The Green Man

In the novel, 1978’s Crosschester has more pubs per square foot than a porcupine has quills, or at least it feels that way. One pub plays a major role in the development of the British Democratic and Freedom Party: a party of race hate and ego. Pay a visit why don’t you.

The Green Man pub lurked on The Sleepers Hill just out of the city centre. It was  grim. It was squat, beige-grey, flat-headed and mean with more bars than drinkers most of the week. Outside, the carpark was pockmarked with a few cars but it was mostly a venue for fights and the Friday night chip van.

On a midweek evening in October, The British Democratic Freedom Party was finally close to revealing itself to the world and this revelation was being brought to fruition in the private room over the public bar. Downstairs the regular drinkers swayed and discussed the acceptable sports. A jukebox oozed five songs into the fug.

The locals down there were mostly prison officers, a few ex-cons, pensioners and a group of Teddy Boys in their thirties. They all loved The Green Man because tourists, of which there were thousands in the ancient city at all times, never ventured in. There were rarely any women in the place, there were no fancy drinks or crisp flavours, there was no fancy ideas, no fancy conversations. There was a sticky, faded red carpet. There was a stag’s head with a single remaining antler that jutted out of a wall over the electric fireplace in the lounge bar. At least once a night somebody said that it must have been going at a hell of a clip when it hit that wall, and everybody else laughed because the joke was so familiar.

Every wall in every bar was lined with pictures of fox hunts, fields with hayricks, ships firing cannons, Spitfires, Winston Churchill, horses, pigs and sportsmen. In between these were crossed cricket bats and oars, football boots and a single, tarnished horse brass nailed into the flock-covered plaster. Cigarette smoke pervaded and obscured everything.

The Green Man had been hastily thrown up by the brewery in the 1950s to take money from the newly developed Stanhope housing estate. No one ever looked at The Green Man and thought, “We could do a lot with that place, make it really cosy and welcoming” or “let’s pop in there for a pint”, because The Green Man whispered, “Fuck of” to anybody who passed by. This was another reason the pub was beloved of the local drinkers. “A man’s boozer”, “A professional drinker’s pub”, were some of the names given to it by those who appreciated its claustrophobically dark interiors, its lack of choice and its testy service.

Harry Mottram, the Assistant Landlord of The Green Man, walked into the upstairs bar from the gents and made his way over to the dartboard to watch. Two men were playing a game of Killer, badly.

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