The Historical Jolly Anchor Hotel, which traces its ancestry back to the early 17th century, is to have a change of ownership. After many years of being owned by the InBev Group, it is being sold to local entrepreneur Steve Joggers. Steve says he has exciting plans for the old public house, which many locals say is in dire need of a makeover.
“I have exciting plans for the future of The Jolly Anchor, including opening the upstairs rooms again as a hotel, and I hope to get a permit to open an authentic Indian Restaurant with its own entrance on High Street.”
When the divorce papers arrived, I found a lawyer and told him to do whatever was necessary, and to do it as cheaply as he could. The only assets were the apartments in Lynn and Edinburgh, and there was no question of alimony, so it was a relatively “easy” settlement. When it was over, and I was a “free man” again, I vowed that I’d never get serious about a woman ever again. It hurt, a lot more than I ever thought it would, but over time it came to be less at the front of my mind.
Besides, I was back in full swing of life in Lynn. I was a successful store manager and had a wide circle of friends. I was active once again in the local Jag owners club. Although I no longer had my workshop, I would often spend time with some of the other enthusiasts tinkering about under the hood of a classic Jaguar. For myself, I now drove an S-Type, which was more in keeping with my more mature status.
I once again became a regular in the bars around town and didn’t lack for the company of women when I needed it, although faithful to my pledge I stayed away from any hint of commitment. One evening as I was enjoying a quiet pint at the Anchor I got into a conversation with a woman who I had noticed a few times in the pub. She was not there as often as me, but when she arrived it was about an hour after I come in from work, and she headed straight for the slot machine after getting her drink. She then proceeded to relentlessly put in coin after coin, sometimes winning, but always her pile of coins relentlessly went down. I learned that her name was Jenny and that she was the owner of a local business, but what intrigued me was a nagging sense that I had seen her before.
One evening she had won handsomely at the machine, and insisted on getting all the regulars a drink with the winnings, and, of course, we all had to buy her one in return, and the evening got later and rowdier. I had already found out that she was gay, and somehow that made it easier for us to talk; we both knew that talk was as far as anything was going to go.
After a while, I grew tired of beer, and turned to scotch, and Jenny changed to ordering vodka and coke. It was almost midnight, and we were the only ones still in the bar as the staff started to clean up. We were both talking about our past lives, and Jenny had just been saying about how she had met someone at the Harbor Inn soon after she had arrived in town, but that relationship had not lasted. I was just beginning to say something about my first wife when it struck me.
“That woman from the Harbor Inn, did she happen to be called Judy?” I asked sure I knew the answer already. “Yes, she was, funny that because…” she stopped short, and her eyes widened as the light of recognition hit her. “Oh shit,” she continued “because her husband was called Tony. I only saw him once, and I didn’t take a lot of notice of what he looked like really.”
“No, you were too busy trying to get your clothes on.” Suddenly, something struck me as incredibly funny, and I started to laugh uncontrollably. Jenny began to laugh along with me, even though she didn’t know what I was laughing at. “You know,” I managed to say eventually, “I must be one of the only men around here who has seen you naked!”
Judy laughed even louder, and then said “and if you tell anyone that I’ll be forced to kill you.”
“Hey, keep it down you two.” Henry, the barman, called to us as he washed glasses.
“Let’s have another round Henry, and one for yourself too” I called back “turns out Jenny and I have more in common than we thought!”
“Yea, we both screwed the same woman,” Judy said to me in an undertone, and we fell about laughing again.
One day at the store a man came in, about my own age I guessed and started wandering aimlessly around the beds on display. I thought that Peggy would have been the perfect person to close a deal with a guy like this, but as it was her day off, I smiled and went to see what I could sell.
We talked for a bit about types of bed, and I asked what size of bed he needed, did he have a sleep partner or…
“A double bed I think,” he said, and looked away “No, I’m divorced, and I just need a bed for my flat, I’m fed up with sleeping in the chair.” I looked at his face to see if this was a joke of some sort, but I judged not. I said that I was recently divorced too and that I understood that one of the really hard adjustments was sleeping alone again.
He looked at me with something like relief in his eyes. “Exactly,” he said, and we went on to talk about lawyers’ fees and the trouble with the court system. I found his name was Percy, that he was a newcomer to Lynn, having moved here when he split up from his wife, and that he was starting from scratch again after the move. Along the way, I also sold him a bed; not the most expensive one, even though I’m sure I could have done, but certainly one that he’d be able to use for many years to come. I learned that he actually was sleeping in a chair in his flat, and I expedited delivery for him at no extra cost.
As he was leaving, he shook my hand and said it had been great talking with me. I felt the same, so I mentioned the Anchor and that I went there most nights after work. I said that if he was at a loose end he might want to drop in, and he laughed. “I’m always at a loose end,” he said. “Thanks, yeah, I might take you up on that!”
As expected, Percy came in that evening, and it happened Jenny was in that night too, so he joined us both at the bar. I introduced him around to other locals as they came and went, and we had a great evening. After that, he often joined us in the bar, and we all three became great friends.