Passions Just Like Mine – No.1 The Boozer

boozer [ˈbuːzə]
n Informal
1. a person who is fond of drinking
2. pub, local (Brit. informal), bar (informal, chiefly Brit.), inn, tavern, public house, watering hole (facetious slang), roadhouse, hostelry, alehouse

The pub is close to extinction. Just this week CAMRA have announced that up to 12 pubs are closing in the UK each week I know this is somewhat old news as in the last ten years pubs seem to be closing with greater frequency than a Myleene Klass TV appearance, but it’s still a genuine worry for me. While many of my passions dwindle in their intensity with each passing year, my love for the traditional boozer grows stronger. I’ve taken to planning visits of pubs as yet unexplored (by myself) with an intensity not seen since attempting to complete the Panini Mexico 86 sticker album. Days out with family and meet ups with mates are built around the promise of finding virgin pub territory. My worn Good Pub Guide is a trusty toilet companion. So what will I do if the pub really does go the way of the dodo? It truly doesn’t bear thinking about, but I know an England without pubs wouldn’t be any England I’d want to be a part of.

My interest for the pub was first aroused at a tender age. As a child I often wandered what went on behind those fortress-like doors and glazed windows. My mother insisted that pubs were a place where idle men with low IQ’s resided, frequented by undesirables of the worst kind. How wrong she was. The pub is a palace of pleasure; a temple to the healing powers of ale; a refuge from the trials and tribulations of the outside world. She was right about them attracting some of society’s less desirable characters, but the odd nut job and bar room bore is a small price to pay – it keeps them off the streets for a few hours at least.

In my youth I spent much time in the pub, sometimes whole days, and I can’t say I ever gave much thought to my surroundings. As long as there was minimal chance of being glassed by a local or a dress code to adhere to I’d happily drink in most venues. I didn’t even question the quality of the beer that much. In fact I’d have probably drunk through a prop forward’s sweaty jock strap providing they were still serving and the jukebox was throwing out some sounds.

Today I don’t get much opportunity for sybaritic afternoons, but that just makes the time spent in a boozer that much more precious. Long gone are the days of necking mass-produced lagers, replaced by a love for all things real ale, and just any pub won’t do, it has to have that authentic feel that only a traditional, proper boozer can muster. I’m thinking about those that are almost cathedral-esque inside with the fading light only punctuated with the odd shard of light from what few windows there are and where, once firmly holed up inside, it could be anytime of day. There’s also that smell of wet wood or old carpet, sometimes both, that should be repugnant but is manna to the senses for you know this way true love lives. The boozer is reassuringly familiar and yet each one has a life and personality of its own. You know it feels right the moment the bar person asks ‘What can I get you?’ and you know it feels wrong if they say, ‘Will you be eating with us today?’ before they’ve even begun pouring your pint. And you know it’s definitely wise to turn around and head back the way you came if your presence receives a colder welcome than the locals at The Slaughtered Lamb.

Hopefully the day shall not pass when time is called on pubs altogether, but just in case I’m going to keep on enjoying them while I can – it’s one of my few remaining passions after all…and I’m too old for sticker books.

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