Learn from the past but don’t take it with you.

They say you can never go back. You might not want to go back and live with your parents again, but is it really that bad to hold onto the past? I learned the hard way.

mindfulness image

Ghosts of the passed.

A while ago, a friend and I decided to go on a road trip. Well, it wasn’t exactly a road trip in the true sense of the word, it was just meeting up to reminisce about the good old days.

Our choice of location was somewhere we had spent much of the early eighties and where we held very important positions in the brewing industry. Our role at the time was to drink as much real ale as we could manage, warm it to body temperature, transport it fifteen yards to the back of the building and deposit it carefully into the urinal trough. This, as you will appreciate, is important and demanding work, and required a lengthy apprenticeship.

With much hope in our hearts, we headed back to somewhere that had kept us very happy for more than half a decade.

Sadly, our decision was a big mistake because, while everything was totally unchanged in my head, many aspects were completely different in real life. Although, there were some features that appeared to have successfully evaded any attempts at change.

From the outside, the biggest change was that of the half dozen families living in the car park. In the intervening period since my last visit, someone had managed to fit a terrace of about six homes into the space that used to be parking for about six cars. Other than that, there was: the same sign, the same door and the same paint. Not the same colour scheme, the same paint.

Pub sign

Entering the pub didn’t make up for the disappointment of the outside. I didn’t expect to recognise the faces because it had been thirty years, but some of the drinkers at the bar looked as if they hadn’t washed since I was last in. The floor certainly hadn’t been swept since. We ordered a couple of pints, but I feared for the condition of the pipes that the ale was to be pumped through.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike, and drinking real ale is no different. Just as it had done in the eighties, my bladder soon gave me the bag full indicator and I had to retrace a much trodden journey.

Gents sign

It is fair to say that much of what made the place so enjoyable in the eighties had been lost along the way. Things like atmosphere, hospitality and cleanliness. But, of all the things I miss about the place, the one thing I didn’t miss was the trough in the gents. Judging by the amount of urine that I had to wade through to get to it, it seems that the current regulars don’t necessarily consider where they stand as quite such an important position in the brewing industry.

Then was then, now is now.

The old days might have been great. These days might be great. It’s just not wise to try to join the two together.

I think they are right. You can never go back.