Oasis

aged black and white cane elderly

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He took a mouthful of his beer, closed his eyes and savoured the taste of it before letting it drop slowly down his throat and let out an appreciative “aaaaahhh”. He couldn’t put words to the colour, smell and taste of the pint in front of him, he just knew he liked it.

He put his glass down on the Black Sheep beer mat, on the solid square oak table in front of him and looked around. Alone in the room, he was in his favourite chair, in the corner of the taproom, furthest from the fire but still able to enjoy its warmth and out of the draught from the door. The large but simple stone fireplace was adorned with the usual pub paraphernalia and the hearth was filled with wood basket, coal scuttle and toolset. The fire would soon need tending to get it roaring again on this bleak winter’s evening.

The rest of the room was decorated simply but nicely, with a mish-mash of table and chair styles, the main theme being grey, red and black tartan, complimenting a magnificent stag’s head above the fireplace. The place wasn’t newly decorated nor was it in need of a refurb, it was homely.

As for himself, his now almost white hair and moustache were immaculately groomed as usual, his military background evident from the crispness of his attire, discrete RAF tie clip and the preference for a stiff backed seat. He took another drink of his pint, the rings round the inside of the glass telling him it was poured well. He sat back in his chair, literally his chair, it even had a plaque above it saying “Jack’s seat”, took a deep breath, exhaled slowly and picked up his book. All of a sudden he was lost in another world, the gentle hubbub of the pub going on around him ignored.

He had the staff well trained. About an hour later they brought him their famous steak and ale pie with chips, peas and gravy and then apple crumble and custard and a few minutes after each pint was finished they put down another until he’d had four. On receiving his meal he put away the book and enjoyed the simple fayre

This was his ritual, once a week on a Monday night, he was virtually guaranteed a quiet time in the pub. He had just put down his spoon after scraping the last of the custard from the bowl when Tom and Joyce walked in, sat with him without asking and started up a conversation.

They asked the usual questions about how his wife was, though knew the answers as she was bedridden with arthritis and suffering from dementia. They quickly moved on to other subjects as this was Jack’s only time away from his caring duties, his weekly respite, as one of the girls from the village sat with Barbara for a few hours. They soon had him chatting and laughing about their recent exploits on an organised tour to India. Cricket, weather and grandchildren were also discussed.

An evening spent in simple pleasures but to Jack the little pub, in the little village was his sanity, his sanctuary, his little oasis in the middle of nowhere.

Author: Liz

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