It’s pouring with rain today, all day. Our visit to the flower festival aborted we decided to have a lunchtime drink in the Woodman in Chapmore End. It is perhaps my favourite pub along with the Wonder in Enfield. Small, simple, friendly unpretentious and nowadays it serves good and imaginative food as well as good bitter and now stocks sherry. It is satisfying sitting, talking in such quiet and non-judgemental atmosphere just as people have for a hundred years or more.
There is a picturesque village pond full of optimistic ducks and a bright red, traditional telephone box. One year we sat on the bench, next to the phone box with Bill and Renee, enjoying being there. Bill is no longer with us but I think of him on every visit.
Valerie had her sherry, Peggy lime and lemonade and me tomato juice spiced with Tabasco sauce.
Our first visit in 2001, about 4 managers ago, was a strange experience and inspired a poem. We enjoyed it very much and have driven there for a drink witnessing changes over the years but it is still, at heart, the Woodman a great pub.
The Woodman – Chapmore End
We walk to the bar,
a terrier shakes and a cloud of dust
bounces around in the winter sun.
An old piano skulks near by,
its veneer of bird’s eye maple and dirt
concealing rhythm and passion.
There’s a Spanish guitar,
a concertina, all are silent.
Here the uniform is old clothes,
fleeces spattered with mud.
It’s seedy, untidy but;
is a real pub,
sells real ale
has real regulars.
We don’t have sherry, don’t have food.
The tall, pale android is polite but firm
wondering why we want these strange things
in a pub that sells good bitter.
There’s no smoke, no mobile phones,
it’s warm and a table’s free – so we stay.
Me with tomato juice Valerie with Scotch,
sharing crisps and a pickled egg
in an English pub.
© Anthony Fisher January 2001