Updated: Aug 6
The village pub was a real institution in the '60's and '70's. 'spoons has done a brilliant job recently at revitalising town pubs - but it cannot compete with traditional village old-fashioned pubs.
Back in the day, I used to run to the bus station at The Newark, Leicester (where Richard lll was displayed after being killed on Bosworth Field) from work, just in time for the 5.15pm to Blaby. (BTW, '5.15' is a great track on The Who album, 'Who's Next? Their best album by far.) Anyway, the Midland Red double-decker 'L27' would drop me right outside my door on Lutterworth Road - if it was lucky - but I would hop off at The Bull's Head, the stop before. Roy Smith ran the pub then. Remember him? And his German wife, Bruni? He was a true professional. He would only be seen in a clean shirt, waistcoat, trousers - and bow tie. His well-groomed moustache completed the picture. Roy - you were a real gent!
Back to the point - the bus would arrive a few minutes after opening time at 5.30pm. The windows would be open, too, to 'air' the place. Thankfully, not too much. My pal and workmate at the time - 'Jinksy' (whatever happened to him?) - would walk into an empty pub, order a couple of pints, before picking up the darts for a few games before heading home for tea. Tea was at 6.20pm - -ish.
That was because dad would arrive home from work at 6.15pm - after a nine hour day in the factory in Aylestone, having clocked in at 8 am. He was a foreman in a hosiery factory.
But back to the SMELL. It filled the nostrils with a familiarity that was one of the many sights, sounds and... you guessed it ... you could rely on. Good old-fashioned stale beer and fags - deeply steeped into the carpet. (At least in the Lounge, it was a harder job for the smells to penetrate the lino in the Bar. But they managed.)
Pubs opened at lunch-times then. Jinksy and I would often frequent town pubs for a cheese cob (that's cheese roll for you Southerners) and a game of darts. We had no idea what happened in our village pub at lunch-time then - anyway, it's the midlands we're talking about, so lunch-time was actually dinner-time.
(S'funny. Even Southerners talk about school 'dinners' - not lunches. How do you explain that?)
Mum (or 'mam' as we called them in those days) would ignore the fact I had been to the pub already. But she knew. As long as I was in before dad, that was OK. I lived just 5 minutes walk from The Bull, so I always got home in time.
Sometimes - no, correction, quite often - I would go for another session after tea, meeting Jinksy and a few others at 'half eight' for two hours before closing time.
It was great - with darts, cards, dominoes - but NO pool, juke box or gaming machines as a distraction. AND NO MOBILE PHONES! Ah, bliss!
And - bearing in mind it was now three hours since my first visit - there was no smell.
But that was OK. I had already had my 'fix'!
P.S. If YOU, Dear Reader, fancy a 'fix' of a story based in the mid-sixties to mid-seventies - with a mystical/romantic edge to it - Dark Eyes.
It's the prequel to my new novel available on Amazon, in Kindle and paperback version - Finding Rose.