Even Flow

The problem with my pub visits is that they are all too often fleeting. A quick one after work. Two pints squeezed in towards the end of a country walk. Urban crawls that find me heading out the door almost as soon as I arrive. Sometimes, I make the time to spend more time in once place. And it pays dividends.

A long afternoon in the Sheffield Tap. Tickers pass through, holidaymakers hit the Bernard before the Manchester Airport train, football fans with their team shirts threatening to poke out of tightly-buttoned jackets. Rowdy student rendevous. A couple's last drinks dallied over, a whispered goodbye, a faint tear.

Lunchtime in the Harlequin, Sheffield, sees the office workers drift reluctantly back to desks. A woman in a too-tight skirt is reapplying her lippy, having left most of it on her glass. Three guys with Identi-kit pale blue shirts and sandy side partings are toying with the idea of another pint. Maybe just off the early shift, a man with the thousand yard stare takes up his rightful place at the bar and makes a pint of blonde last an hour.

Sun blazes in stripes across the beer garden of the Royal Oak, Ockbrook. Estate cars drop off knots of seniors who amble their way slowly to the front door. Tired parents suggest to their bored children that running off to the swings and back wil do them some good. Tweedy dog walkers, florescent ramblers and between-course smokers fill the trestles. As lunch ends, so estate cars clog the car park again; dogs pull on leads; boots are re-laced; one last drag can be had.

Up the pointy end of the Brunswick, Derby, there's just me in a Chesterfield. But I can see out into the corridor; groups stagger past on their way to the bar. A dozen forty-something blokes straight from a hotel after some sort of training day; too much cheap aftershave and office gossip. Some of the old boy regulars who've refreshed themselves by two pints more than their usual. Beards talk trains and enthuse about the pubs they'll be visiting later. A gaggle of carefully-dressed students look confused but are soon subsumed into the pints and banter by the dartboard.

There's something encouraging about the even flow of a pub's custom over a few hours. You get a feel for its community, whether that's regular or transient. You see character and anonimity. You get to meet people who are nothing like you yet are actually just like you in one vital respect - they too are lovers of the simple pleasure offered by a pint of beer in a good pub.

You want to see more Pearl Jam? Of course you do...


  1. brilliantly observed view of the river of folk that flows through our pubs…

  2. Good post scoop. I find myself people watching in most environments and it's fascinating stuff even when it's observing the mundane (even better with a beer in my hand though).

  3. Looking forward to your observational musings related to State Of Love And Trust ;)