The other day I was walking somewhere in the evening and it was quite chilly and I went past a pub just as someone left. Out side the pub was a man smoking and the smell of the warm pub combined with the smell of the cigarette made me go all wavy lines and nostalgic.
I love pubs. My auntie Jean had a mini one in her hotel in the 1970s. It was more a cupboard with a hatch, a short bar and a line of optics behind. There was a till and those Big D nuts on a cardboard display that as the packs were sold, revealed a lady almost, but not quite, falling out of her shirt.
There are bars all over the world and everywhere I have been, I’ve made a point of visiting as many as I could cope with. But pubs, they are something very specific. I had my 21st birthday in a pub. Back in the olden days when pubs closed in the afternoons between 2 and 5.30, even at the weekends. I got an extension and we drank ourselves decadently stupid in the afternoon.
Things are different now, lot of things. You can get plastered in a selection of pubs 24-7 legally. The novelty of going to Spitalfields for a pint and a full english is more tourist thing than legitimate rite of passage as London newbie (drinking division). But the thing I miss the most is the smoking. Well probably not the smoking, certainly not the smell the next day when the pub has got cold and stale. But that smell that you used to get on a cold night if you walked past a pub just as someone was leaving and they bought the smell of the inside warmth, the beer and fresh smoke in their wake. You can’t photograph that.
But you can photograph boozers with a wide angle pinhole camera, so this is exactly what I went and did.