I turned into The Old Stag public house on a whim. It wasn’t a thing that I’d usually do – in fact, I’d only frequented my ’local’ about three times in the two years that we’d been living here. When I say ’about’ three times, that number is so low that I should definitely be able to recall the previous trio of entrances.
Let me see.
I first went there on the day of our moving in to ’The Beeches’ when I was seeking a short length of fuse wire.
’What do you think this is – an iron-mongers?’ was the ’friendly’ reply to my query. I left there a little deflated, and with nothing in the way of a solution to our ’current’ electrical problem. ’Current!’ do you get it?
The second time of entering through the doors of The Old Stag was when we took our family visitors there for a traditional Sunday Roast.
It was a Sunday; but, according to a notice in the bar, their chef was unwell after catering for a stag do in The Old Stag the previous evening. His own. No food was to be forthcoming and so we departed for distant climes to provide a hearty repast for ourselves and our guests.
The third time was well over a year ago. There was a darts derby match on that night. Treveltope Targets we’re playing Polymouth Phoenix Arose (sic). I was surplus to available bar space and the corner I stood in rapidly became a Room 501 for me.
Tonight was different.
’Under New Management’ had announced the notice in the window.
But. I was under no illusions that we were going to be happy with our renovated and re-upholstered local.
”Welcome to The New Stag!” a moustachioed copy of Charlie Chaplin, minus the Brown Derby bowler hat, approached from behind the bar.
”Can I get you a drink, sir? The first one is on the house.”
Well, I was stunned.
There had been a total transformation.
Gone was every vestige of character in the place. Modern seating, lighting, framed prints on the walls that would have confused Picasso. I was shocked to see a modern twenty-first century bling of a place.
I must say that I am no fuddy-duddy; but, this was something that I couldn’t help but gawp at.
A golden bust of a hugely oversize stag’s head was a centrepiece that would have put King Tut to shame. Antlers spreading up and out like a peacock’s tail – only much more flamboyant; and when you considered the marble plinth that supported this… this… monstrosity…
The stag was probably the worst attempt at a likeness since… well, since cave-paintings began.
”Can I get sir a drink? Sir?”
I was too shocked to reply. I had become transfixed by the gaze of the Lord of the Forest, I stood and was transfixed.
The eyes, it was the eyes that did it. They were piercing. The only part of the statue that wasn’t gold, they looked right through me. They knew my innermost thoughts and desires. I was revealed to those eyes as if my whole life’s CV had been printed on the side of a red AEC Routemaster London bus and paraded up and down Oxford Street for a week – the whole thing being simultaneously broadcast on 57 varieties of television channel.
I know not what happened then; but, I awoke in a hospital bed.
After much fuss and bother, I was informed that I had been taken from an establishment ’licensed for the purveyance of alcohol and spirits…’ some three years previously.
”Oh!” was my uninspiring response. Followed by the even more dismal, ”Oh, deer!”