Being Tony: Friends

The Jolly Anchor had had many landlords in the time I’d know it and had at one time been one of the hubs of the community. Over recent years, however, it had gone down in popularity, and the long term landlords were replaced by short-term managers. One evening I arrived to find the doors shut and notice that they would be closed until further notice. I was shocked. This place was so much a part of my life that I couldn’t imagine it not existing anymore, even though I knew a lot of the local pubs had also closed down.

I went along to the White Hart and found Percy already there, deep in conversation with someone I’d not seen before. When he noticed me, Percy beckoned me over.

“Hi Tony, just the person I wanted to see, you’ve not met Steve, have you?” he said. The stranger turned out to be Steve Joggers, and he had some exciting news. The Jolly Anchor was up for sale, and Steve was interested in buying it. We talked about the pub, and the people that went there, and it soon became apparent to me that Percy was looking to work for Steve at the bar.

When Steve excused himself to go to the bathroom, I asked Percy about it. “Yes,” he said, “I met Steve a few days ago, and I really want to get out of the store and work in the pub, what do you think?” I told him from my experience that it would be hard work, but really fun too, and encouraged him to go for it. In the back of my mind, I also thought how that it wouldn’t hurt me to friends with the new landlord. When Steve came back, I finished up my drink and said I had to move on, and I left them deep in conversation again.

It was just a few weeks later that the Anchor reopened, with the smiling face of Percy as the landlord, and I got a personal invite to the opening. It was a great party, and I was sure that Percy would make a great landlord. I even joked that maybe one day he could give me a job as one of his barman.

My world settled into a nice routine, with the store, The Anchor, my apartment and a few close friends being the cornerstones to it. On my days off I’d drive into the country or visit a beach. When Christmas time came, Percy had a private party in one of the upstairs rooms at The Anchor. He left the bar staff to cope downstairs, and a few of us had a great time drinking and laughing. Percy produced a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon, which isn’t something I had very often. Maybe it was that, or maybe just because I was sitting with good friends, but the talk started to become less light-hearted, and more real.

We talked about relationships, about divorce, about being or not being parents. It was a kind of regret of mine that I never had children, and I spoke for the first time in years about the time when Judy lost our baby. I noticed a tear in the corner of Jenny’s eye as I talked, and she came over and gave me a hug.

For some reason, that action broke the floodgates, and I found myself talking about when my parents split up, and how much it hurt that my mother didn’t seem to want me. I realized that I hadn’t spoken to my brother for years and that it was because deep inside I had a resentment about that time, all those years ago.

Percy had never talked about his divorce, but he started to now, and we had a real heart to heart conversation. By this stage, it was just the three of us, me, Percy and Jenny, and we were all in a deeply reflective mood.

It was very late, and there was a knock on the door. Percy opened it to find one of the bar staff there, letting Percy know that they had closed up. “Just wanted to let you know it’s all done before we head on home,” he said.

“Home?” Percy replied. “Well, you can if you need to, but you guys must have been working hard down there, why don’t I get you all a pre-Christmas drink?”

And so with that, we all went down to the bar, and Percy served the exhausted staff drinks, along with more bourbon for Jenny and me.

I had a severe headache the next morning, but it was worth it. Although I hadn’t realized it, those thoughts had been hanging over my head for years, and it was great to get them out in the open and to do it with a couple of people who I considered to be really great friends.


About Derek Knight

Transplanted Brit, now in the US Mid West | Writer, blogger & author | passionate about life | Traveler and home body | | | |
This entry was posted in Being Tony - A Novel, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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