Shooting an Elephant

Baulking the trend of preserving and promoting existing glories and unique original features, the interior of the Victorian-built Elephant & Castle pub on Westgate in Wakefield has been destroyed. They’ve done to it what Meg Ryan did to her face – fucked it up with an unnecessary makeover. My own disorientation, then disappointment and finally anger were about the only genuine things to be found in there since my last visit. The gas mantles, the smoked glass and the old bespoke tables have been dragged out and skipped. All the walls have been knocked down to impose one large unwelcoming space, and the bar – with its brass elephants and the name plaque to a dead regular – has been ripped out and shoddily re-fitted. It is now a nowhere place with wanky attempts at trendy/boutique décor done on the cheap using the Argos catalogue as an ideas base. Homogeneous, anonymous, empty. When I visited its hollowed out space was frequented by aggressive-looking men in their mid to late forties, with their shirts hanging out of shapeless jeans, their bodies packed out with anabolic steroids, online Viagra and full of domestic fury (displaying what’s known as the ‘fuck or fight’ response to modern life), and women of a similar age baiting their relationship hooks with fake tans and ostentatious décolletage. And the beer was shit as well.

The Victorian tiles on the exterior have been retained. For the time being. Who knows what they’ll do next? A neon cock and balls above the door, perhaps. They might as well. A sad and slightly horrifying place. Like Meg Ryan’s ridiculously vandalized face. Once again our cultural heritage has fallen foul of thick bastards.

Visited the evening of Saturday 5th March 2016