Monday, 5 October 2009

Not Keeping up Appearances

It's early afternoon on Monday and I'm in the village of Caersws in mid-Wales, waiting for a bus to Llandidloes where I'm due to collect a car from a dealership.

I'm passing the time trying to guess whether the pub opposite me, The Buck Hotel, has closed down. There are no metal shutters on the windows but in general it looks as though nobody has paid it much attention for some time. The paint is peeling badly from the black window frames. Running just below the roof there is string of small decorative red and blue lights, looking suspiciously like they may have been there since last Christmas. On the ground at the front a long trough contains a flowerbed which has long since turned feral - a mass of unidentifiable plants and weeds tumbling over the edges. In the midst of the unruly crowd a single small red flower stands out.

A white Somerfield carrier bag, blowing by on the wind, flattens itself against the plants at the end of the flowerbed but does not succeed in making the place look noticeably more run down. It lingers for a few moments and then darts away again, as if it has spotted somewhere where it has more chance of making a difference.

Between the front doors and the pavement there are a couple of wooden tables of the variety that have the bench seats built onto them. The fact that these tables are not bolted to the ground, and are still here, finally makes me decide that the place must still be in business

It would be easy to write some disparaging conclusions about The Buck, or to make a big poignant deal out of the solitary red flower. But the truth is I don't mind places like this, where appearances are clearly not a priority, provided there is no air of menace to the dilapidation.

I would always rather be somewhere untidy than somewhere which is just too neat. If nothing is out of place then you are the thing that is out of place.

All I would change about the pub would be to add a sign in the window to let people know that they had not gone bust, something along the lines of -

'Yes, we are still open, we're just not that bothered.'

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