Pubpaper 784 – The real reason for the local pub!

Posted: 9th November 2014 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

The local pub is important, along with the local shop, chippie, post office and takeaway, it’s what differentiates a housing estate from a village.  There are places where people can meet and interact as part of day to day life, they give people a reason to stay in the local area and the create networks of contacts and friends over time.   How many times have you heard someone who lives on one of these faceless new mega estates that they don’t even know their neighbours as they just “reside” there, not “live” there.

Nothing demonstrates this more than Bonfire Night at my local pub The Cock and Bottle, Southowram.  It’s become a bit of a tradition now for the Cawood family (who own the pub) and the staff to put on a bonfire, fireworks, pie and peas and all the trimmings you’d expect from a fireworks night.   The pub car park and pub itself is full with people, some of which are regulars, some of which only come once or twice a year for special events such as this and they put on a great show.

But the fireworks are not the most important bit of the night in my opinion, they may take all of the glory, but it is the entire village getting together for an occasion we should be focusing on.   My youngest daughter does not like fireworks, the noise scares her rotten, and I’m not particularly bothered about watching them, so I normally end up taking her inside the pub while the night sky is being lit up and my eldest girl and wife stay outside to watch.

The value of nights like this show when seen in the family dynamic, my eldest went off with one of her best friends to watch the bonfire, my youngest was playing in the back room of the pub with her best friend from school.   Friends from the village we haven’t spoken to for a while were caught up with, all of this on a basic level strengthens the backbone of the village.  Where else would you within a couple of hours arrange to get your boiler serviced, provisionally plan to do some band photos, whilst talking to multiple other people and having good quality family time.

If you go a a big display, its “wham bam thank you maam”, as soon as the fireworks have ended everyone goes home.  Here people stayed about after the festivities, chatting and drinking, having a good time.   We stayed another hour or so after everything had finished, other groups stayed on a lot longer.  You saw people drifting between conversations within the pub throughout the night, people with mutual acquaintances joining in conversation creating new links, social circles being crossed over.

We all have multiple social circles where we live and most of the time we see them in isolation, just off the top of my head, we as a family have “friends from the kids dancing lessons”, “playground friends from my daughter’s primary school”, “cricket club friends”, “people who I’ve worked with on charity events” and “local trades people who I’ve employed / done work for”.  If I sit down and think about it there will be many more.  There is limited crossover most of the time, but where you do get blur these circles new business dealings and personal relationships form.

This needs a melting pot to soften these social circles.   When you have local pub owned by local people who used to be regulars at the pub and know a lot of the village through its previous incarnation, it breeds loyalty and when you give back to the community with events like this, any success is well deserved.   Its not just about a bumper night behind the bar on the night, but encouraging regular return visits outside of such event, planting the idea in peoples heads that instead of driving out to the pub, why not walk down to the local.

Such custom is the lifeblood of village local pubs and wherever they are they deserve our support, the more custom they get the more they can afford to put things on for the community, because if they can’t pay the bills, the fireworks aren’t going to happen.