Whenever someone tells me they are moving house one of the first questions I always ask is “So what’s your local going to be?” I’m generally more interested to hear about the pub than talk about what plans they might have to knock down walls or put a bedroom in the loft. Yawn off and tell me about the pub!
The other day when I was on a bastard replacement bus service we passed the White Swan in Bosham. The last time I saw it, it looked like this.
Whenever I see a boarded up pub it makes me sad. I’m a sentimental turd and I can’t help myself but think of the memories the old place would have; the laughter between mates; old regulars chatting at the bar; couples meeting on a first date; the sound of jackpot pound coins ejecting from the fruity. I feel sad for the building, even if I didn’t even ever get to know it, like it was an actual living thing. A pub is a bit like a living thing and the life inside it changes with the people who run it. A pub has a personality and character that shifts in time.
For the 15 years I’ve lived in Chichester I’ve had several locals. My first was The Hole In The Wall. It’s an old pub. There’s a stone in the pub “1742”. It amazes that if you were born in 1742, grew old and snuffed it at 80, 3 times the pub would still there, still serving pints. This pub has changed personality since I’ve been here. At lunchtime it used to be like an old peoples’ home serving up manky buffet lunches with smelly overcooked veg, now it’s more of a Sky sports and sambucca pub but still remains a good old reliable boozer.
For 5 years The Four Chesnuts was like my front room, I lived just across the road. I had so many good nights with great friends playing pool, darts and the quizzer, it was a really splendid time of my life. I returned for a pint this week and it was absolutely dead. It made me so sad. I don’t know if I was just being nostalgic, longing for happier times but part of me actually felt sad for the building. Like an old lady who used love dancing and is now struggling to walk.
Me and my ex-ex-ex girlfriend Claudia used to like to going to the Hogshead on South Street to play Hangman on the quiz machine, chasing the £20 top prize, we were gutted when it closed. Soon it re-opened as Trents and it is now one of the best places to go in Chichester. A generic student pub metamorphosed into the place that everyone goes to. The staff are always welcoming and friendly, great food, brilliantly managed. The only thing I don’t like about it is the hand dryer in the gents; it’s shit.
My local for the last 3 years has been the Park Tavern, looking over the beautiful Priory Park, I always yearned for it to be a good pub. For 10 years it was truly crap. I went in once with my mate James for a pint, the only sounds we could hear was a ticking clock and some old boy wheezing as he turned the page on his Telegraph. Jason & Jill arrived and resuscitated it back to life. The pub smiles again like it should. On August bank holiday Sunday I sat on the curb opposite with friends and took this pic of “Prince” George, the resident British bulldog waving from the window. I felt like I was in the best place in England.
I move into my new little scruffy house in Chichester on Monday and I’ll have a new local. If it’s a bit crap I’m lucky because in Chichester everything is 10 minutes away so it won’t stop me visiting these lovely and delicious pubs. If you visit Chichester you must visit one or all of them.
There’s a happy ending to my story. As I passed the White Swan on the bus I was surprised to see that it’s reopened. I’ve never been in it before but I hope it does well and lots of people have lots of happy times inside.