Where Les existed

Delivering Les

Found this photo. An important find. So, from the beginning…

I wrote Les The Punter as a poem first, before the short screenplay. This picture is the pub – The Sportsman – where Les really existed. Until his demise of course. I went back (that’s me standing) to pin a laminated copy of the poem to the wall where Les used to sit, on my right beneath the TV.

On Saturday afternoons the pub was full of racing enthuisiasts and our bets were placed by the landlord via phone to Austin Wilkins, a local bookmaker.

The bar is as small as it looks, perhaps seating 40 with a further 20 standing on a busy night. Brian and his crew, including me, sat to my left where, just out of shot, there’s bench seating facing the TV. The bar is to my left and behind. Ashtrays on tables will give an indication of the date of this shot although I’m sure not too much attention was ever paid to legislation.

I remember the bar had a stone floor but it turned out that the landlord’s son was a carpet fitter and so we had carpet. And then we had carpet up the walls. He couldn’t stop.

Being an end of terrace pub there was a back room where parents took their children, a lounge which was more of a snug for those courting or being posh for a night (it seated no more than 10) and a serving hatch for off licence sales.

The smoking ban and corporatisation is killing most communal pubs but I believe The Sportsman is still alive. I drove past it only the other day and its front door was open.

Inside? Perhaps the ghost of Les and echos and shadows of horse racing and punting. And, who knows, maybe my poem is still on the wall.