Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Big up the pub.

According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) twenty-nine pubs close down every week in Britain because pints are too pricey for the punters and they've stopped coming*, but you wouldn't know it if you lived in Tooting. In the twenty-odd years we've lived here the area has gentrified its socks off with newly-renovated pubs and wine bars springing up all over the place. Now even our local has joined ranks and come over all craft beer, retro lighting, and full to the brim with people. Consequently I was in there on Wednesday night last. And on Friday night last. And on Saturday night last... 

"WHERE WERE ALL THESE PEOPLE BEFORE?" shouts a friend, over the roar of the rugby-watching crowd as we stand at the new bar, perusing a new set of pumps sporting a brand new assortment of beers.


"WHAT?" he shouts back.

"I SAID..."

"OH, RIGHT," he shouts. "ME TOO."

I look around. It's changed beyond recognition. The fruit machines have gone and so has 'Polish Elvis,' as my boys called him, who played here every Thursday, apparently. I never actually saw him myself, I only saw his advertisement on the window. I've no idea where he's gone to, hopefully not all the way back to Poland. Perhaps he's found a pub only slightly further down the Northern line where the demographic is only slightly less millennial. Morden maybe. 

I say millennial but in truth there's every age-group in here, including families. I can see frazzled-looking parents with toddlers playing chaotic games of Connect 4, bright-eyed hipsters with gleaming beards, middle-aged soaks with too many drinks in front of them and too many years behind them and even elderly people, in the form of a couple who have been coming here for years, according to the bar staff, still resolutely clinging on in the midst of this new swell of people. I've seen them here every time I've been in, tiny and frail and looking more than a little surprised by the changes wrought around them. They sit side by side near the back, marooned in the middle of a huge leather sofa, their matching pints on a low table in front, unable to hear themselves think - or each other speak - over the boom of the slightly-too-loud music, and on this occasion the rugby. Not that they ever seem to say anything anyway. On Saturday evening I noticed he was holding her hand, quite tightly, perhaps for anchorage. 

"Have you seen those two over there?" I say to a different friend, having battled my way back from the bar with her glass of sauvignon blanc.

"I know!" she exclaims, nudging her husband. "Look, so sweet, that'll be us when we're old."

"If I'm still with you," he replies.

I look at her crestfallen face. "Tell you what," I say, "when we're old and our husbands have left us, or died, let's sit in here together and hold hands."

"Thanks, mate," she says.

On Monday I'm in the kitchen working on my laptop when Eldest comes in to make his morning coffee. He has a train to catch back to university later that afternoon. 

"So," I say, "and your plans for today are?"

"Well," he says. "I thought I'd hang out with you and we could go back to the pub and have a pint and some pizza."

Love E x



Here are ten more great pubs and restaurants in Tooting.

The Little Bar -

In memory of Martin Pannett whose bar this last one was.  

No comments:

Post a Comment