“On Monday of this week, I recorded a short piece for a birthday video for Russ, the bar manager of the West End Brewery.
It was nice to be asked to do this by Josh, the pub’s joint owner and its amazingly good head brewer.
From his Facebook post yesterday – the day of his actual birthday – Russ seemed quite overwhelmed that people had remembered him in this way.
I enjoyed the experience; I have known Russ for a number of years back to the days when he managed what was then Leicester’s no.1 real ale pub, The Criterion.
But it got me considering again how unreal the reality of this lockdown is.
It was nearly four weeks ago that I was last in the West End Brewery and it seemed like any other ordinary Friday.
I watched as the group I call the Mostyn Street Crowd enjoyed what for them is an end of the week tradition.
They were laughing and joking, ordering more drinks and, as is their regular thing, phoning for pizza from Bagos.
They are a friendly lot and there was a lot of hugging and kissing as you do with people close to you.
Or more precisely, as you did – as many of us did – before we entered the period that we are now in.
I have been thinking a lot since Monday about that March 13th day; it was the last time I saw my soulmate, it was the last day I saw Phil, the joint landlord of the Ale Wagon, alive (he died suddenly on April 2nd) and it was actually the last day I had a beer and saw Russ.
But what sticks in my mind is that glorious social interaction that I observed, which is now denied to us all.
And (as I write) what frames my thoughts is this was all less than four weeks ago.”