Jess with some of the (Castle Rock) family at Nottingham Craft Beer Festival.
A love of the pub runs in the family.
Mother’s Day? Pub. Birthday? Pub. Tuesday? Pub. You get the idea.
So yes, my local means a lot to me. After months apart (spread across the midlands), it’s where my family met as soon as we were able during the earlier days of the pandemic.
Like me, my dad goes to the pub most nights. We both arrive early, drink a small amount of beer and stand at the bar, leave early. He does this in Northampton (Corkers); I do it in Nottingham (Vat and Fiddle).
Like me, my dad ventures in alone just “to see who’s in there”.
What do I get out of it? Well, I work at Castle Rock’s head office (adjacent to the brewery) so in the summer I get to walk out of work and into the beer garden at the Vat. Try not doing that when the sun’s still high in the sky at 5 o’clock and you’ve spent the day watching everyone else enjoy it! And in the winter it’s a go-between. A moment to brace myself for the cold before the bike ride home. A moments rest before I’m onto the next thing.
I rang my dad and asked him, What does your local mean to you? Because he has been doing it for so much longer, I thought his answer might be more profound.
Well, it’s just a nice place really. It’s the social aspect, isn’t it. I guess you could have a friend over for a drink but it wouldn’t be the same. It’s a good atmosphere and a good ambience. Well-ran, no trouble, friendly. Why, are you writing something then?
Yes, and I wanted it to be profound.
But the pub isn’t profound really, it’s about as far from that as you can get. It’s extremely self-explanatory. Understated and cosy. Warm. Easy-going. It’s whatever you want it to be, it’s where you go to have your expectations met.
Whether you crave company and conversation, or want to sit alone and savour some peace and quiet, the pub’s the place.
What makes a pub a ‘local’ is only partially about distance, only partially even about being a pub (my dad’s local is a champagne bar, yes, really) – it’s about familiarity and recognition. A safe haven, a respite, a smile. A sense of community. It’s about people.
As my dad said, it’s the social aspect. Sure, you could have a friend over but then you would be looking after them. At the pub, you get looked after.
My dad said, Sorry, I bet everyone says that.
I said, Yes they do, and no one ever mentions drink.
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