As I walked through the door of the unassuming public house, I was met with a bellow of appreciation, not for me but the group I was with. We were the third minibus to arrive and the room was busy already and had an air of giddy joy with the blackboards heavy with choice. I’ve been in reflective mood since taking the weekend as my own, attending a beery conference and between the busy schedule I had chance to think. I usually use my fifteen minute walk to work for this purpose, head in the clouds, eyes on my shoes, only looking up to check before I cross the road. Not every morning is productive, but the journey presents an opportunity to scan a few ideas that came to me in my sleep, or that I observe in the fleeting seconds I take to look left, right and left again. I was present with the people I was with in the pub yesterday, but I couldn’t help but picture the scene before minibuses 1,2 and 3 rocked up. I looked around the room and could see who had been standing guard at the bar before we advanced. Two guys who were clearly brothers, and I think three other chaps who were minding their own business and had been enjoying their space.
Business must be pretty steady at The Grove, the taps welcome new visitors on a regular basis and the chalk used to write the menus is broken and worn. I couldn’t help feel sorry for the ‘regulars’ as they nursed their pints, suddenly party to loud conversations with only their proximity to blame. They know the score though and stand their ground, safe in the knowledge that the crowds will disperse, leaving bottles dusty from their stint in the cellar, paddles that held strong thirds of non-sessionable beer, and glasses left half full of a cucumber beer that had been enthusiastically mixed with gin.
Sat on the train back to Saltaire, I returned to my own thoughts, but couldn’t help take one last glance at the serenity we left. Glasses refreshed, books reopened, newspapers plumped and order restored.