I’m sure it’s a massive cliché to spend five minutes in the country and want to take over and transform the local pub, but fuck me, I want to take over and transform the local pub. I can barely pass it without mentally ripping out the claggy carpets and binning the Constable placemats.
Every so often there’ll be a piece in the newspaper about how country pubs are closing at a rate of knots and I’ll think how sad that is. Then I’ll go to one, and inevitably it’ll be some gloomy cave serving flabby quiches with crisp garnishes, the toilets cold and reeking of a combination of piss and urinal cakes. The soft drinks will consist of some ancient bottles of Britvic, while the (bad) wine list will be painted onto one of those fake chalkboard signs (Why? Because real chalkboard is too much of a shag?)
I know the countryside has many lovely pubs, but they seem to be the exceptions, and even the ponced-up ones are decorated with an almost total lack of imagination, as if someone’s told them that if they Farrow & Ball every surface and install a couple of roll-top baths upstairs they’ll be a five-star boutique hotel.
It’s such a shame. Everyone has a picture in their heads of their ideal country pub, and invariably it involves the same thing: roaring fires, cosy atmosphere, hearty but well-cooked food. But it’s amazing how few landlords bother to indulge those fantasies. Surely it can’t be that hard?