“This’ll be all right,” I tell Big A.
We leave our bowls bags in the car and saunter towards the pub. He has a doubtful expression on his face.
“Pint?” I enquire.
“I’ll follow you in,” he replies, indicating his cigarette.
I am unused to going to pubs that are not the Village Pub these days. I mean, I go elsewhere for luncheons and the like, but not for drinking. Having seven pints further afield and then driving home is a bit frowned upon, even if Gordon Brown and his meddling nanny government haven’t quite yet got round to banning that last particular pleasure we have.
I walk into the pub.
“WAAAAANKKKAAAAAHHHHHH!!!” is the noise emanating from the saloon bar. It is not aimed at me, just at the world at large. I blink, and order a Guinness.
Taking a look and listen around, I have walked into the family bar. It is the family bar because it is full of children running around being shouted at by their parents. I decide that it would be more hospitable to walk through to the other room.
“You CAHHHHHHHNNNNNTTT!!!!” explodes the other room. Big A enters, looking around doubtfully.
“I thought we’d stay and drink these in the family bar here,” I explain.
There is a whirl from beside me. A barmaid scoots in from the other room and hides behind the door, breathing heavily. A colleague hastens up to her and provides reassuring words, clasping her shoulders firmly.
“It sounds quite busy next door,” I ask the landlady.
“Just some high spirits,” she replies. I glance at my watch. It is 6.15pm.
I am thirsty, so I do not linger over my beer. We leave and wander over to the bowls green. The Village Pub provides a microcosm of the gritty reality of life in 21st Century Britain, I know – but I sometimes wonder whether I should expand my horizons a bit more just so I don’t get insular about the world around me. I would hate that to happen. In a way, it was quite nice going to a pub that was a bit more lively and had some young people in it.
Later on, I lie in bed watching roaches climb the wall. I do think of giving my dad a quick bell so that he can stop it all. But he is on holiday, in Cornwall.