Sometimes you go back to a place you haven’t been in a while and there is either the wonder of new discoveries about a once familiar place or the comforting, nostalgic embrace of a location unchanged. Sometimes the new discoveries are not so wonderful; they’re just depressingly indicative of the danger of dullard homogeneity lurking at the edges of all culture.
As I recall it from about a decade ago The Hour Glass in Exeter was a quite vibrant and thus fairly cramped little bar at the opposite end of the city with an excellent chef and some lovely spirits stacked up behind the bar all merrily imploring me to destroy some of my brain cells with them. It was also a decent location for a Sunday lunch. It no longer is.
Whether the chef remains the same or not I did not bother to ask. The food was ok but overpriced and over burdened with the sort of TV-chef induced artsy wankery that assumes human taste buds are never happier than when assaulted by just too many conflicting flavours, I’ve had better, way less pretentious Sunday lunches at a third of the price in bog standard, huge screen sporty bars, to be perfectly honest.
I was driving so a half of beer was the only alcohol likely to beseech me to imbibe it. Wanky, up its own arse beer from a rust coloured can that had more in common consistency-wise with soup than with beer. Which I only discovered once the can had been opened and a similarly rust coloured slew of too thick beer slopped out into my glass. I barely drank half of it.
And the patrons almost sapped whatever will I had left to live. In my days of hanging out there more frequently The Hour Glass was the preserve of postgrads, young couples, some interesting locals and a few folk looking for a suitably quirky location to pass their small book club evenings. Maybe some of those folk still frequent the place, maybe I was just astonishingly unlucky to share the pub with witless Pids.
You don’t know what Pids are? That’s because I’ve invented the term, an all inclusive expletive to define these insiPid, vaPid, stuPid characters who are increasingly hipsterising this quaint little city. Two rugby boys on tour with less substance to their conversation than hair product in their manbags. A family of creepily all-alike chinless fucks talking round and round the same two anecdotes without once seeming to notice how repetitive and bland their mouths were. A dandified Belgian explains the rules of Charades to a young English woman who seemed incapable of preventing herself from narrating her every single thought and action. A middle-ages couple in virtually twinned outfits posting their smug-hearted review of their own lunch to PidAsvisor while still eating the fucking meal.
Oh and the barman/owner was an aloof, priggish type with an astonishingly powerful superiority complex fuelling his apparent disdain for people like me who don’t seem to fit with his ideal of perfect clientele. I recognised him so I guess that is one thing that hasn’t changed in ten years.
Needless to say it’s unlikely I’ll be recommending the place to anyone or returning in a hurry. As if the Pids will care.