As you know, I go to the pub with my lovely boyfriend every Wednesday night for a late drink...we usually rendezvous around half tenish and have time of a couple of beers, talk rubbish ...and we observe our fellow drinkers...
We are what I suppose you could call 'regulars' ...having spent most Wednesday nights there for the last 4 years. There are several other regulars too. John, 84, gay, but in denial. Drinks 5 pints of directors in about 90 minutes and staggers out to get the last bus home. Is almost blind, a bit deaf and quite barmy. He hails from Cork, but has lived in the UK for nearly 60 years. Ex merchant navy and was a psychiatric nurse till he retired. He believes in a wizard conspiracy and is convinced that the masons are everywhere. Not a man to get into a conversation with if you are in any way stressed, tired or prone to funny handshakes. He follows the Simon Cowell school of trouser wearing.
Paul in another gay irish man, a generation younger and very different. He had his teeth veneered so that his partners could appreciate it a bit more as he gave them head - a comment he made to my very hetero boyfriend almost resulting in him loosing said veneers...too much information. Paul is a poperty developer with an entire workforce of young east european men. All very heterosexual, but all looking like the guys from The Village People. Shaven heads, masses of facial hair, chest wigs, checked shirts. Strange how the different cultures display their masculinity. Paul comes in at 10.48, orders, I kid you not, 4 double vodkas and redbull, once large bottle of Polish beer and a pint of lager. He drinks the lot and is out the door for another pub by 11.30. How he is not dead I really don't know.
A recent blow-in is a middle aged bloke we call the rhodesian ridgeback for some unfathomable reason. He spends the eveing talking to himself, very discreetly mind, at the bar. Nobody interferes or says a thing. He is allowed to be himself without condemnation or scorn. We are deadly curious about him, but avoid eye contact in case he engages us in conversation. We fear being trapped in a situation we would be too polite to get out of - remember we only have 30 minutes... We let him get on with it.
However, and this is where the pub get interesting...there are a vast number of people who drink there just once and never come back. Odd bods, mad builders, tinker types, very pissed middle aged women and welsh rugby supporters. I long to ask them what their story is and why here, why now, where next?
I love going to this pub. A pub like this is a great leveller. As long as you don't get too pissed or too loud and treat the staff, fellow drinkers and the bar with respect, anything goes. And for £4.09 for a pint and a glass of vino and 30minutes people watching, good value all round.