Monday 22 August 2016

Eddie Inchley 2

Ed was an accomplished gardener and grew vegetables which, almost certainly, would have been in the prizes of the local shows. His back garden was long and slender and his vegetables were grown on beds which he had created over the years. These beds were about six feet wide but built up. So much so that they looked rather like a series of very large graves. Modern gardeners would recognise them as a deep bed system, which, being narrow enough to get at from either side, never needs the gardener to walk upon them. The idea being the ground is never compacted, drainage is good,and plant roots have a light and airy soil in which to grow and expand. I doubt very much if Ed had any idea of all this, his beds had evolved from years of dumping compost on top of them and occasional layers of farmyard manure. But his way worked and his superb vegetables were more than proof of that.

A few years before Ed died the village pub was sold and the landlord whom had looked after Ed for many years moved on. The new owners had rather different ideas as to what a pub should be like. To them the pub should resemble a poncey sort of cross between a posh restaurant and a coffee bar. In order to achieve their vision they had major re-decoration plans in mind and the pub was closed for several weeks whilst these works were undertaken. Ed, much to his displeasure, spent this time being transported to another pub a few miles away by any kind hearted soul that was prepared to oblige him. The refit complete, the newly re-furbished pub was opened to great ceremony. The changes within its walls were, to the locals, horrendous. The old inglenook had been replaced with a stone aberration which would have looked more in place in a church. Large garish paintings, of an abstract nature, adorned the walls and leather poufs had replaced chairs. Large sofas and coffee tables completed the ghastly vision as one entered the premises. But there was more bad news to come, upon arrival at the bar, it was quickly discovered that the bar stools and chairs had gone. There was, drinkers were told, to be no more drinking at the bar. Of course this news went down like a lead balloon with most locals but for Ed it was inconceivable, he had spent most of his life sitting next to the bar. The new owner would not be moved, no drinking at the bar meant just that there would be no exception made for Ed or anyone else. Ed spent the next few months moaning and his only topic of conversation was the terrible slight he had suffered at the hands of the new landlord whom, he told all and sundry, was quite unfit to run anything, not least a village pub. It quickly became apparent that most of the customers that had previously patronised the pub appeared to share Ed’s point of view. They voted with their feet and took their trade to another local establishment. The new owners, no doubt, quickly got the message that an empty pub makes no money. After a short while a team of young managers were put in and things quickly normalised. Drinking at the bar was re-established and other unpalatable and, to most people, stupid rules were consigned to the bin. Ed once more became a reasonably happy chap, his place at the bar re-established, he found the new managers to be his sort of people. 

There are numerous tales of Ed that exist but, of course, they are far too numerous to be listed here. However, a couple of them might cause the reader a chuckle and are worthy of record. Although the pub returned, pretty much, to its former feel the restaurant did not. It was now a fine dining establishment serviced by an accomplished chef and aimed at upmarket diners with rather large pockets. With the exception of bar snacks, pub grub, was well and truly off the menu. What all this meant was the type of clients changed and the past diners were, for the most part, replaced with, what in these parts, are known as hoorays and ya ya’s. In other words the posho’s, many travelling down from London at weekends and staying in the very expensive rooms on offer above the bar . Also, as a result of an advertising campaign in a couple of smart country magazines, there were an increasing number of foreign clients. Many of these good folk found Ed an irresistible attraction and would quiz him on all matters local. This went down quite well with Ed as he managed to extract plenty of beer in the process. However, there was one notable occasion when having finished dining, a gentleman of quality approached Ed and, as is their want, in a voice calculated to ensure the whole pub would hear stated, "I hear you have been drinking here all of your life", Ed looked at said gent for a moment and replied, "no not yet I haven’t". Gob smacked the gent mumbled something about, "well quite" and, to the general amusement of all present, quickly took his leave. 

Another occasion worthy of mention occurred when Ed was reclining at home in his front room and gazing out of the window, as he did for long periods of time, he spotted a police car pull up opposite his gateway. Observing an officer getting out of the car and heading toward his gate Ed leapt from his seat, rushed to the back room, grabbed his television set and chucked it out, as far as he was able, down the back garden. Regaining his composure, Ed returned to the front door and answered it. The police officer simply made an enquiry regarding an address he was having difficulty locating. He departed and Ed returned to recover his, now, useless television set. That evening the story all came out in the pub. Ed had no T.V. licence and had, wrongly, assumed he had been reported to the police for this offence. It didn’t take long for someone in the village to provide Ed with another set but for many a moon there after poor old Ed was teased as to his visit from the law. Now gone to the great big pub in the sky Ed is missed and, I think, the village a little poorer for his passing.