I have always liked the small back bar of The Angel Hotel in Halesworth. I'm by no means a frequent visitor, but if I am ever in the town, and have a chance, I like to look in and have a pint or two of Adnams. Of course, in recent months this has been impossible, but with lockdown measures easing and my wife being called to Halesworth for a work appointment I thought I'd take advantage of the situation.
I meekly entered the premises, and enquired shyly of the gentleman who loomed in my path whether it was possible to enter the bar and partake of a beverage?
"Make sure your face is covered, follow me....sit there!" he barked. Not the welcome I had perhaps expected after so many months of exile for me and lack of business for them, but then perhaps it was nicer and quieter for him when he didn't have customers ruining his day?
Of course, he had done no wrong. He had merely instructed me correctly in the new rules of engagement when entering licensed premises, but do these new rules also forbid the use of the customary greetings and pleasantries?
The back bar was empty except for one other person, so I could probably have sat anywhere, but I thought it best not to upset the boss, so there I sat. The pint of Adnams was delicious, and I might have stayed for another, but I did not wish to outstay my welcome. Although I think I'd already done that by entering.
I did notice the officious barkeep conversing in a friendly manner to other customers who entered the bar a bit after me, so I can only assume that this period of lockdown has produced in him some kind of intolerance to those that are maybe not local or regulars, but I fear for a business such as a pub or hotel bar that cannot be a bit more friendly to its unknown customers.
Or he might just have been having a bad day.
Or I might have looked like a troublemaker.
I will look in again. It's a marvellous spot to enjoy a quiet pint, or to converse with the regulars who all seemed very friendly.
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