I’ll repeat what I said in a previous post:
“If you want to know what is happening in an English village, just sit in the pub for an hour or two.” I am convinced that this is true. Pubs and not bars in the way we know bars in the States. If the village is small enough, nearly everyone who lives nearby will stop in for a pint, a dinner or a quick chat. It’s the way the social network works in this little country.
I’ve been in quite a few pubs during my time here. As many of you know, I lived in Dorset for a year and have returned to see old friends and visit old haunts in 2012, 2014 and this year. I seem to gravitate to Dorset because there is something about the ancient footpaths, hedgerows and pubs that have made their way into the core of my being. In my second book, “An American in Dorset”, I try to explain my feelings. I’m not sure I can fully describe how the wind blowing through a field of rape or an ancient copse of oaks hides secrets or how an ancient tumuli holds the bones of someone who walked the fields and tended sheep while the Egyptians were building the pyramids.
As I’ve tried to give you, my faithful reader, a look at a small English church, I will take you into a typical pub and make a humble attempt to give you the feel and the experience.
My photo gallery:
[Most pub signs are decorative, clever, artistic and usually relate to something local…though not always. Common themes are Kings, Queens, Harts, Arms, it goes on and on. My personal favorite is the pub I spent a great deal (in the year I lived in Dorset, 1984-85), of time having dinner and sipping my Best Bitter is the Barley Mow]
[There is usually a cozy place to sit beside the fireplace.]
[I would say that it’s a rare pub that does not have at least one TV so you can keep up with the Leeds football game with Liverpool.]
[Other than the ever-present dart board (failed to get a photo, sorry mate), there is often a Skittles game in the rear of the pub. It’s a bowling sort of game.]
[A great selection of beers is found in most pubs…and sometimes a pretty barmaid to serve it to you.]
[Many pubs have charming posters…here’s one.]
[Here is the desert menu. Third from the bottom??? Don’t ask.]
[Yes, I took a photo in the Gents room to illustrate the communal nature of the urinal. These are not found as often as they once were. But, at least you had someone to talk to while you went. Remember: you don’t “buy” beer, you “rent” it.]
[And, at the hour that all men dread…it used to be 11:00 pm for decades…the pub owner would ring a bell (at 10:50 pm) and say rather loudly: “last call!”. Then at 11:00 pm sharp, the bell would ring again with the age old…”Time, gentlemen, please.”
I loved the culture and atmosphere of the English pub, from the Duke of Wellington in London to the Horned Ram in Puddletown. There is a long and lovely history of uncountable lives that played out in the pubs of England.
This is my final post from England. Tomorrow, we fly to Dublin, Ireland and spend eight days in the country where people walk and work and drink…that have my very own blood in their veins.
Tomorrow I’m going home.