From Spain to England: Pablo’s Pub Story

Our local pub is one that comes straight out of a horror film.

The faded sign hanging above the crumbling plaster creaks and whines as it swings in the breeze.

The door is an ancient oak contraption that refuses to budge for any person without prior knowledge of its finicky latch. Once you’ve stumbled inside, there’s an unmarked drop into the pub proper that never fails to trip up newcomers. After falling into the bar, thoroughly ruffled and a little sore, you will have an entire room of people staring you down – trying to understand why a person outside of the village would even think of coming in.

The usual stranger to the village will assume that behind the craggy exterior will be hiding a rustic pub with ‘original features’ in tact. They’ll imagine an amiable barman with a jolly belly and a host of nourishing local ales pulled from a barrel. Perhaps the recent metropolitan obsession with ‘shabby chic’ and exposed brickwork has led the fashion conscious part of the population to imagine that behind every faded sign and unmarked door lies a hidden wonderland of craft ales and cutting edge hip hop music.

The average tourist, looking for such a place, is easy to spot. There’ll be the usual rattling of the latch, followed by concerted efforts to barge the solid door until a couple of young people, usually wearing tight fitting jeans, will fall in a pile in the centre of the bar. They will laugh initially, taking time to carefully brush the dirt from their clothes before realising that that a whole room of people will be inspecting them in silence.

When they glance at the taps of average lager, note the stick thin proprietor, Jeff, nursing a glass of vodka, and fail to hear any music from the last two decades, they will inevitably come to the decision that this is not a place that actively welcomes anyone of their own kind.

When Pablo stumbled into The Nag’s Head for the first time he impressed everyone by bucking the trend.

There was the familiar fumbling of the latch of course, the queue for everyone to stop their conversations and swivel to face the door. Then…silence. We continued to stare, expecting a few hard shoves, but none came. Instead, three sharp knocks rattled through the thick door and a cheerful ‘Ola!’. With a confused expression on his face, Jeff left his drink on the bar and cautiously pulled the door open.

‘Hello! Could I have some beer please? I have money!’

That’s all he had to say to instantly win us over. His paint spattered overalls marked him as a working man and the bags under his eyes matched the same that hung beneath ours. Welcomed in by Jeff, he watched his step as he entered the pub and pulled up a bar stool next to me.

‘You look like a man who could do with another pint.’

Having drunk four already, I’d let myself stare at this stranger for too long and he had mistaken my intent gaze for friendliness. I ceded to his offer and we began talking about how he came to be in our dark corner of Devon.

He’d spent the last 4 weeks buying his passage to the country by working for a company specialising in removals from Spain to England. Ferrying himself back and forth from his homeland, he’d seen tantalising glimpses of England as he unloaded boxes – the final trip he made was from Barcelona to our little village. Having spent a month essentially living in transit, he received his payment in the form of a final trip from Spain to England, bringing him to rest in the West Country for the foreseeable future.

Pablo seemed unaffected by his month spent living in a van, a part from his dark panda eyes (a by-product of continual early starts and a fondness for lager) he smiled often and laughed even more. I asked him how such an ordeal could possibly have left him in such a good humour and he simply stated that he had control over the Triple Gunas.

There began a long evening of explanation and questions that led to me where I am today.

Posted by: John on