The pub has always been a special place for me. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that my Grandparents were publicans and how the smell of the pub gives me a warm feeling inside. It invokes memories of sitting in the lounge of The Two Pointers in Woodlesford eating crisps and sucking on a panda pop watching my Grandma and Grandad work. Maybe in hindsight seeing regulars coming in alone and seeking solace and company at the bar framed my thoughts on the purpose of the pub. For me it is akin to Church, a place to go to remember, a place to forget or just a place to reflect on the day.
I’ve never had a problem being in the pub on my own. In my late teens (I won’t disclose my actual age) a friend of mine worked behind the bar in our local pub and I used to go and sit at the bar all night supping halves of flat Carling and watching the world go by. I swear to this day I would never have got through my exams at school without these periods of quiet reflection and escapism. Filled with teenage angst and generally angry at the world it was these times alone in the pub that helped me process what I wanted from life. Going to the pub was like a form of therapy, particularly in the days before social media when everything felt less exposed. I have no doubt that my presence in the pub alone raised a few eyebrows. The village I grew up in isn’t the most forward thinking and they’re out of touch even to this day, however it never really occurred to me to care, the pub was my sanctuary and still is.
As a student in Newcastle when times were hard (which they often were) I would head to The Carriage alone and stare into a pint until I felt that I could face the world again. I can’t say I always felt better after sitting in the pub alone for hours, but it made me feel like I was able to go home and talk to my friends. After all alcohol is a depressant but it also loosens the lips and it meant that I felt able to confide in my long-suffering flat mate who regularly dragged me out of my pit of despair. He’s still a good friend now but our times together with beer are much less eventful these days! University is a hard place to be at times and without the sanctuary of the pub I don’t think I would have stuck it out.
Whilst on maternity leave my stolen hours sat in North Bar while the baby slept were a tonic. Knowing I could go in and see familiar faces behind the bar and sit quietly alone being ‘me’ for an hour felt like a prize. Again, I don’t know if there were raised eyebrows at my being in the pub alone with a baby. I have no doubt if I were a man alone with a baby the general consensus would be that it was great that Dad was giving Mum a break. Not sure thoughts of that nature would come quite so easily when the tables are turned but I like to think the establishments I choose to drink in are filled with likeminded people.
So today my moments alone in the pub are generally much more enjoyable. Its usually that sneaky half hour I get before meeting up with others that I enjoy the most. The time to sit and enjoy a beer, (usually something far too dark and strong because there’s no-one to tell me that would be a bad idea) listen to music and people watch/check Twitter. But when times are hard and the world becomes too much I know I can take time out, bury myself away in a corner with beer and sad songs and attempt to get back to where I was before. So in the words of Holly Golightly (ish) when times are hard I go to the pub “it calms me down right away, the quietness….nothing very bad could happen to you there”
To anyone who has never gone to the pub alone I challenge you to try it, on a good day or a bad day just take the time to sit alone and enjoy the solitude.