As some disappear, more new ones arise.
Cobbett Rides Again. I know just what Peter Porcupine - unusual name, that - means about the slow death of rural England.
There are also new (excretive) executive housing estates. You rarely see the inhabitants of the latter. Most of those that dwell in them disappear out of the villages every morning. Their children are dumped at a nursery and the parents leave for the twenty mile drive to one of the surrounding towns, in their never-more-than-two-years-old German cars and 4WDs. One flustered parent will later arrive at the nursery, usually late, to retrieve the abandoned infants.
And each village has a pub.
One, run by an ex-car salesman, caters for the executive home dweller. Anxious to establish the right, rural ambience, everything has been tarted to ape the olde worlde style established by the theme pub designer. The bars, save for a small “cocktail” bar, have been swept away to provide space for the diners. For two or three hours it gives the appearance of popularity, as the steak-eaters arrive in their groups of four or six. One drink is sipped while studying the menu before they are processed through the dining room and back out to the car park. By ten it is generally deserted. The locals never visit.
The other village also has a pub. It belongs to a local brewery and the landlord used to run one of the village stores before it had to close. It is neither self-consciously old nor pretentiously new. It just arrived as it is now by adapting to the needs of customers over the years. There is only one bar. From October to April, a large log fire burns in an open grate every night. If you want to eat anything but crisps or nuts you'll be unlucky. There's a television which shows cricket in the summer and football in the winter, but always with the sound off.
And every night it is packed. It hums with conversation. Departures are accompanied by a chorus of “good nights” whether the person is known or not. Strangers talk to each other.There are old folk and young lovers. Dogs loll on the floor, carefully stepped around as customers journey to the bar and back.
The Tin Drummer - a son of Glarstershire ('There are now two, distinct Cheltenhams: one is very nice and is mainly offices and flats; the other is huge, sprawling, ugly and is where people actually have to live and shop.') - likes cricket and XTC ('and all the world is football-shaped, it's just for me to kick in space' - easily my favourite of theirs). Occasional swearing - needs to stop reading the Devil.
Both rightish of centre.
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