Although I’d heard rumours, the official notification, when it arrived last week, was a shock.
Like any loss, the announcement that the Celtic Pub would be no more will take some getting used to.
Adjusting to life post-Celtic will not be easy.
When it comes to pubs, I’ve only ever had three true loves (if you don’t count the long-distance relationship with my granddad’s social club).
It is said that you never forget your first love, and that is certainly the case with the Manor, a sprawling suburban establishment that gave its youthful clientele their first intoxicating taste of pub life.
Ten years later, I fell for the more sophisticated charms of the Cameo in Leith. A stone’s throw from home, it had that eclectic blend of attributes I find so alluring in a pub – homeliness, character and spirit! [I visited the Cameo recently and was distressed to see how it had become a bland, bloated and soulless shadow of its former self.]
Finally, it was in Verona of all places that I fell in love again.
It’s difficult to explain that strange mixture of contentment, calmness and homecoming that overcame me that warm May afternoon when I finally crossed the unassuming threshold on via Santa Chiara. I experienced what can only be described as a moment of divine rapture.
The snug interior. The quirky blend of trinkets and wall-hangings. The astute attention to detail (like the hooks under the bar - always an indication of a well-run establishment).
The easy, relaxed ambience, the handful of amiable locals, the barman - efficient, convivial and welcoming. And finally, that first pint of Tennent’s Export Strength Lager. Mouthwatering!
Without realizing it, I had stumbled across what I’d been searching for since moving to Verona two years previously - community, friendship and somewhere to watch the football!
These days, I generally ply the quiet early evening shift. I call in a couple of times a week. I’m proud to call the Celtic Pub my local. Privileged to be considered a regular.
Of course, institutions like these don’t happen by accident. They take vision, passion and hard work to create and maintain. So Corrado’s decision to walk away after six years at the helm is a brave but painful one. One that will create a massive void in the lives of all those of us who have enjoyed his hospitality over the years.
This weekend, amongst music, laughter and tears, we’ll drink our final pints together in the Celtic Pub. Of course, there will be other pubs. But there will never be another Celtic Pub. Not for me. And not for those of us who drink there.
Cheers Corrado. Thanks for the memories! They’re gonna live forever.