“Are you staying for one more?” asks the Very Well Spoken Barman.
I ponder this, from the comforting womb of my barstool. It is getting late, and I suspect that it is best not to.
Short Tony is at home, with the lurgee. Big A has long-departed, as has Len the Fish. Eddie stayed for a couple, there has been no sighting of John Twonil. “Nonononono,” I say, shaking my head with some resolve.
The thing about going to the Village Pub is that it goes through stages. At the beginning, it is childishly exciting to be there, with all new people to say ‘hullo’ to and the sense that anything might happen. Then you settle down into a nice routine, and there is a long, comfortable period whilst you savour the environment. And then it begins to get late.
I peer through to the other bar. There is hardly anybody left in there: an old geezer sat in the corner; a lady from the boaty set. It is probably time to go. At least I have kept my dignity and not embarrassed myself at all.
“Not having another Cinzano and lemonade?” asks the Very Well Spoken Barman.
I consider the bottle that he is waving at me. But knowing when to go home is something that I am very good at, like coming up with clever metaphors. Deep breath.
“No. It really, really is time to go,” I reply.
The sky is utterly clear when I leave; the stars and moon look down upon me, magnificent in their celestial twinkliness. I pause before crossing the road. No, it really, really is time to go home. Pulling my jacket around me, I turn my back to the Village Pub’s warm lights and start the short walk down the hill to the Cottage.