Monday, 18 February 2013

Last Orders....

Looking out of the window and seeing the thick blanket of snow, I decided there was no way I was going to get on a bus again only to get stuck in traffic due to the weather,  rush into college and learn it was cancelled because our tutor lived in Brighton and so didn't want to risk the journey to Essex in the extreme weather.

My mobile rang a little while after I made my decision (the classic nokia 3310 ring tone of yesteryear) and my then very good friend Keith was on the other end, asking if I fancied going for a lunchtime drink as he wasn't going into college either. Why Not! I was all up to date on my work (Well enough for me to warrant going out). I got my groove on and was out the door quicker than you could say 'What'll it be luv?'...

'Back in a couple of hours Mum!' I shouted as I went out the door... 'Just going for a couple of lunchtime drinks....'

Before I knew it, it was 10.30 at night and my Mum was ringing me just to make sure I was still alive, still at the pub and still in one piece as I had been there the whole day. Not something I did very often I will say, the pub was usually just an 'evening thing' or a 'late afternoon to evening' thing in the summer but that day was brilliant! I bumped into old school friends, new college friends and me and the chums I had gone down there with had simply lost track of time having such a giggle. One of my favourite memories of that day was running out of money, walking into town to go to a cash point and seeing a car drive passed with a snowman on top. One of my lesser favourite memories of that day is the snow fight that followed......THAT was cold!

I will never forget when we first started trying our chances in that pub, a friend who I had gone to school with left his wallet in there after a boozy night so the landlord had looked in it to find some I.D. and learn who's the wallet was, only to discover this friend was a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday. The next time he came in with a few friends, the landlord asked if there was anything he needed to be told, my friend looked confused until the landlord handed back the wallet with his I.D. just poking out of the top. Said friend rolled his eyes having realised the game was up. 'Come back when you're eighteen.' he was told while being shown the door. The landlord then turned to the rest of his mates and said:

'Yes gentleman, what can I get you?!'

Hilarious! Not for amoment did it cross his mind that maybe he should check these babyfaced cherubs I.D. too! Needless to say as soon as our unlucky friend was 18 he once again graced the sticky pub carpet.

That was all ten years ago now....... there were many other good times that followed in that pub; theme nights, get togethers, pre birthday drinks and lot's more but sadly today it now stands empty and boarded up having gone out of busniness a couple of months ago.

Like many other pubs all over the UK it was no longer making money; it is a small town and a pub nearby takes most of the business simply because it is run by younger people who are constantly revamping it to continually appeal to the young drinkers. The beer garden is particularly impressive too with outside heaters, sofas and TV's so none of the football get's missed if you are outside having a ciggy or enjoying the sun. Add to that the fact that a lot of people also opt to stay at home and drink now because it is cheaper you can understand it's struggle. It just didn't keep up with the times.

It was a bit of an institution in our little town because of it's unique name of 'The Catcracker' which is taken from the process of 'Catcracking' used at the nearby oil refinery. My Dad in his youth used to frequent this pub as did many other generations of locals. In the early 90's (I think) the name of the pub was changed and there was a big petition by angry regulars to change it back. It meant quite a lot to people back then!

Sadly, despite the fact that was only twenty years ago it didn't have the same reputation in it's last weeks that it did then. To put it bluntly the place was a shithole. I don't live there anymore but if I did I wouldn't have drank in there, I hadn't been in there for quite a long time actually (mainly because I have moved away though).  The last owners had obviously long given up on it so it looked tatty, which is probably partly to blame for it's demise although I can't imagine it is as easy as it once was to run a successful pub in this day and age.

Now it will probably be torn down to make way for flats or worse yet it will become a mini supermarket which means smaller shops or newsagents just slightly further up the road will suffer.

Such a shame....Despite the amount of places we can go and see, sometimes there really isn't anything better than popping to your local for a drink.

CLOSING TIME: My first ever watering hole is now just an empty building.

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