I Never Wanted a Pub…


Written by Celia Bannister

The hilarious characters and events the author experienced running a village pub in the 1950s.

“Chocolate lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes shot out in all directions. The receiver of the blows was unmoved. He’d already made his first move in the affray. While his friend (as normally they were) was in the toilet, leaving the row mid-stream as it were, he had deposited his lower set of dentures into his adversary’s pewter tankard and now watched with interest as he lowered the pint.”

I Never Wanted a Pub, page 20

Celia Bannister never wanted a pub. She thought that her future husband would be an engineer. Then life took a different turn, and the couple became the youngest pub tenants in North West England.

I Never Wanted a Pub is Celia's tale of the thirteen years she and her husband battled leaky roofs, a freezing kitchen and the difficulty of getting customers in and then out again on time.

Particularly memorable are the larger-than life characters who share Celia's pages. Like the bridegroom who dropped his false teeth down the lavatory or Tom, the road mender who demonstrated that he had no belly button or Wing Co who had an unfortunate encounter with an animal laxative.

Now in her late eighties, Celia has lived in the Isle of Man since 1973 when her husband became a lecturer at the College of Further Education. He died in 2016, the year after celebrating their diamond wedding. She is a born storyteller who recounts tales of flooded cellars, disappearing coach parties and a near-miss by a crashing aeroplane with equal gusto and glee.

From the Book

"I looked across the Brewery office at our rivals; the other seven couples on the shortlist. They personified my idea of publicans. Respectably middle-aged, smartly dressed and confident, their years of experience in the business was evident. Obviously, they were already acquainted as, seemingly at ease, they laughed and chatted together; the men pulling on fat cigars and their wives smoothing down costume skirts above nylon-clad legs and high-heeled shoes.

I tried to hide my bare legs and sandalled feet further under the bentwood chair. Intimidated I whispered to Eric. 'Why are we here? How on earth did we make the shortlist?' ... And to crown it all I was three months pregnant; hence my casual appearance.

Eric answered the questions calmly and competently while I waited in a cold sweat for my turn. It came. What, they asked, did I think the more important in running a pub, catering or the bar? 'Both', I replied, gabbling on about it being equally essential for the two sides to run successfully in tandem. Inwardly I quailed. I knew absolutely nothing about either ...

Then a week later I had to call on the vicar in whose parish the pub was situated. 'Well', he said, 'I believe we are going to be neighbours.' He had heard on the local grape-vine that we had got the pub. So had the garage proprietor and the village shopkeeper. Speedily I cycled the three miles home, rang Eric at work who, in turn, rang the Brewery. The general manager expressed surprise that Eric had not been in to sign the tenancy agreement. 'How could I when I never heard anything from you', replied Eric crisply.

It turned out that we had been selected straight after our interview and a letter to that effect had been written. Unfortunately, a clerk in the general office had forgotten to post it and the precious document was found still lying on her desk.

In this roundabout and protracted way we learned that we had got a pub."

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