Today it's the ban on coal and undried wood. I was, in the jargon, triggered. And suddenly I remembered one perfect evening many years ago, at my little flint rubble cottage in Needham Market one windy Autumn night. I'd made supper, which just needed reheating in the oven, and Jennie drove us over in her battered old Mini to a seventeenth century pub some three miles away. There we sat companionably by the huge double-room inglenook in which an entire Elm root crackled and glowed, sharing a packet of fags under the crooked black oak beams and nicotine cream plaster. We drank no more than about three pints each and drove back home for supper.
Jennie is no more, taken by cancer. Her car would no longer be allowed on the road - one simply doesn't see old cars like that any more. And now that pub fire, which has warmed whole generations of villagers, will be cold for ever more. Of course the pub was closed eight years ago, after the smoking ban, and because no one would risk driving after a pint. The pub was lit by low wattage incandescent lamps, which would have been replaced anyway by harsh plastic-white LED lighting, and the black tar coating on the inglenook would be condemned by the Health for its phenol content.
It struck me in a moment that in a year or two, not one element of that simple evening would any longer be possible. That's change.
|The fire at the Dunwich Ship - another great pub fire I have known|