What a shame. The past seven days have thrown up more blog fodder than usual as the hapless pilots of our land have steered us into Pastygate, Granny Taxgrab, a phantom fuel crisis and the splendidly-monikered Peter Cruddas taking bungs for No.10 access. But, if you will forgive me, this week I’d like to focus on something a little closer to home. The ill-conceived, boozed-up tripe you have come to know and love will be back next week: You have my word.
Very sadly, friday saw the last day of trading at Idle Hour Barons Court. It was a day I know Nibs was dreading, not merely because it was the end of an era, but also because all the hope, energy and love he put into making it look and feel so special was scythed down into administration, arbitration and all those other things beginning with ‘a’ that, by their very nature, are the polar opposite of soul. And, let’s face it, soul is what you need in spades to get these things off the ground in the first place.
I’m feeling for my little bro right now. In the ’90’s I watched him blossom after a prolonged training period in America, where he learned the hard way how to marry personable service with efficiency. After a few minor hiccups over here he poured everything he had into Idle Hour Barnes, which he turned around from being a grimy backwatering hole to a much-loved local hub. And despite fierce competition (never a bad thing actually, sharpens the resolve) it remains more popular than ever to this day. Not one to rest on his laurels, he branched out on more than one occasion: Putney, Henley-on-Thames and finally Barons Court. All way better than your average gastropub but the problem they shared is that there is only one Nibs. I’m trying not to be mawkish here but the facts speak for themselves: Dilute the talent and the most remote suffers. It’s a brutal truth, made worse when you consider the human cost of loyal staff, goodwill of investors etc.etc..
So, now he’s back down to what he does best under one roof and my gut tells me it will soar. As you may have read elsewhere in this shower of drivel, there will be an extension in place by the end of the summer, a spanking new website, some stunning new wines on offer and, best of all, he’ll be there to give it 100%. And, on a more personal level: Hang in there, bro. You’ll bounce back, you always do. And I’ll keep on writing the bollocks. It’s what I do.
Goodbye Barons Court. You were a magnificent ideal. You had the courage to aim for the stars against all the odds and in your short time you gave a lot of people something to remember. And like so many of the great romantics you died beautiful and you died young. Now, upwards and onwards…