Village Inn, Liddington

There’s nothing more depressing in an English village than a pub closed for months. The edifice is sad, looms larger as months go by, competes with the grey church for emptiness. Locals recycle stories as if it’ll never open again.

It’s the last vestige of community after the shop and post office go. I’ve been to every pub in north Wiltshire as my running group starts and ends in a pub. We’re drinkers with a running problem. I like good conversation, whispers of scandal, who’s sleeping with whom, fodder for poems.  I care less for TV, loud music and horror of horrors, a bishop’s collar on a pint of Guinness.

The previous landlords cut off heating last winter. I live by the adage “a bird never flew on one wing” and thus enjoy a second pint. There were few second pints last year.

And into this misery came our new landlord, Adam Clay, who knows a thing or two. People are smiling again in the village, especially the regulars in the pub corner: Dave, Chris and Nobby. The heart is back in the village.

To Adam, I dedicate three verses of “A Working Man’s Friend” written by Brian O’Nolan, whom I knew in my youth.

When things go wrong and will not come right,

Though you do the best you can,

When life looks black as the hour of night –

A pint of plain is your only man.


When money’s tight and hard to get

And your horse has also ran,

When all you have is a heap of debt –

A pint of plain is your only man.


In time of trouble and lousy strife,

You still have got a darling plan,

You still can turn to a brighter life –

A pint of plain is your only man.


First published in Swindon Link

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