YOU COULD SMOKE IN PUBS

Back in those days

you could smoke in the pubs,

we’d suck on those sticks to our finger tips

then casually, carelessly drop the stubs

and twist them into the floor with our feet,

openly, brazenly, never discreet.

The stench of burning carpet, the smell of spilt ale

would meet in a plume of noxious gas,

fetid, fusty and stale;

like a fart in a working man’s café.

A floating, sprawling toxic cloud,

everything above eye level comparably sound,

everything below pocked and burned out.

 

The gaffer put up a sign,

his message relayed:

“when the floor becomes full

please use the ashtrays”.

We took it as a joke

because, to us, it was,

so we just carried on

flooring those nubs.

Despite its tattiness

it was chock full of characters

with made up heroic tales

though that never mattered,

it was a sense of belonging

that dragged us all there

not just those stories,

the laughter and beer.

 

The old Paddy fella’s who stood at the bar

laughing about memories on whiskey’s and jars,

taking the piss out of all us young guns

with good Irish humour

and “You fucking English” puns.

O’Reilly, O’Leary and Kearns and all,

renditions of “Dear Old Donegal”.

And the once youthful biddies

who sat in the corner,

tales on how they met their loves

and now, oh God, how they mourn ‘em.
Passing their time playing whist and bridge

on gin with a tonic, well, maybe a smidge;

it was times like this that made them rich.

 

Spit and sawdust, salt of the earth,

antics and capers and unforced mirth,

and us, the young bucks with the rare mishap

never a battle, maybe just the odd scrap.

But brothers to brothers close knit and tight,

early door meets on a Friday night.

Then we became older and drifted away,

the floor became full, likewise the ashtrays.

Some of us settled into new walks of life

discovering new prospects maybe finding a wife,

but sometimes we’d meet up,

see the odd familiar face,

toast the ghosts of the old ‘uns

who frequented the place.

 

Back in those days

you could smoke in the pubs,

drift from the lounge to the bar to the snug,

guided by black eye burn hole trails

with a ciggie in hand, supping the ale.

The pub is now gone, long taken down,

American diners changing the town,

so too that pre-cremated carpet;

what once was a pub, now a supermarket.

But the Paddy’s, the biddies and all the frequenters

who drank in that pub through springs until winters

leave memories to memories of times never lost

from back in the days

you could smoke in the pubs.

#pubs #smoking #smokingban #nostalgia

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MOTHER OF A COLUMBINE MURDERER ►

Comments

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Marc Hawkins

Thu 15th Feb 2018 17:31

Thank you, David. It's a shame that along with the demise of the trad pub so too there is a shortage of pub characters...a dying breed

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Wolfgar Miere

Tue 13th Feb 2018 06:08

Hello Marc,

really enjoyed this piece, some good memories and some not so. Sticky carpets and the stench of tabac, I miss neither but I do miss the traditional pub. There are a few around but most have been eaten up by restaurant area's or the Great Satan, "Wetherspoon"

Like Church the pub community has been stripped away, people migrating to on-line isolation and supermarket booze, pretty sad really.

The internal rhythm of the piece kicks in once the reader gets into full flow.

David.

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Marc Hawkins

Tue 13th Feb 2018 01:41

Hi guys, sorry, I've only just seen your comments. I'm that new to this I don't even know how to spot if I have messages in lol.
There certainly aren't many pubs left like the one above.
But it's just a really weird memory when I think about stubbing fags out on pub carpets?? Almost like I dreamt I did it rather than actually doing it 😀

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Mon 12th Feb 2018 12:22

Deceptively clever. I enjoyed the internal rhyme and construction - even the subject!
Your words remind me of pubs in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Leeds when I was a young nurse at HGH.

Tony Hill

Mon 12th Feb 2018 11:05

Really enjoyed this evocative piece, Marc. I grew up in the north east of England so the world of smoke-filled pubs and working men's clubs is one I'm familiar with. Tony

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Brian Maryon

Mon 12th Feb 2018 08:47

I loved 'em Marc but wouldn't turn the clock back. But I wish there were more pubs rather than gastropubs.

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