Gabe and Clare live in the small Oxfordshire village of Beckley. Towards the end of 2016, the brewery which owned the Abingdon Arms, their local and hub of village life (That must be what they mean by pub hub, I imagine), threatened to close it down. The possibility of a buy out by the residents of Beckley was mooted and thus began a nationwide (if you count Macclesfield) campaign to raise the necessary cash in the very limited time available. The BACBS now owns and runs the pub. Success! Since we have a small share in this new venture, I wrote a little tribute to their efforts borrowing heavily on Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village”. (Thank goodness for English Lit. O-level! It came close to making me very nearly literate!)
The Preservèd Village
Sweet Beckley, loveliest village of the shire,
where working folk plan some day to retire,
where season follows season with a sport
though “Don’t be optimistic”, Life has taught,
where Oxford may be up, yet could go down,
Uniting all, though more town folk than gown.
Here, far from madding crowd or London’s pomp,
the locals stroll through fields where Spring lambs romp
and savour village Life at walking pace,
a stone’s throw from Brize Norton’s airfield base.
Bucolic idylls sadly face the threat
of sudden change if bottom line’s not met.
The village focal point, its vital hub,
its beating heart, its watering hole, the pub,
is central to a social unity
identifying each community.
is crucial for its daily Life to thrive,
the single means by which it can survive.
Thus, came to pass, despite its many charms,
the mooted closing of “Th’ Abingdon Arms”.
At once, a cry ran round that we must act.
Plans were conceived, unanimously backed.
The owners, Brakspeare, listened, but unmoved,
proposed a buy-out scheme and so it’s proved
a mettle-testing project for our ties.
How many would respond to rallying cries?
But first the legal niceties were done
(and everyone’s aware that that’s no fun).
The enterprise conceived was firstly named,
its constitution then agreed, once framed.
Its officers were volunteered or pressed
to pledge their time and energies invest.
Some readily stepped up to others coax
with mild coercion, repartee and jokes.
Appeals were issued to take out a share
with fingers crossed, breath held, a wing and prayer.
The deadline fast approached to raise the sum,
two days to go and 40 k to come.
Some miracle perhaps would intervene.
It did. Job done by midnight, Hallowe’en.
The rest, my friends, we celebrate tonight.
Our venture’s just beginning. Future’s bright.
Support your local with your kin and friends.
Thus it grows and prospers whilst my poem ends.