Called in for a lunch-time drink at the Ring O'Bells in Halifax yesterday. Sat in that old eighteenth century inn - there is said to have been an inn on the site from the fifteenth century - enjoying a pint of Barnsley Bitter and leisurely reading the morning paper I felt at peace with the world.
The Ring O'Bells stands at the gate of what used to be Halifax Parish Church and is now Halifax Minister (how it received its ecclesiastical promotion, I know not). The current building, which was originally known as the Sign Of The Church, dates from 1720. Until the last century it formed part of a ramshackle collection of tenements and back-to-back houses, but redevelopment stripped it of its neighbours and left it with a rather inside-out look to it. It is supposed to have a resident ghost called Walt or Wally, but I saw no sign of him unless it was that odd chap with a Tesco bag full of old rags sat at the end of my table. The West Yorkshire Paranormal Group did an investigation of the ghost last year and conducted an extensive interview with him, but if you believe that you will believe that Anheuser-Busch brew a decent pint of beer.
My feeling of being at peace with the world was slightly disturbed when I started reading the quotations and homilies pinned to the walls. These were hand-written on blackboards and designed to increase the ambiance and feel-good factor. One, for example, stated "Reality is an illusion caused by a lack of alcohol", which was mildly amusing but hardly original. Another stated "When I read about the dangers of drinking I gave up reading". It was the third notice which caused me to drink up my pint rather quickly and make a swift exit. The signs were written in a kind of mock handwriting and it wasn't always possible to distinguish individual letters. In particular, it was all too easy to confuse a "w" for a "ur". The off-putting sign declared (I think) "I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food".