Sunday, 1 August 2010

The End of The Fleece


It seems that The Fleece in Cullingworth will soon be no more. Another pub joining the thousands that have closed over recent years. Another piece of choice, variety and social capital torn out of the heart of the village and replaced by we’re not sure although those investigating come back with words like ‘day centre’ which might be a little worrying. I’m sure all will be revealed and I hope they get 350 grand’s worth of value from ending a pub’s life.

I found out all this while propping up the bar in the Conservative Club – and institution that continues to thrive (at least for the time being). And the discussion turned – as it always does – to the reasons why the Fleece closed.

Target number one is of course “the brewery” – this is despite the fact that nothing remotely resembling a brewery had anything to do with the management of said public house. So that gets set aside to be replaced with “supermarkets and cheap drink” – people aren’t going to the pub any more because they can drink at home. But drink has always been cheaper at the off-license and the price of beer has, since the beginning of time I suspect, been a mainstay of public bar conversation and dispute.

By this point – and with alcohol consumption rising – the conversation has sidetrack into reminiscences about past landlords, events and occasions at the Fleece. Things that future generations won’t have the pleasure of recalling. And then somebody asks about John. Why doesn’t he come out to the pub (or club in this case) any more?

Various suggestions are made – how he fell out with someone, that his missus stopped him, even (heaven forfend) that he stopped drinking! None of these are right of course – John doesn’t fall out with people, his missus likes a drink or seven (despite working for the NHS – or maybe because of that) and he’s still drinking. No he doesn’t come out because he can’t smoke anymore at the pub. So he opens his garage doors, sets up a dart board and some garden chairs and stays in where he can drink and smoke at his leisure.

Tens of thousands of people like John have stopped going to the pub because they don’t want to be treated like lepers for wanting a fag with their pint. And that’s why The Fleece is closing – its old customers are stopping at home.



Pam Nash said...

I've been know to have the odd cig and it's a real turn off not being able to have one with a drink in the pub. The summer isn't so bad, a lot of pubs have put covered areas outside so that even if it's raining it isn't a problem, as it's reasonably warm (mostly!), but the winter is a nightmare. What IS fascinating is that friends congregate together, smokers and non, in the smoking area - suggesting that it isn't Joe Public that has a problem with smokers.

Why pubs weren't just required to have a room set aside with good air filtration, for smoking, is a mystery. Unless it was tacitly recognised that any room would never be big enough for the smokers and all their mates?

A prime example of the Nanny State at it's most officious. Lunacy - the losers are, as you say, the pubs themselves. But will the current Govt. ever have the steel to reverse it? Sadly, I suspect not.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the Fleece. Just about to spend a few days in Cullingworth too!

As someone who was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer 10 months ago and a life-long non-smoker, aged 46, I am less sympathetic to smokers as nine out of 10 people with lung cancer are or have been smokers.

However, smoking is all about personal choice and people should be able to do what they like in their own personal space. A room set aside for smokers in a pub is certainly preferable to allowing people to smoke in a pub garden, where the smoke always seems to waft my way.

Martin Bentley said...

The Fleece is going to be back open soon. The new landlady Denise Keay and her husband moved in last Friday 3rd September, they are doing a refurb, and hope to be open by the end of September. It's on a freehold so the drinks should be a bit cheaper