I didn’t make any notes (well, there were mental notes that I forgot before leaving the house) regarding the opening times of pubs in Melksham except that I knew at least one opened at 10:30 and another at 11. I soon found that none of the ones I spotted on the trot in from Semington were these.
Arriving at the King’s Arms, which was signposted as opening at 11, I found the doors locked (of course…it was 10 minutes till) and was confronted by a thin, middle-aged bloke with the needy smile of a Christian zealot. Obviously, he must have thought, this underdressed man sweating in the rain needs my help and to be saved from eternal damnation; “are you alright, there, sir?” he asked and offered in the same breath. “Atheist, here,” I corrected more politely than I am usually capable; “not in the market for fairy tales.” Taken aback, he quickly asked, “how…how did you know?” Pointing with a wiggly forefinger at his face with its needy eyes and practised rictus and his tidy and casual but unmistakeable suburban missionary’s garb, “what else would cause, you know, this?” I thought a quick trot around the town would be in order and I could stop back by when the God-botherer found more fertile ground to plow.
Five minutes and half a mile passed and I was ready to head back when I spotted the Bear with a key bit of information: it is a Wetherspoon so the bar had been serving since 8 or 9 am. Ideal.
Inside, I chatted with the very pleasant bar manager about the run I was on and the beer that I ordered. I could easily have leaned on the bar and talked to her for a couple of rounds but thought it prudent to stick to just one and found a table in the busy and very modern interior of this mock Tudor inn. The sun emerged as I was considering a second and I decided to go find a fish and chip shop that might be open (although the first I got to didn’t open until 11:30, and the second at 11:45…ten minutes early for each of them, a theme that I only realised on the bus ride home).