We walked down to the pub last night at our usual sort of time, just after ten. People think we’re strange going so late, but I guess it’s something I’ve always done. When I was a student we would do our work in the evening, and then if we had enough money we might go to the pub for the last half hour. In those days pubs close at 10:30, 10:00 on Sundays; in those days pubs opened at about 11:00 in the morning, closed for the afternoon and would then open again at 5 or 6, not all day as it is now.
When I started work as a teacher, I always had homework – probably more than the kids I taught, so after dinner, school work, and maybe, a couple of times a week, we might go to the pub, for the last half hour of opening time. Now I no longer have paid work, I work as a writer and so a couple of times a week, we might if we fancy it, wander the few hundred yards to the Dolphin. We always go on a Tuesday for quiz night, and we usually go on Sunday evening to meet up with friends, but sometimes we go down on another night too.
We go in the first door we come to which leads into a small bar with tables and bank seats along the wall beneath the windows. There was a group of people at the bar, and people sitting at the tables so we turned right into the middle bar. I went to the bar and my husband sat at one of the three tables. Along beside him were a group of three women with a wine bucket on the table, having a loud and laughter-filled conversation about cousins and weddings and fallings-out in families. Beside me at the bar were three people in their thirties who were just finishing their drinks before heading into town to go to a club. Beyond them were three incredibly loud laughing women, having a hilarious time. beyond them was a group of men and women just talking stuff and enjoying each other’s company. In the other bar at the end were rowdy voices and loud laughter, shouts and singing.
Beer bought I sat down and we tried a packet of crisps I’d got, roast turkey and stuffing flavoured, which actually tasted of roast turkey and stuffing… in an artificial flavoured crisp sort of way. At times it was difficult to hear our own conversation because the two groups of women were so enjoying themselves and so loud.
A friend Terry came in and perched on a stool at the bar, and another man arrived with a huge boxer dog which got a lot of attention from the women at the bar. The man joined Terry and they were obviously talking about knees because Terry rolled up his trousers to show the man the scars on his legs were he’d had new knees a couple of years ago.
All this while people were coming and going, arriving and departing and moving from one bar to another, and the young people behind the bar were working away pulling pints,pouring wine, getting other drinks, clearing glasses, busy, busy on a Friday night.
We got drawn into conversation with Terry and the man with the boxer, talking about music, and bands we had seen, rock legends we had rocked to live, clubs and discos. Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Tracy Chapman… We talked about all sorts of things, and then time called, drinks drunk, we said cheerio and wandered home… I came back to my writing, my husband watched some music on TV… A fairly typical Friday night really…