My late partner liked his beer, we travelled the length and breath of England, through city, town and country and I patiently sat watching and listening, as sober as a judge, while he merrily exceeded any limit of sobriety. I was always left to play the chauffeur and get him safely home. Thankfully there was many a time that we ended the day en-route for home, at the Bells of Lower Peover and it was there that I found such friendliness toward myself sitting quietly, believing myself unobserved, and enduring the ebullience of middle class men as they discussed the big issues of the day. Mostly football, rugby, cricket, horse racing or the standard of TV sport commentators.
But at the Bells there would always be at least mine host who would walk over and have a few friendly words, who would ask if I wanted a cup of tea rather than just another orange juice, sometimes the tea came with a biscuit.
Yesterday, twenty years later, I revisited the Bells at Lower Peover, this time meeting friends and having a lovely meal. I felt that same friendliness and warmth of service. For a few moments I missed the former host, until I found the new, younger and equally as generous, mine host and his great staff. We stayed nearly three hours and enjoyed the excellent service and discreet friendliness of mine host and all of the staff. Apparently the wine was excellent, but I was as always the sober one!
Then I knew why I had almost subconsciously used The Bells of Lower Peover as the pinpointed centre of all my DCI Teasdale stories. It is where Teasdale goes for that pint of English beer with his mate the Chief Superintendent. It is that peaceful pub where every Sunday they go for a drink and sort out their problems, in the summer, sitting in the garden, looking at the village church, in the winter cosy and warm amidst friendly neighbours.
Yes, it is my favourite pub in all of England, I care not what others believe. It pinpoints the centre of my imagination when planning a new story. Thank you Neil, for a lovely day, it was not about the beer, but the service, the warmth and the friendliness that The Bells still exudes so quietly and so generously to all comers.