Musings From The Padded Cell

How I Found The Scruffy

This article is in the revamped Trumpit magazine which will be out early next week at various outlets around Idle and Thackley. Plus my mum will have loads too!

And the world of media shook at the prospect…

I’d always viewed the White Bear pub in Idle with a degree of fascination, a scruffy little outpost, perched on top of a hill overlooking the village, gazing out beyond.

It was the sort of place my Dad went to drink. Demonstrating a family lineage devoid of any great explorers, since leaving home all three of my houses have been dominated by the almost gravitational pull of the place.

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Like many villages that make up the sprawling mass of the Bradford Metropolitan District, Idle claims the name only loosely.

True we have a village green but I’ve never seen grass on it. And there is the horse trough, presumably for the local drunks to get a wash.

We have enough hairdressers to serve the British army and curry houses to feed Bangladesh. The pubs largely remain recession proof suggesting that alcoholics thrive.

The Bear was an early pioneer of twenty-four hour drinking. Not that a trendy café culture had arrived via a few rotting garden tables on a crumbling patio, but 24/7 living had come to Idle.

In those days the Bear was run by a lovely old Irish couple named Billy and Pat, both long since passed on in search of an nip or two of Jameson’s in the clouds.

Pat was a feisty little woman who ruled Billy with an iron rod, not that Billy seemed to notice as he was permanently pissed.

Each time Pat was out of eyesight he could be seen having a secretive nip but she always caught him out and some of the bollockings he got were comical although he was rarely deterred.

White Bear

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Whether Billy should have been driving towards the end of his tenure at the Bear is also a matter of doubt and not just down to his blood being close to neat alcohol.

Billy’s eyesight was not great, so trips out in his Mini Metro were always fraught with danger although mainly for other motorists.

Outside the pub is a very busy cross-roads and Billy had a unique approach to crossing this to negotiate the drop down into the village. Basically he just revved hard and attacked it like a ski jumper, oblivious to oncoming traffic from either side or coming up the hill.

In effect, he was Idle’s first suicide bomber; cars would screech to a halt and pedestrians would duck out of the way as Billy, free from Pat and a huge grin all over his face courtesy of Jameson’s, flew off down the hill.

Billy was equally unconcerned as to the concept of Licensing Laws. This was well before Tony Blair bent over for the drinks industry under the ruse of giving us all twenty-four hour drinking and conveniently ignoring the gradual transformation of town centres into war zones.

Billy was ahead of his time and so it was that we discovered that the Bear was “Open All Hours” as long as you made it in the door by 11pm.

Most pubs rang a bell to signify last orders but there was no need. Indeed, soon after Billy and Pat had left the Bear, the new landlady rang the bell for last orders only to shock the whole pub.

Many thought it was simply an ornament having never heard it ring at all, some thought its only use was for Pat to batter Billy with and the older ones thought it was an air raid warning.

There were times we left the Bear so late we may as well have stayed for breakfast. And some clearly did.

By this time our football team had relocated to our favourite watering hole. One Sunday morning, when a game was called off early, I popped down to the Bear around 9am to tell Pat not to bother with the culinary fare of the day only to be amazed to find the pub full.

The local Watmoughs night shift were enjoying morning beers. Truly this was continental drinking at its finest and the Bear was busier than a Friday night in Paris; Bradford was again leading the way in European culture.

Billy and Pat have long since left us with great memories but the pub remains in rude health. A few years ago, in the fondest way possible, I renamed it The Scruffy.

The name has stuck as has the affection so many great characters still have for this wonderful pub. I hope you enjoy Tales From The Scruffy coming up in future editions and the vast array of inmates that frequent it.

By local artist John Trueman

In fondest memory of Billy and Pat.

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