'You know how there are some pubs you’ll just never go in?’, Born and Bred Boy said as we strolled through town. ‘How some look like your sort of place, and others simply don’t?’
I nodded, but distractedly. We were heading for a pub that’s definitely my kind of place, the Pelham Arms, and I was planning what to order. These decisions take time.
‘And then sometimes’, Boy went on, good lord would he ever stop talking, ‘you accidentally go into one you thought wasn’t your sort of place, and find you were wrong.’
The welcoming lights of the Pelham glowed into view. We quickly reached the door but Boy kept on walking.
‘OY!’ I called delicately, but he didn’t turn back, and I was forced to scuttle to catch him up.
‘Where are we going, Boy?’ My image of a long, tall glass began to darken and fade.
‘You haven’t been listening to a word, have you? We’re going somewhere new.’
On we went , through the bottleneck. Then Boy stopped, outside the orange-y façade of the Brewers.
‘But we don’t...’
‘I know. But I went here the other day, by mistake. And it was fan-blinking-tastic. Couldn’t believe I’d lived here all my life, this little diamond on my doorstep, and never gone in.’
Inside, it was a real old-fashioned pub. Not modern old-fashioned, like the Lewes Arms, but your genuine unreconstructed tavern, with patterned carpets and brasses. A couple of fellas swivelled on their stools to give us the traditional silent greeting to strangers.
‘Did you know’, said Boy, ‘there has been a pub on this site since the seventeenth century?’
One of the chaps at the bar had clearly been there since then.
‘Also’, Boy went on, ‘there is a book called The Wit and Wisdom of the Brewers Arms, consisting of snippets overheard at the bar, and it is my intention to get into that book by the end of the year.’
He showed me the latest pages, pinned to a notice-board.
‘Is that why we’re here? So you can be officially recognised as a Lewes comedian?’
‘Not entirely’, he said, and coughed. We ordered our drinks, and I discovered the reason for our visit. The barmaid greeted Boy by name. She was attractive, friendly and quick with the banter. Boy softened visibly in her presence, and made a few ill-advised attempts at wit and wisdom. It was like hanging out with Aging Lad.
‘So’, I said, taking a long slurp from my much-needed restorative. ‘How does one go to a pub ‘by mistake’?’
Boy looked sheepish. ‘I’m helping my mate with some decorating, and he said he’d meet me at Brewers. But he meant the paint shop in Brighton.’
‘How long before you realised?’
‘Long enough’, he said, ‘to know that this is my kind of place.’
And he raised his pint, an uncharacteristically relaxed expression on his face.
Beth Miller, 14th April 2010. Published in VivaLewes.com, and Viva Lewes handbook April 2012. Photo by Alex Leith