Mud On the Road

we're about to go shopping in Salisbury...

Fantasy Pub Landlady

      Shedley and I are feeling a bit rueful because,  according to the estate agent's sign, The Vine pub on Stockbridge High St. is, at last,  under offer.
As pink as you like; click for bigger picture
In the pink!

       We're a bit disappointed because, periodically, since it's been up for sale we've enjoyed playing the fantasy pub game, namely the, 'What-If-We-Owned-The-Vine game.'

     The Vine has been on the market for well over a year. It's a large pub with a big stretch of untidy parking and garden at the back. It expands across at least three floors with several B & B rooms upstairs, fairly buckshee in appearance the last time I looked at them which was in 2009. The building is higgledy-piggledy – there may well be a fourth floor and no doubt there is a cellar.

     It has occupied its central position for centuries rather than decades and its closure, whilst doubtless a boost to the other Stockbridge pubs - The White Hart, The Grosvenor, The Three Cups and The Greyhound on the Test – has left a big hole in the High St. and something of an eyesore.

     There's little doubt in our minds that if we bought The Vine it would become the most celebrated pub in the land with people journeying from as far away as South Georgia to come and 'sample its warm hospitality' – which is what publicans always want you to do.

      I should emphasise here that this is pure fantasy.

     We can't afford to buy The Vine. We don't want to buy the Vine. This is a Let's Pretend, like those bizarre Fantasy Football games the Younger Brothers, Roadrunner and Can-Do, play in the newspapers: games in which they actually imagine they own entire football teams and buy and sell international football players and imagine them scoring and winning  in virtual, completely fictitious football games...I think this is odd behaviour.

     Indeed, compared to Fantasy football, the Fantasy Pub Landlord and Fantasy Pub Landlady game seems quite rational and sane.
     I do have to remind Shedley, quite often when we're playing it, that it is only a game. I say this frequently during the game because I've noticed a certain green light which switches on in his eyes as he moves from the imagining stage of the game, forgets that we have not recently won the lottery and begins to seriously entertain the possibility that this could all work out rather well and come true.

      The Green Light switches on about the time in  the game when we've begun considering the fixtures and fittings for the gorgeous Mr & Mrs Smith boutique-style hotel rooms we're designing or planning the plain and simple but oh-so delicious menus.
     Shedley, I know, would relish the opportunity to awaken and give full expression to his inner Pub Landlord.

     Simply contemplating the possibilities opens up a happy vista for Shedley of stock takes and menu planning and staff management and profit and loss accounts and book balancing. These thoughts bring his latent Richard Branson to the surface. Shedley thinks these kind of activities are fun.

     As a matter of fact Shedley would be a very good pub landlord. He likes getting up extremely early and he has acres of tolerance which you need given the requirement of every pub to have its own pet pub bore.
     I can see him sitting at the corner of the 'quiet' bar  overseeing our patrons. He'd be in lounge lizard mode which involves a pair of rather natty shoes, suede I think, and a degree of lounging.

    So, I have to remind Shedley in case he seriously believes I might actually want to get up at dawn,  work all day and work all night, never be able to go to any other pub and end up either living on lime and soda which would make your teeth fall out or worse, drinking beer and getting fat.... still worse, being forced to be nice not only to our pet pub bore but also to those sort of leery Green Ink types, who I seem to attract. They like to collar me at the bar and want to impress their lunatic fringe or just plain deranged opinions upon me very loudly, and try and lure me into some kind of a discussion.

     Yes I am forced to be party pooper and remind Shedley that it is just a game.

      Because I must admit that when we're playing What-If-We-Owned-The-Vine, I too feel a frisson of excitement. I too get a shiver down my spine, a glimmer of green. And it’s not the reflection of  grass on the other side of the fence. Nor the colour of notes piled high in a bank.

     It’s the peering down a road not taken, the opening up of other possible lives and selves; the contemplation of dreams yet to be fulfilled.
      I think it’s that condition they call middle-age.

     I can actually picture myself lining up the hits on the old fashioned juke box we've shipped from America and installed in the juke box in The Back Room at The Vine.
      The Back Room, I should explain, is the room we've agreed will be my domain. While Shedley is King at Front of House I will be queen of a sort of mini-events venue at the back. With possibly the best juke box in  the world.

     Because a pub at its best is really a kind of theatre.

     And in our theatre I will host marvellous events in The Back Room, tickets for which will sell out months in advance.

     There will be guest speakers. David Sedaris will be a regular. There will be tiny private gigs featuring the likes of  Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and The Waterboys and Kings of Leon and Blondie and Abba...

     It's very likely I will become renowned for discovering and launching new bands and musicians and writers. There will be stand-up comedy and at least two evenings a week will involve dancing. There will be write-ups and glowing reviews in the national press and invites and free tickets to everything and Shedley will have to make an appearance on the sofa at The One Show and I will be asked onto Desert Island Discs....

     But  The Vine is under offer. Someone else must transform it into the new best pub in the universe.

We've put all that behind us now. We're playing a new game. It involves a  a man called Kevin and the best and simultaneously cheapest plot of land in the South of England. Oh yes and a very, very Grand Design...



Well worth the wait;
Only two flower heads but magnificent and worth waiting for.
Fabulously, gloriously, PINK!
Bloomin' June

Because the Woods Are Scary
Surrey Hills
But, I Am Not A Mote
Eggs, by Floyd
The Good Workman 
Poppies, Cowdrove Hill
Time Please! 

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