A dark street, an open door and a carpet of light rolled out in welcome… Come on in, hang your coat, find a spot. Pint?
It’s been an emotional year and it doesn’t take much right now to trigger a lump in the throat. The latest thing to catch us out was an episode of Hazell, a 1970s ITV series about a private detective in London.
In ‘Hazell works for nothing’ our hero, played by Nicholas Ball, is given the job of finding a man on the run in London’s docklands. Summoning his sidekick, his cousin Tel, he sets out the plan: “The London, and The Dickens, The Moorings, The Old House at Home, The Grapes, Chequers, Prospect and The Four Colts.”
The montage that follows is all wet Wapping cobbles and frosted windows as Hazell and Tel fall in and out of one pub after another. What got us specifically was the sight of a pub door from afar; its opening; and the surge of music, light and laughter.
It made us think of approaching The Royal Oak on Tabard Street on a winter’s evening, The Marble Arch in Manchester or The Merchant’s Arms here in Bristol. Lively pubs in quiet neighbourhoods, home fires burning.
In the finale of the TV series Ashes to Ashes light spilling from a pub door onto an otherwise deserted city street is an image of heaven – yeah, go one, just one more pint, for the rest of eternity.
In reality, that open door is a promise. A tease. An invitation.