Monday, 11 January 2010

Pub talk: smelly pubs and pub smells

Now that they no longer reek of cigarette smoke, too many pubs reek of other things that the cigarette smoke masked.

I don't know whether it's because a fall-off in trade means pubs can't refurbish as often as they used to, or whether it was inevitable, but there are several pubs, clinging on for economic dear life, that smell so strongly of piss these days that I can't go into them anymore. And so, losing even more business, they spiral ever downward. I could predict a few more hostelries that will soon be joining this sorry list from the Lost Pubs Project, a fascinating undertaking.

I still love that smell of stale beer you get around the door of a good pub. It brings back childhood memories of being left in the children's room at the Cooper's Arms, Rochester by my mother. This small pub on St Margaret's Street was full on a Saturday afternoon with locals, hippies, art school students and trainee teachers (eek!). My mother was in the last category.

Dressed in her finest donkey jacket, she would install me in the side room with all the other drinkers' offspring, where we would sit around a large wooden table with glass bottles of coke and packets of plain crisps. God knows what we talked about! I feel this was an essential training for life and wouldn't have missed it for all the middle-class upbringings in the world.

Postscript. In 'researching' this blogpost I learned of the existence of something that men and pub landladies know all about, but concerning which I had been in complete ignorance: the urinal cake. Ain't education a wonderful thing?

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