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  • Writer's pictureJonathan.Crabtree

Pub on a Hill

The last week in March taunted us all with the preceding days filled with blue skies, sunshine, blooming daffodils and dogwoods, and of course warmer temperatures. The difference in almost everyone’s mood was noticeable and equally matched with the hopeful elements observed by all of the five senses in that week. Suddenly there was hope, and everyone knew it.


The dominating mood was no different in the pubs, either. The flowing ale couldn’t quench the thirst of the hopeful. Funny thing about hope, it seems the little bit we get, the more we want. But with faith we forget as soon as its happened. Maybe it’s more hope we want but it’s love we get. At the pub, we’re all thirsty for either more hope or more faith, and what we actually get is love. With this last week of March, that was exactly the mood in everyone.


My first shift as a barman began at half past seven on that Friday evening. I had been drinking ale there for several months now and getting to know the locals. But that night, I was no longer a patron, I was a barman. After wishing my wife and children a good night, I made my way towards the pub. Taking the public foot path uphill and through a public garden overwhelmed withsleeping British daffodils and with the Westbury-on-Trym parish church to my left, I looked at the “pub on the hill,” as some call it. I suppose it is a “city on a hill” for many, as it shines into the late evenings. The Mouse was a lighthouse for me and my family, and now it was time to return the favor.


It’s a small pub, just like the name implies, “The Mouse,” and that makes it feel like an extended dining room. On any given occasion, I can see someone across the pub and still feel like I could chat with them without making it look awkward. Walking through two thresholds, you’re usually greeted by one of the publicans. They’ve owned the pub for over 20 years now, and they’ve raised their family, and others who made the Mouse their “Never-Land.” Yes, for those who never wanted to grow up, but had too, as we all do, always seemed to follow the second star to the right that led them to the Mouse.


The bar is center stage, as it is in most pubs, with about eight stools. Along the front of the pub you’ll find two bay window seating that can seat about six adults comfortably, or about twelve adults committed to cheering for their favorite rugby team. In the main floor there are smaller tables, maybe a meter in diameter, with room for a multitude to gather around. Directly in front of the bar you’ll find the weekday gathering of the locals. You know, the old timers that come in the same time every day and solve the worlds problems, one pint at a time. For months now, I’ve tried to casually find my place at the collection of these little tables where the patriarchs gather, and have not been successful. They’ve been polite, but these tables are obviously “reserved.” It’s a very sacred seating arrangement, and for the Englishman, routine and consistency is key to thriving.


But that night, on my first shift, when the hope of Spring’s arrival had inspired us all, I was about to experience love like never before.



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