When John Granger finally returned to his natural habitat; behind the bar of the Hangman’s Noose, Lower Strangling’s signature pub, he was a lot more worried than he thought he’d be.
The thought of the new pervasive variant of COVID found in India that was rapidly spreading through England was at the front of his mind.
He was happy to be back, and it was nice seeing everyone happy and hugging friends and family after a year and a bit away, but he was secretly praying that none of them were carrying the new variant, as that could result in the pub being shut yet again. Something he wanted to avoid.
John’s friends Bruce, Robert, and Paul were back in front of the bar for the first time in over six months. Each had a glass of Throckmorton Ale, the village’s signature beer.
“It’s good to be back, isn’t it?” Robert said to John.
“Yes, at least so far it’s not been as much of a disaster as our first day outside,” John said.
“Yeah. Thank goodness the Queen hasn’t followed her husband yet, God rest his soul.“ Paul said.
“Yes. I’ll have to do something slightly more subtle when that happens.” John said.
“You can’t give the Duke of Edinburgh a bigger fanfare than the Queen!” Robert said.
“I can and will if it avoids a similar fiasco to what happened when Philip died,” John said.
“Suit yourself.” Robert said.
John sighed as he looked on at the scenes of happy customers in the pub.
“The thing I’m worried about the most is this new variant which could derail everything if we’re not careful.” John said.
“You’re not worried about that, are you?” Bruce asked. “I’m sure it will be fine. We’re mostly fully vaccinated. If there is a delay, it will only be a week or so.”
Bruce took another sip of his beer.
“But all it would take would be for one of these people here hugging to pass on the variant and we’ll end up with similar scenes to India, and then I’ll have to shut up shop again. Something I don’t want to do.” John said.
“Relax, mate.” Bruce said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, just enjoy being back behind the bar.”
“I’ll try to,” John said, as he poured himself another Throckmorton Ale.
Just then, Simon entered the pub and sat next to Paul.
“Morning, Simon.” John said.
“Throckmorton Ale, please, John.” Simon said.
“One Throckmorton Ale coming up.” John said as he poured Simon a pint.
Simon looked around the pub.
“This is nice, isn’t it?” Simon said. “It’s almost as if the past fourteen months never happened.”
“If only.” John said, as he gave Simon his beer.
“I see no one is taking any notice of you, Reverend.” Bruce said.
“No, it seems that everyone has moved on from the video of me telling a Tory voter that they were going to hell and have moved onto the next viral hit,” Simon said before drinking his ale.
“Hopefully not the new COVID variant,” John added.
“Oh yeah, no.” Simon said.
“Well, the pub is now back and running, all our businesses are booming, and we still have a Labour councillor. The only way is up.” Paul added.
“Well, our ward is a very small minority in a Tory run council.” Robert said.
“Yes. But there’s still 2024,” Paul said.
“I suppose,” Robert replied.
The rest of the day went off without a hitch. People met their friends and family for the first time in months, and many enjoyed their lunch. Plus there was no political fracas. All in all it was a good day.
Yes, John thought before he went to bed that evening, the Hangman’s Noose was back in action.
So long as the new COVID variant doesn’t have it’s way.