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Recently I was stood outside Huddersfield Railway Station waiting for my Replacement Bus Service. I was eating much needed food from a nearby fast food outlet and contemplating my next move. Other match-goers had gone home but I had over 50 minutes to wait for my bus. We’d already been to a few of our post-match regular spots and so I was contemplating somewhere new or different to pass the time now.


I stood in St George’s Square, behind the statue of Harold Wilson, and pondered where I should waste my next hour. And pondered and pondered. After deliberation that ate into much of my allotted time, I walked down to the familiar setting of The Sportsman, realising that there wasn’t anywhere different to go at all.


But whilst I deliberated, I cast my eye over the currently scaffold-covered George hotel opposite the station; a place I had been in once with my Dad. It’s downstairs public bar had stood as a firm and available option to match-goers for years, and yet I’d only entered once around 14 years ago.


And it made me realise, as a I skulked over to the familiar Sportsman setting, that the wonderment of pubs was decreasing by the day.




Pubs were once an unexplored infinity. There were no limitations to the endless possibilities to seek out. Not knowing what every pub was like was once part of the charm. Not having the answers only grew the anticipation. Pubs were exciting because they remained unexplored.


What's it like inside? What beer does it serve? Is it busy? What kind of people go in? Would I be welcome? Unanswered questions, but an infinity in which to answer those questions. If we don’t try it today then there’s always next time.


Suddenly infinity isn’t infinite. 


People will balk at this. Users of the phrase "Use 'em or lose 'em" will laugh at the idiosliation of businesses that I've never put a penny towards. At least one person will be ready to say "Look at this fool - thinking that businesses can survive on "the idea" and fantasy of a place." That is the modern Internet. 


They're not wrong though. 


I have no right to complain about pub closures of local places that I never supported myself.


But I want them to be there; comforting reminders of my idyllic vision of the world, where Taverns and Inns remain supreme; where every soap opera or drama still has a central pub setting because they remain the central point of all communities.


I also love the idea of them coming good. "If somebody with a bit of experience got hold of that place it *could* be brilliant." I say it all the time. I say it about dozens of establishments. These phantom rich public house owners strangely never materialise in this fantasy world.  


Instead, the pubs are gone before I can even imagine their potential. They are converted into three houses before I've even had chance to ask my accountant if it could become reality.


That is the reality. 




When I moved to the area I now live in I walked by the two closest pubs a couple of times, wondering when I'd go in and see if I'd find a new established local.


Within the year - and before I'd ever made it over the threshold - they'd gone. Redeveloped. Never to be a public house again. After over a century of serving beer, they were gone within the 12 months that I was aware that they had existed. And I'll never know them. I've no opinion of them. I've no stories to tell. “There used to be a pub here.” “Oh, what was it like?” …. And I don’t have an answer.  


It makes no sense to be sad, but this is what it feels like when celebrities die. There was no effect on my day to day life when Prodigy of Mobb Deep or Terry Pratchett died - but I'll still be joining the social media masses in mourning. We are allowed to be sad at all losses. 


Equally I miss those moments with my Dad, when he excitedly led me to the George Hotel bar so he could introduce me to somewhere new. Whether it was good or bad – it was a first. Those moments were precious.




The pub was a bigger landscape that stretched beyond every horizon. Now it feels like the last days of a zombie film, where only the main protagonists linger on. The characters that weren't important at the start have long gone. But, beyond fiction, they were important, despite what James May says. 


I'll still spend time daydreaming about pubs that I may never step foot in.  The answer would be to use my time to explore those remaining places before they are lost. But, as I stand outside Huddersfield station contemplating my next move, I realise that the world is full of fewer dreams now. There is no room in 2024 Britian to speculate or ponder.   


I guess that they were right - Use it or lose it. This new world doesn’t allow room for wonderment. Pubs are not an infinite number anymore, but what does remain is my sentimentality to the unknown.


There are rumours that the George Hotel is set to return with a new downstairs bar area. If this is true then I can’t wait to try it – once.


Great piece of writing. Hits home. I just don't see a way back to yesteryear. My formative years were the early 80's. The past really is a different country. Catch 'em whilst you can.

Cheers! Andy

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