The Village Pub goes momentarily dark.

There is a man standing in the doorway. In fact he’s not standing, he’s looming. He blinks slightly before adjusting his loom and striding up to the bar.

“I come to do your security,” he booms from his loom. The accent is Russian, or Ukranian, or from one of the scarier –stans.

“My name is Igor,” he adds, with magnificent cliché.

The New Barman gazes up at him, flabbergasted. The man is built, if not exactly like a brick shithouse, like a shithouse of a particularly solid wooden-frame construction. He stares down at the New Barman querulously.

There is no indication as to whether he is making an offer or a threat. We do not have much experience of protection rackets here in the Village. Sizing the situation up, I decide that it would be better not to try to help. Short Tony and Big A seem to have the same idea, as does everybody else in the bar, and there is an immediate wave of shoe-studying.

“I’ll get the boss,” squeaks the New Barman.

The Well-Spoken Barman ambles through.

“I do your security,” our visitor repeats to him.

“Ah. I’m not sure we really need anybody on security,” replies the Well-spoken Barman in his disarmingly amiable way. “I don’t think. Do we?” he turns to us for some help.

“That is a particularly interesting shoe,” I say to Short Tony. “And so is that one.”

“Here,” demands the visitor. “On my piece of paper. It says ‘Village Pub.’”

“Ah. Well ‘Village Pub’ is quite a common name for a pub,” counters the Well-Spoken Barman with impressive bravery. “Look. ‘Village Pub, Wisbech’ it says.”

“Where is Wisbech?”

“In Cambridgeshire.”


The room dims once more as he steps out through the doorway. We resume our pints and are very careful not to even smile.