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A Bit of Aprés Pêche

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We pack up in the rain and get to the pub about seven o’clock. Pulling into the car park I nearly run over two small boys dressed in Manchester United tops who appear from behind a white van; they are shouted at by a large fella in an England shirt, holding a pint of lager. We’re bucking the trend and going downmarket this year. Our usual haunt was fully booked after a predicted change of ownership so we are staying at The Anchor just up the road. As we enter the pub we are greeted by the landlord in an unusually friendly way:
“F*****g fisherman are here!” he bellows around the bar.
“Look like f*****g burglars!” barks someone else.
The whole room is heaving with great circles of career drinkers, laughing and shouting and generally behaving as if they’re celebrating early release from the local loony bin.
We are ushered upstairs to our rooms. Half way up the stairs the landlord bawls:
“Can ya just use t’single beds, lads?” just loud enough for the whole of Boroughbridge to hear.

My room is large. One single bed, one double; a big old fashioned telly; a 1930s tiled hearth with one tile missing, and wallpaper hanging from the ceiling! It’s really shabby but somehow I feel quite comfortable. I have a quick shower and meet back downstairs for 7.20pm; I’m bang on time but find myself playing catch up. I’m nearly a pint behind the other two already! Micky and Glen are chatting at the bar with the landlord and Dennis who we met propping the bar up three years ago at our previous digs. He hasn’t changed a bit, apart from the crutches; he’s loud, opinionated and bigoted. His swearing makes Glen seem like a saint, every phrase heavily seasoned with the F word. He is even breaking words up to insert the F word:
“If I have to bloody ex-f*****g-plain once more!” he splutters to some poor soul.
After a full recap of Dennis’s life and a couple more pints we head off to the Shahi-Raj Indian Restaurant for an uneventful curry and a couple of Cobras. But not before an interesting development; the landlord, Stu, is trying to persuade us not to have breakfast. This is a strange strategy, we’ve stayed in lots of establishments but this is the first time someone has tried to talk us out of breakfast. I wonder whether he’s trying to make out that breakfast is ‘extra’ like in posh London hotels? Or is he just bone idle and doesn’t fancy getting up early with the probable hangover he is going to have?

Following dinner we walk back towards our pub past ‘The Musketeer’ which is closed! The next pub is ‘The Three Horseshoes’ where we had our ‘Western Saloon’ experience a couple of years ago, still it’s only 10.00pm so we go in to find that the party from The Anchor has moved in! They’ve obviously come here for the happy hour promotion where the first ten drinks are free.
“Ey Up! It’s t’f*****g anglers!” roars Stu, the landlord from our pub “It’s t’flamin’ fishermen who want me to do breakfast for ‘em at 11 in t’mornin’” he adds. We laugh off this comment and head for the bar where Jim, of Fish’N’Things, is sat drinking what looks like his fifth or sixth pint. We get into a deep discussion about his new 30’ boat and his expensive American Fish –Finder.

In a lull in the conversation Micky leans over and says:
“I bet you kept that swivel, didn’t you?” I grin sheepishly.
“Too right, Mick!” but I know he’s highlighted another personality defect. I’m always on the lookout for lost bits of tackle; floats, bank sticks, bits of shot. I don’t know why because they’re nearly always broken or unusable but I can’t help it, my tackle box is full of the rubbish!

Over the course of the evening a curious thing happens. When we came in Clare, the barmaid, didn’t look anything special at all, but now it’s half last ten and she’s starting to look quite foxy: I’m being beguiled by her sultry looks and enigmatic smile. I tell myself not to be so stupid and order another round of drinks.

Stu is continuing to harangue us about breakfast as the evening develops into a crazy session. Two or three pints later I make my way to the toilets which are outside; down a step; along a ginnel and up a step then into beautiful urinals with exquisite Victorian glazing, wonderful, they really ought to be Grade II listed.

It’s very nearly closing time and I’m almost ready to ask Clare to marry me when I remember I’m married already! We make our way back to the Anchor at about half eleven. There is a small group of dedicated drinkers diligently observing the licensing laws, with Stu on the fringe. He finally persuades us that we’d be better off finding breakfast somewhere else; he’ll even knock something off the bill or give us a free dessert if we have dinner here tomorrow night. It’s ten to midnight, just time for another, but I can’t manage any more beer, I’ll have a whisky. Stu is at the optic:
“Do you want a double for an extra quid?” he asks. A voice from somewhere in the room says “It’d be rude not to.”
“*******! Who the hell said that?” I think to myself, as I scan the room for the culprit, it slowly dawns on me that it was me.

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  1. Rickrod's Avatar
    The anchor is that the one next to the bridge
  2. Skoda's Avatar
    There are four pubs near the bridge, The Anchor is about 50 or 60 yds north west, past the Grantham Arms on the roundabout.