Growing Up In A Pub

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

A childhood memory



Growing up in a Pub


Our pub was called 'The Rising Sun' and it was the focal point of Tidy Street in Brighton. This is one of the streets that branches off from Trafalgar Street that stretches down to St Peter's Square from Brighton Station. Brighton, and Hove for that matter are by no means short of alcoholic watering holes for the general populace and I doubt if they ever will be.

I was a baby when Mum first carried me through the pub door. My brother Richard was my senior by two years. Mum and Dad had never run a pub before so it would be quite a challenge for them. I have distant memories of a dog called Peter then we had 'Trixie' who was part of the family for many years. We also had a succession of cats called 'Tinkle' as well as Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and numerous Gold Fish.

Richard and I had a long upstairs bedroom. Our beds, toys and various belongings were at either end with my bed being nearest the door. Our windows looked out on the back of our neighbours houses as well as their back gardens where washing could often be seen dancing merrily on washing lines and cats passed effortlessly from one wall to another.

Running a pub is very hard work. Each day, after closing, Mum and Dad were exhausted and welcomed a rest whenever they could take one. Times were hard. In those days is was perilously difficult to make end meet and I know that Dad often took extra gardening work. I also know that Mum and dad frequently went without food so as to ensure enough for Richard and myself.


During the period a theatre called the Hippodrome was a focal point of the night life of Brighton. Plays, variety shows and all manner of entertainment was staged there. Now, regrettably, it is a Bingo hall. Three doors along from The rising Sun there was a theatrical boarding house run by two vaudeville artistes Tex and Margaret Mcleod who were regular customers of our. We got to know them and their children Kit and Cordy well.

Tex and Margaret are no doubt peering overmy shoulder as I write this. Tex had been a veteran variety performer and I can now recall seeing him at the Hippodrome resplendent in Cowboy outfit spinning a Lariat around himself while telling jokes to his audience. Tex was also skilled in the use of a whip and could snap small objects from people's hands.

Tex taught me to spin the Lariat and I still have the rope he gave me to this day. When I was about eleven I was practising out in the street and a reporter from the long since defunct 'Brighton and Hove Gazette' drove by. He took a photograph of me in action, carried out a brief interview and the following week there I was prominent on the front page for all to see.

When we were very young Richard and I would go to bed at a certain time each evening. Often, of course, the time when we woud be most 'full of beans' and active would be at bed time. Gazing out over the wide expanse of back gardens and rears of houses was an interesting and often amusing experience for us both. There were a number of reasons for this not the least being our good friend Kay. Nearly every evening we three would liase with each other


(except when our respective parents found out) and no subject under the sun would escape the attention of our lively and wide ranging discourse.

Kay and her family were Jewish and her father managed the tailor's shop around the corner in Trafalgar Street. They came to The Rising Sun from time to time but not all that often. Life was good when we could be young and live every facet of our childhood to the absolute full. These were good times. I have very often wondered what ever became of our fellow explorer in the vast country of life.

I never knew Dad's parents. Mum's parents were two people who I loved very much and still miss even now. Their visits were always eagerly anticipated and going out to Hove to visit them on most weekends was a very real and precious treat. They lived in a large three story house which had witnessed the flowering childhood of Mum and her sister, my Aunty Gladys, who both attended the girl's school around the corner which is now a large block of flats.

Mum had a key to the house. When we visited we would quietly let ourselves in. The house was deep in calm and welcoming shadows. In the lounge armchairs stood at either side of the bay window and Grannie and Grandad would often be just rousing from sleep. There was always a warm greeting and a lovely smile from them both. I well remember the loud, deep and to me very moving chimes of the stately grandfather clock that stood tall and erect behind Grandad's chair. That house meant so very much to them as I know it did to Mum and Aunty Gladys.




Everyone from Gradad's family had Biblical names and, indeed, Grandad's name was Gabriel. I was to learn some years later that there had been an intention to call me Gabriel but, at the last minute, minds were changed and I was awarded Grandad's nickname which was 'George.' The backgraden looked onto a railway line and we all got remarkable used to the trains rushing by.

I remember a lot of hardship, poverty and perhaps inevitably crime. A little while after Granddad's death Grannie was the victim of a burglary and I can well recall how very distressed she was. A box with some personal items was stolen. Police eventually recovered the box, the items were never recovered and the criminals never caught.

I remember how crime was often prominent in the media and I remember the execution of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England very well. I can also remmeber two murders in the local area, the murderers were never caught.

Strands of the present reach far into the past. Crime was an ongoing issue yet then, as now what is really being done regarding the underlying issues. Even as a young boy, especially in the wake of the Ellis execution, I would often think about this. Well, as I draw this reminiscence to a close something Grandad said comes to mind “Our Georgie has a different brain from the rest of us, he will show us all.” People who know me and who read my writing will inevitable form their own conclusions.

George Coombs 1,136 words

Submitted: May 21, 2012

© Copyright 2021 Chiang Yee. All rights reserved.

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