There was a pub in your town. It wasn’t your favourite pub, maybe not even your second favourite pub, but it was on your ‘crawl’ since you were able to grow enough facial hair to convince doormen you were practically 18.
The landlord was friendly, the beer was decent, and you knew you had a decent shout of a lock-in if you were there at closing.
For those of you who are unaware, a ‘lock-in’ was one of life’s great pleasures, and something you don’t often experience in the heady days of 24 hour drinking.
Come kicking out time punters would start muttering – always in hushed tones – about the possibility of a late drink. One of your mates was pally with the landlord and he’d be volunteered to engage him in completely forced conversation to gauge whether or not you should ring your Mam (#northern) and ask her to put a pizza in or whether you might be a wee while longer.
Last orders would be called, and people would start filing out. Your nerves would be jangling. You’d be one of about ten people left in the place. Should we just bite the bullet and go like everyone else or stand firm.
Come 11.30, the landlord would scan the pub to assess the cut of the jib of the hardy souls who remained and if they weren’t complete arseholes (the bar was usually pretty low) he’d secure the front door from the inside, draw the curtains, and you were in! Your patience had paid off, and you could look forward to seeing the sunrise in your seat if the fancy took you.
What was my point again? Oh yes.
It might be The Red Lion, or it might be The Royal Oak. The Queen’s Head maybe.
Despite being busy from time to time, in the face of difficult economic conditions and changing attitudes to drinking, your lovely little pub struggled to keep the lights on, and on occasion has even been threatened with closure.
Big breweries have showed interest in it from time to time, but it never quite worked out for them, and old Pete, the landlord always came back whenever it needed a steady hand on the tiller.
But now Wetherspoons have taken over. They’ve raised the bar with their drinks offers and their unmistakably Wetherspoons interior that you’ll find in umpteen other pubs. Your third favourite pub is noticeably more popular, and you’re glad for them.
But old Pete has gone and so has its identity. Your favourite ale is no longer on draft, and you’ve got absolutely no chance of a lock-in. It’s become a ‘bar’.
So the next time you’re out, you give it a miss. You find another pub with a bit more personality.
As you walk by you notice it’s full to the brim, but you’re still not tempted to go in.
Goodbye Sauber, enjoy your success Alfa Romeo.
I hope old Pete comes back.