Today: shock, relief, sadness, worry... as the news hit that Rileys is closing. Shock, as I had no idea they were in trouble. Relief, as our much-beloved Loughborough branch is staying open. Sadness, as I found that Lancaster is gone. And worry, because the one that matters to me could be next.
Weirdly, I'd never been to Rileys in Lancaster. I say weirdly, because I like playing pool, and because when I go home we practically live there. And yet, somehow I never went to the one here -- I think it must be to do with the people I go with, and the different circles I move in up here (ie currently none) compared to home. So I can't say I'm going to miss it, but I'm sad that the opportunity has gone.
I think we started going to Rileys not as a conscious decision, so much as through a gradual gravitation. At first, we simply played pool in the pubs like normal teenagers. Then, when the tables hiked their prices, we started going further afield. When we started staying out later, we started looking for places that would let us carry on chatting and playing games, rather than dancing in a loud sweaty pit. Food and pool came to be a greater attraction than alcohol, once the initial novelty wore off and people stopped trying desperately to pair off.
I don't go down that end of the country much nowadays, and haven't had a good game of pool in far too long, but it's reassuring to know that there's still a friendly place I can go, a little haven where you can still relax with coffee and curly fries, good friends and a good game or two. I just hope it's still there next time I get the chance to visit.