On Sunday night the Cadeleigh Arms closed forever. It was a small, unassuming back-street boozer, and it was also my local. Despite all of the people who never went there telling you it closed because it wasn’t welcoming enough or the regulars were pissed-up sad cases, it was a nice, bright, working class pub and you could not have found a more friendly pair of proprietors than Diarmuid and Mary.
Though the bulk of the Cadeleigh’s clientele was plumbers and electricians, you could also find architects and IT specialists and guidance counsellors, even the odd web developer. I made friends in there, I knew the staff by name, I could guarantee going in there and finding someone to talk to. Good luck with that in most places.
On Sunday there was a party to close the place down. There were speeches and dancing and tears and free booze; it was still going on when I rolled home at 3am. That night I met an old man who told me he’d been going there for 50 years, and his best friend for 40. They were Carribean immigrants who’d found a welcoming place in London. The Cadeleigh was always more mixed than many places; there were Sikhs, Africans, Carribeans, Polish… apparently many years ago, before Diarmuid and Mary, it was a reggae pub!
But sadly the night of the party was the busiest it had been for many years. Four years ago I used to have to arrive half an hour before the football started in order to get a seat. No chance of that any more. The mostly working class punters are hit harder than most by price increases, and even though they kept prices cheaper than many London pubs, £3 for a pint is only a pound cheaper than a pack of four from Tesco.
It was a very fast decline; for the last two years only the rent from the flats above it had been keeping the pub afloat. And now, it’s gone. So I’d like to raise a glass to Diarmuid and Mary and their family, and to all the regulars of the Cadeleigh, and say goodbye to a little corner of old London.