The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang By Patrick Henry Next Page
The Hole-in-the-Wall is a pub found in Scarborough's Vernon Road, a steep hill linking the town centre almost to the sea-front and the Spa, and in the lower half of the street is almost the only building but for the quaint Rotunda museum. Otherwise only blank tall walls rise, holding up gardens and terrace-housing high beyond. Once the arterial route to Filey, until the Valley Bridge was developed, this thoroughfare gave its name to the pub, formerly New Road Inn, then changing to Vernon Road.
I grew up in a house in the area and later became a regular at the pub, now called The Hole. Previously small and gloomy, then absorbing adjacent obscure gift-shops it became larger and still gloomy. The inn-sign now shows the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke to stop the sea-floods.
The pub emerged as a refuge for those not fitting in with modernisation of other town premises. My father, a seaman along this coast since 1916, had introduced me to many old pubs and characters over time. Now that he and all of they had gone, a new crop of odd figures accrued, and The Hole was the only place, the menagerie to hold them all.
Richard Pearson ran the place, with his wife Ann, for twenty years until 2002. Well-read and educated with an eye for the learned as well as an ear for the characterful and outlandish, he cultivated a bizarre mixture of customers that could have replicated a picaresque scene from Shakespearean drama. Richard was a libertarian, a gentle, courteous dissenter who never cursed one word or person, even when physically ejecting those behaving badly beyond the pale of this place of few limits.
All shades of individuals and groups were welcome here, if not overriding the general company. Three small bars allowed for diverse activities. I took part in recitations on National Poetry Day. The Folk Music Club played weekly. A Blues session on Sundays collected admission fees for Labour party funds. Later on The Socialist Workers Party met, selling off their last few issues left over from their town-centre street-stall.
The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang continued By Patrick Henry
The black leather motorbike brigade were not quite Hell's Angels, but the town's Motorcycle Action Group, pressing for understanding with other motorists and factions. Once a year they had guest easy riders from all over, circling the town in hundreds like a Red Square parade. At other times local bikers murmured in The Hole's corners, sipping coke and playing darts.
The pub was in no such league and had no other sports features, tv. or juke-box. The Campaign for Real Ale Committee met here, where their kind of drink flowed, much also to the liking of Young Conservative delegates at their Spa conference, forsaking those waters to head here at break times.
But the pub was mostly for individuals disdaining societies that might hold members like themselves. Asked if he belonged to The Licensed Victuallers Association, Richard said most certainly not. Its gatherings seen in press photos at top hotels feature ball-gowns, lounge suits, gold chains and awards. Is it crypto-Masonic or just a businesman's enclave? Town councillors and ex-rugby professionals or military veterans loom often as pub landlords. Formerly I used their premises, but the blue-rinsed, flock-wallpaper, soul-musak, pool-league, keg-smooth pints syndrome drove me out, more than the perennial reactionary and racist prejudices, which I might have stomached longer for the curiosity value.
Scarborough had been Right-Wing patriotic ever since Cromwell took a year to winkle out Royalists from the besieged castle in 1645, or since they failed to support The Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion against Henry V111 in 1536. Here, even the poverty-stricken voted Conservative, sending vacuous, well-bred goofs to Westminster. In the 1990s Labour gained a council majority and then the Parliamentary seat, the shock-wave meant that the smelling salts got passed from Regency-terraced South Cliff and stockbroker-belt Scalby Road down to surly loyalist workers at the fish docks.
Last week the humdrum of everyday life was getting me down; I needed a pick-me-up, a rush - but where exactly do today's rebellious teena...20 somethings go to get their kicks? A piercing and tattoo shop? Surely not?
It'd been a week since I'd been gearing myself up for this, the time it had taken to find a willing victim, I mean friend, to take with me to hold my hand, so to speak while I pay..
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