A Brief Scene In A London Pub
Sometimes you have to see your over-familiar surroundings through the eyes of a visitor to realise how strange the world is.
The Canadian* has been visiting, and requires gentlemen’s refreshment, so we head to a local pub, the King Charles 1 in King’s Cross. The pub is always either packed or closed, according to some mysterious timetable that Ben the owner keeps in his head. Tonight is packed, and for some reason what appears to be a stuffed moose head or possible the top half of a deformed donkey is lying on the bar billiards table. Ben is attempting to attach it on the wall in place of a barometer, ‘from where it can gaze across to the gazelle opposite with a loving look in its eyes’ explains Ben.
While supping our beers, a man reaches past my companion for a giant, well-thumbed volume. ‘Let me pass you the telephone directory’, I offer. ‘No mate,’ he replies, ‘this is the pub dictionary. It gets a lot more use here than a telephone book.’ The volume comes out several times in the course of an argumentative evening.
Visit the pub alone and you will remain so for only a few minutes before being coerced into a conversation that requires you a/ to provide esoteric knowledge and b/ to take a side, which you may have to vigorously defend. That’s what a proper pub is for, isn’t it?
*This being Mr Ian Alexander Martin of Atomic Fez Books, the famed purveyors of fantastical novels in the vein of Douglas Adams and Jasper Forde. Visit his site and buy books here.