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11-10-2011, 19:40
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It used to be a staple anecdote about pubs that you’d wander into an unfamiliar pub and plonk yourself down in a cosy seat only to be told “Sorry mate, you can’t sit there, that’s old Bob’s seat, and he’ll be in in a few minutes!”

It’s probably less likely nowadays, as there are fewer regulars who are in pubs most nights of the week, and despite our ageing population it also seems less common to see groups of pensioners gathered in pubs. But, as with many things, you imperceptibly find what you once dismissed as the habits of the elderly creeping up on you. It’s certainly the case that life tends to settle into more of a routine.

I can’t say that there’s any pub I visit often enough to call myself a “regular”, but there are maybe five or six that, for various reasons, I find myself calling in at least once a month. And, if I think about it, assuming that spot’s available, I always sit in the same place. It’s not the the end of the world if it’s taken, and in most of them there’s somewhere else that’s almost as good, but it’s interesting how these things turn into a regular pattern of behaviour.

I also recall that, in his last years, I would often take my late father in one particular pub where he found the atmosphere congenial. And yes, it was what some would call a “dumpy old men’s pub”, and all the better for it. We would always sit in the same corner and if, for some reason, it wasn’t available he would be a touch discomfited.

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