Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeCOVID-19Breaking bread at The Wheatsheaf

Breaking bread at The Wheatsheaf


WRITING about going for a pub lunch is something I never thought I would do. But these dystopian Covid days have brought that about.

My recent experience at The Wheatsheaf in the village of Beetham in south Cumbria was a morale boost for three reasons.

First, it was good not to be interrogated at the door. The waitress took my name and phone number for Covid tracing once I was seated at a table and relaxing with a drink. At other pubs I have been to in Lancashire and Cumbria since they re-opened in July, being Covid-traced on the door somehow makes me feel that I am doing something wrong by coming in at all.

The Wheatsheaf management are doing everything necessary to make their pub Covid-safe. But that bit of lateral thinking in complying with the regulations made such a psychological difference.  The present restrictions on personal liberty imposed by the Government are bound to affect individuals differently but for what it is worth that was my subjective experience.

Despite the demoralising effect, I comply with the rules, including wearing a face mask – which in April the Government declared did not make a great deal of difference to the spread of Coronavirus –  in shops and at church. But I do this reminding myself that I have a civic duty not to vote Conservative at the next General Election (assuming the Government does not try to cancel it on health and safety grounds).

The second morale-boosting thing about The Wheatsheaf was that the staff were so friendly. They seemed genuinely pleased to see customers in their pub. In our socially-distanced, faced-covered society, it was such a blessing not to be made to feel that my very presence was a threat to other people’s health and safety.

Thirdly, there was a varied menu and the portion was generous. I had roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and potatoes, with a gravy boat and a separate dish of vegetables, for about £11. There is something of a Communist Eastern European feel about the reduced menus and smaller portions in British pubs recently.

It might be an idea to suggest to the elders of the evangelical church my wife and I attend in Morecambe that a group of us, in our respective households, go to The Wheatsheaf for a meal and ask the management whether in the course of it we could celebrate the Lord’s Supper together at our tables. Since March, the Government has forbidden British churches from celebrating this central Christian rite in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death for the sins of the world.

Surely there would be nothing illegal about taking bread and wine together accompanied by a reading from the Bible in a pub provided we followed the regulations?

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Heysham, Lancashire.

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