First Contact

Adapt­ed from ‘The George at Cley’ by Dun.can from Flickr under Cre­ative Com­mons.

A glamorous, terrifying whirl of light, lushness and noise – that’s my earliest memory of The Pub.

I was about sev­en or eight and on a fam­i­ly hol­i­day in Cley next the Sea, Nor­folk. We usu­al­ly stayed in slight­ly scary bed-and-break­fasts (out by ten and don’t come back until tea time) but that year, for some rea­son, we were in the George Hotel. My mem­o­ries are of gor­geous­ly deep red car­pets and a baro­nial fire­place whose scale and rich­ness are prob­a­bly being exag­ger­at­ed in the data recall process.

The moment I recall most vivid­ly, the instance when my crush on The Pub was formed, is from after dark. I’d been put to bed and told to stay there with a warn­ing: under no cir­cum­stances was I to come down to the pub­lic bar. But I need­ed some­thing, in the way only small chil­dren can need some­thing, and so I had to go down to where I could hear every­one laugh­ing and hav­ing fun with­out me.

I was awed by the expe­ri­ence. Every­thing was sparkling and every­one was aglow, includ­ing my par­ents, sur­round­ed by friends and gen­tly, socia­bly tip­sy, in the midst of a crowd of mer­ry strangers.

The illu­sion was shat­tered when they spot­ted me and, in a half-pan­ic, bun­dled me back upstairs with a telling off, but it was too late.

I’d seen where adults went to play, and I liked it, and thir­ty years on, I still do.

One thought on “First Contact”

  1. I’ve stayed in that exact hotel! (though they put us up in the euphemisti­cal­ly titled “sta­bles flats” out­side. Were/are your par­ents bird­watch­ers too?

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