We shouldn’t forget The Victoria pub

The shopping centre of Clitheroe around the Market Place is undergoing a retail regeneration, with new retail companies moving in including clothes chain Fat Face.'President of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade Tony Gould in the Market Place.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'2-12-2014

The shopping centre of Clitheroe around the Market Place is undergoing a retail regeneration, with new retail companies moving in including clothes chain Fat Face.'President of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade Tony Gould in the Market Place. PIC BY ROB LOCK'2-12-2014

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I write in response to the fawning headline piece “Fat Face clothes store ready to open in Clitheroe” and wish to express dismay and not a small measure of dejection at the rapidity with which the people of this town seem to have erased from their minds their memories of the Victoria pub formerly on the site.

Truly, the Advertiser and Times glossing over of history here is comparable only to Winston Smith’s exploits with the Memory Hole in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – and we all know what happened to him. The rats! Oh dear!

I welcome with arms open, legs akimbo, Deerstalker hat cocked slightly leftward, left eye winking, both fists clenched in a double thumbs-up, a flirty left eyebrow raised and pelvis thrust non-threateningly forward the news that a Fat Face is opening.

In this age of change, somebody once sang, you need strong pockets, and though as a male I find clothes burdensome and unnecessary I appreciate birds like this sort of thing, so fair enough.

I must also express my delight a store with a name which, delivered with enough venom at the appropriate target, could actually pass as a quite stinging insult, is back on Clitheroe’s promenade since Dick’s Cobblers closed in the nineties.

I just wish this hadn’t come at such a great cost.

Affectionately abbreviated by regulars to simply “The”, I can’t and actively don’t want to tell you the number of evenings I whiled away trading tall tales for fresh pints of mild and black – the actual number would probably require at least an entire A4 page to display given the Advertiser’s font size, at The Victoria pub.

The music, the company, the ambience, the interior design, the selection of drinks, the prices, the staff, the memories. In spite of all these things I still remember the place fondly.

Sure, they could have been a little more vigilant when serving 15-year-olds, but who are we to judge?

Speaking as an erstwhile 15-year-old, if I wasn’t drinking in The Vic I would have been stealing turpentine from people’s sheds, siphoning petrol from police cars or brewing it myself using whatever yeast and barley I could get my hooves on – and that is a fact.

This is why I was so saddened to see the hanging portrait of our Fat Faced Queen Victoria being painted over with the Fat Face colours – a sort of redless, Godless purple - instead of being taken down and preserved in amber in one of our museums.

You wouldn’t even know the Vic was ever there. And it definitely was.

There are loads of people who will vouch for that.

The ease with which we forget, like forgetting we were ever at War with Eurasia, reminds me of Winston’s half-remembered poem – “Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold Fat Face clothes”.

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