So far today, the hardest thing for me to do has been to go past so many freshly opened pubs and resist going in. I now try to keep my drinking to a minimum, and Monday drinking is strictly off limits; but the sight of pubs finally being open, with people sat outside at last having something resembling a social life, proved very enticing indeed. It isn’t the beer per se (I can, after all, have a drink at home if I really wanted) as much as the way in which pubs function as community hubs. People gather in them, often after long days at work, and let their proverbial hair down. They are places where you can find people from all walks of life, with all kinds of background; they are places where you can make new friends. People are sometimes surprised to find a person like me in a pub, so they come up to me and introduce their selves. Occasionally we have remained in contact over Facebook. Alternatively I sometimes just sit and observe people, gathering ideas for stories and blog entries.
Best of all, they are places to meet up with your mates, which is what I’ve missed the most. Two years or so ago, I remember meeting my old uni mates Chris and Steve at the Royal Standard in Blackheath, and chatting like the three of us were still up in Alsager. I suggested the Standard because it was an easily findable pub we could all get to. Pubs are landmarks as well as gathering points. They are places where you can meet up and have a bit of fun. After the last year, I’m really, really looking forward to being able to do that again: as soon as I can, I plan to invite Steve, Chris, Charlotte and whoever else I can to my new place in Eltham to show them around and have a drink. It now feels far too long since I last saw any of those guys.
That is the point of pubs. Going in to one today as I passed them, just because I could, would have been pointless. I would have had a beer or two, and the rest of the day would have been useless. It was best to wait for an occasion which could be relished, shared and possibly blogged about the next day.