My pub used to have a darts team. Not just any darts team – mine was different. We lost every match we ever played! We were in the local pubs league. Some matches I hosted and others were played at other pubs in the area. The closest of these and my nearest competitor was The Horam Inn, otherwise known somewhat sarcastically as the Horam Hilton.
It was owned by an eccentric elderly lady known as Miss T. She lived in a large detached house deeper in the village with her driver cum handy man Laurey who also doubled up as barman at the Hilton. She never visited her pub, but every day her meals were carried down the road to her by a member of her staff.
It was the one place my team dreaded visiting. Now I’m not saying it was dirty, but we always took our own glasses to drink from! There’s were coated in a film of grease mainly due to the fact that they were washed in the same machine as the soiled pots and dishes. The other thing we had to remember was never to sit at the bar leaning on an elbow, particularly if you were wearing a light coloured shirt. When you tried to move away you would find your sleeve stuck to the surface! Not just that, but you would later discover that your shirt had suddenly developed an immovable stain at the elbow.
But this was priceless. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed it. We were playing darts and as usual trailing in the match. The atmosphere was tense and a hush fell over the bar each time a dart was thrown (and in our case missed). During those moments the only sound to be heard was that of a washing machine working away in an upstairs room above the bar. There was a sudden crash and the machine plunged through the ceiling stopping just a couple of inches above Laurie’s head suspended by its cable and still frantically spinning its load of laundry.
Not long after, Miss T decided to sell up. She was now well into her nineties, business was bad and the entire building had fallen into a state of neglect and disrepair. Laurie drove her down to my pub twice each day for her meals and once a month her son arrived from London to pay her account. Sadly Laurie died, he was only forty three, and after that my staff took it in turns to collect and return Miss T each day. I left a couple of years ago and as far as I know the arrangement still carries on.
The new owners of the Horam Inn had to completely gut the building. It took a team of workers two weeks to get it to a state where refitting could commence. Every time I went past I saw them coming in and out completely covered with protective white overalls, gloves and shoe covers. The transformation was unbelievable.
Today the Horam Inn stands proud and pristine, and a joy to visit.