This week is a momentous one in England, not simply because of the long awaited lifting of restrictions on hugging our friends and family, but we can finally take back our favourite table inside our local and sip a cold one.
Pubs are a huge part of our history and heritage, and everyone has a story about an unforgettable night they’ve had in one, be it good or bad. A place where people gather, tales are told and friendships made. They’re also a pretty good place to hide from the rain.
Without romanticising the humble public house too much, I’d very much like to tell you a few of my favourite things about this beautiful institution.
Cast your mind back to the days when people smoked indoors. The smoke clung to the walls and ceilings, turning them a wonderful shade of yellow (some pubs still possess this redeeming feature). As much as we wouldn’t want this experience nowadays, the fond memory of walking into a pub with my family on holiday – wafting the lingering smoke away and smelling the freshly poured beer – is a feeling that has long stayed with me. Although the days of indoor smoking have thankfully passed, having pub doors open once again means catching a hint of that age-old smell as you pass on the street outside.
If you can’t make it to the stadium to see your favourite team, or there’s a big game for the whole country, the pub is often the best place to watch it. Think back to the 2018 World Cup and Kieran Trippier’s free kick against Croatia – never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a monumental response ripple across a pub. No matter what your sport is, all can be viewed over a beer. The simple gathering of like-minded fans is a beautiful interaction.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a rotten day at work, had your heart broken or your football team got relegated from the football league (cheers, Grimsby Town, love you). Where else would you want to go to share that experience? Gathering your friends around a table with glasses full of
beer and pouring out how you feel is the most liberating thing. Sometimes only your local pub will do as a space to vent and put it all to bed.
But what is a pub? It’s a building where people of all backgrounds, all creeds and beliefs gather together for whatever reason to sit down and enjoy a drink. It unites every facet of a society. The community feel in your own local is a wonderfully special thing. Surrounded by people who you would perhaps never cross in your day-to-day life, but happily throw a “Hello, mate” to. The pub is a warm embrace and an impartial friend, giving a sense of belonging.
No other place on Earth oﬀers you a space to do such a simple thing yet achieve so much, because of this I say: thank you, and long live the pub.
Written by Tom Loughran