The Christmas decorations looked cosy and inviting here at the Queen, Winchester. They contrast particularly well with the warm dark hues of the rest of the pub after dark.
This painting is, as usual with me, about ambivalence. The pub isn’t busy at this time (it’s late afternoon) and the warmth of the decor – the twinkling lights, shining glasses and bottles – is somewhat at odds with the figures, who I saw as somewhat isolated and disconnected. These days I can visit a pub without wanting an alcoholic drink, but it wasn’t so easy in my past. To begin with, my solitary drinking gave me a sense of security. No one could see how anxious I was and, as I drank, I became suffused with a false sense of well-being. Prolonging this euphoria meant drinking more, drinking until I was drunk – and so the ghastly cycle went on until, with help, I stopped drinking for good.
If I go into a pub now, it will only be at quiet times. I find the elbow jostling, beer splashing hubbub of a busy pub as exciting as being on a train at rush hour. Christmas, whether at the Queen or anywhere else, is normally a time to avoid pubs.
Here are some other paintings from the brief time I lived in Winchester: Autumn light, Winchester College playing fields, Puddle at the Bus Stop, and St. Cross. Or if you like interiors here’s Limnerslease, home of G.F. Watts.