beer and know how to keep it, they put on live music and summer festivals. It is busy, buzzy, and once again the heart of the village.

Better yet they have embraced the cricket club, sponsoring our shirts, and – perhaps best of all – provide us with post match sustenance. A magnificent speciality sausage roll, about the size and shape of a giant’s cricket bat blade, filled with eggs through the middle, gleefully christened the ostrich sausage.

So after a game, you will always find us in that beer garden, congregated around an impressive pastry, discussing that catch (“man that was some catch” / “how did you drop that?”) that LBW (“plumb” / “missing the next set”) and various other cricket related nonsense that begins “It’s like that time…” or “Do you remember that game when…”

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He would have enjoyed the beer garden after the game. Cheers.

- ends 490 words -

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