Yesterday, I thought I would call at an old favourite pub to sample a few beers and catch up with people I had not seen over the holidays. I was in for a bit of a shock. The pub was still there, but things were not right. I would guess from the state of the place and the minimal range of beers available that it was on the verge of closing. I will not name the pub in case of embarrassment if I am wrong, but it got me thinking a bit.
I cannot recall any of the pubs I care about actually closing. Some have changed licensees, for better or worse, but I have not been in this one when there has been such a sense of desperation in the air. It is always a shame for a pub to close, but it is more than that. The landlord will move on, either inside or outside the trade, but the ones that really suffer are the customers. They have treated the pub as a second home, somewhere to catch up with friends or to take a few minutes away from the madding crowd. Where do they go? If they're lucky there are other pubs close by that they can move on to, but without the feelings of belonging they have had and without being part of a community that a pub engenders. Thankfully the pub in question is not in a village, where to lose the focal point would be a tragedy for all concerned, but it is sad to see nevertheless.
All I can hope is that I am wrong and the place remains open and goes from strength to strength, but I left with a feeling that I had just witnessed the end of an era. Not a pleasant feeling to welcome in the new year with.