A Friday in June – 5.30 – The Woolpack’s Common Table

About twenty people sit outside in front of the on the long oak common table constructed by the owner and it is so popular that an inferior bench has been added to increase the seating numbers. They are a mixed group of about seventeen men and three women, though sometimes there are more women. Some smoke but not all of them. They sit on the bench seats opposite each other dressed in working or casual clothes. Most of the regulars who usually use the main bar, with a fire and no reserved tables, are outside on this sunny but breezy evening. The common table is in constant use throughout the year and the drinkers can be seen by all the traffic that passes the pub and often have to negotiate the highway due to the number of cars parked in a long line outside it. It is here at this table that certain people choose to sit to join this group of builders, mechanics, gardeners and bar staff as well as teachers and website designers.

Apparently, it has been hard to break into this group in the past but the good weather means anyone can sit wherever there is a space and join in. New relationships are made, old ones renewed but according to them no one who fancies themselves lasts long.

Nearly all the staff joins them from to time, when off duty, including the kitchen workers and chef. It is a place where you cannot avoid joining in and where you go if you enjoy sociable engagements. Its popularity may well because it is a place of connection and joviality, a place where taking part is an imperative. Those who wish to be less convivial sit inside at tables separated from one another and they are able to shield their privacy.

An hour later a local family arrive and look for a table for a quick meal and Wendy finds them one and they ask if Wendy knew her brother was getting married in the church in July and ask if they could put up some decorations at the pub – all agreed. Then another small group arrive, who have booked a table and one of them samples some of the beers. In the meantime two regulars, in working clothes, discuss a job for the following morning alongside those, dressed in more social casual clothes, who are sampling beers. A young couple join those outside and two of the staff joins them, making three, and they order cocktails. Wendy has to be free to do it. Now the number of women sat at the long table equals the number of men. The social structure of the common table reflects a wide clientele as does the main bar.

Leave a Reply