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I bathe in luxurious grins wrapped in an almost-gone summer Sunday tunnel carved from light on these streets that seem like former versions of themselves even when itís happening and Iím here: right now. Experiencing it. Voices rattle, as though they are comforting hands on arms, some of them, and some of them distinct threatening edges of notes from mouths, loose ends. Warning sounds in this half-warm bowl, with the harvests appearing as a catalogue; many mixtures Ė everything from a late spring distilled so as to enliven lusty exchanges, open-top cars with blaring house beats, carnival goodmoods from market multi-colours, vibes reaching their potential, slumbers overthrown and hidden. Laughter from numerous folk rises into the barspace so that it becomes a jumble, an overview sound made up by its variable parts, but then, when it starts to die out, fragmentary residual hahas are sharp and in focus, but just for seconds. Or a second. Maybe less. We succumb to this cocoon, or, it embraces us so hard that we are unable to do anything but hug it back, breathless, yet, in the end, willing to carry on the motion without resistance. Every-now-and-then steel rumble from a proximate train. Someone asking for a recommended beer. The platform monitor, prophetic, beaming to us on the four-seater. Further crusts of laughter. The cycle appears to repeat about 90 times, although it is probably fewer, and by now the whiteblue skies have been superseded by non-dark night, which is fluffy and like a watercolour. That lust and laughter speeds up and slows down, the noises part of an acoustic chamber that soaks them up and distorts them, changing the original realness of them and makes them, if anything, more real, adding the roomís lustre to them, with all its done-before, grand echoes that offer a great authentic freeze-frame of the outside nightpoignancy. The effect is how I always imagine the outside is when Iím outside but canít fully grasp it. And with each extra drink, the bar at the edge of the shopblock, opposite the market row and parallel to the raised Southeastern railway, becomes a crucial room where the action is kindled Ė one on the brink of being incendiary. Smiles mark the territory and block whatís beyond the steaming-up glass. Zones are redefined, other walls smashed. I donít know whatís going to happen; it doesnít matter as I think in one-minute blocks, and the blocks flow from one to another with ease. Obviously I donít consider any further ahead Ė and none of us think about when this wonít be here anymore, which it wonít. But somewhere, deep, thereís a little bit of me that stores it, appreciates it, soaks all I can from it for when it has been sold on, regenerated, the energy of it changed, and I also wonder if all those things are good or bad. Soon, walking home is full of cheer and recollections of lost dreams, and sniggers. Itís still boiling and the clear sky punctuated here and there with small stars, the way that tiny bits of light come through a dark curtain.

The DeadPubs website lists the landlords and landladies for the pub up to 1956. 1894 Ė 1920 George Mason 1917 Ė 1940 Albert Matthews 1921 Albert E Matthews 1944 Mabel Elnaugh 1944 Ė 1956 Mabel Elnaugh

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