I am old enough to remember when pubs were virtually the only place you wanted to be with your friends on a Friday and Saturday night.
Back in the seventies there were three basic forms of leisure and entertainment ( other than the three channels on television-BBC1, BBC2 and ITV). You could go out for a meal, go to the cinema or go to the pub.
I grew up in the south east suburb of Handsworth in Sheffield and like all teenagers, started a little earlier than the law states when it comes to drinking beer in a public house! My mum was testament to the Friday nights when I would roll in just before midnight struggling to stay still from inebriation having consumed around five pints of Skol and five barley wines. Not exactly a binge culture or even a great deal by today’s standards but enough to give me a grin as big as the Joker in Batman, well at least until I awoke the next morning! The Norfolk at Handsworth was my local. It is now a children’s nursery.
The fashion back in the 70’s and 80’s was to spend the evening in your local on a Friday night and ‘do the rounds’ on a Saturday night with your friends or partner, having a couple of drinks in almost every pub on your patch. To me that resulted in visiting at least five of the eight pubs that were around then, though the Angler’s Rest on Richmond Park Road was really within Richmond and not Handsworth, despite its proximity. Depending on which part of Handsworth you lived in you might venture into the Everest on the Ballifield Estate or The White Rose on The Triangle. No trouble or at least very, very rarely. If someone spilt your beer by inadvertently bumping into you, they would offer to buy you another drink after apologising profusely and then spending five minutes chatting about everything and nothing. Happy days!
Weekends in Handsworth, probably like many areas in Sheffield back then involved having a good time, with a few drinks and a few friends. The night would be finished off with fish and chips in newspaper whilst walking home.The print added extra flavour to be fair! With most of the pubs having at least two or three bar areas you could act swanky and pose with your wife or girlfriend in the lounge bar (exhibiting the most recent decoration of flock wallpaper and best carpet), play a relaxed game of of darts with your mates in the public bar (no carpet and full of cigarette smoke!) or take a risk and play a game of fives and threes in the Tap Room with the over 70’s. The risk was that despite their advancing years they seemed to have the sharpest of minds when it came to playing dominoes for money! Young lads of 18 -20 years were their favourite target. Many a night resulted in me being fleeced of a few quid. It’s amazing how practised some septuagenarians are in the art of offering insincere apologies following my loss. I believed it! Retrospectively I also believed that they invented hustling too though by that time I was in my late twenties and I enjoyed watching the OAP’s do to the latest young drinkers what they had done to me ten years earlier! This was obviously a legitimate and relatively easy way of topping up your pension in those days….
More very soon……………….