Do you have to walk with a stick to be allowed in here?” asked a newcomer to our Great Marton local, staring into its fire-lit sitting room.
It’s true, many lounging there do have a stout stick propped beside their table.
If you’re driving along Whitegate Drive you might also spot its regulars - passing over a pelican crossing, trusty stick in hand, on the well-worn route between pub and bookies.
Of course, it’s not compulsory to carry a stick to enter the old inn’s back room (the front is used by diners and the bar by rained-off or semi-retired builders). However, it probably helps if you at least limp slightly which, thanks to arthritis, makes me qualify these days.
I used to call those gathered there ‘the men in grey cardigans’, but these days they’re in woolly jumpers or leather jackets.
Basically, these wise ones are wary of anyone moving quickly – always a dangerous sign. Best to think carefully before you move, or speak for that matter - though, sadly, there are many who don’t.
“At least, now I’m older, girls always smile at me when passing in the street,” said one newly retired regular.
“Even better when you have a stick!” a veteran told him. “They’re all over you then, can’t do enough to help.”
Others agreed and, for the first time, the thought of such impediment took on a certain attraction. In fact, I always enjoyed walking with a stick in country lanes and rather fancied one of those Victorian sword-sticks – in case of trouble from fast-moving ne’er do wells.
“Good for defending y’self too,” confirmed an old timer, “and poking ‘em in’t chest – to make a point!”
So there you are, every cloud as they say . . . but, no, don’t get me on to umbrellas!
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