Monday, 23 March 2009
Sussex Pale Ale please. And that will be £2.80 says the woman with the impeccable Bermondsey accent. Sailing and sea-going reminiscences are washing over the table to the right to me (as well as memories of beers drank — ‘a boiler is a brown and bitter’ asserts one of the crew), while in the corner by the bar a chap with a face that has seen better days is on his second bottle of wine (shared with a friend) as he excites himself about a coming trip to Argentina; ‘this is the best restaurant in London,’ he says to a man at the bar, who lifts up his glass and says ‘who needs food when you have this’. I once heard something similar in the west of Ireland. All laugh. A man with a pint sits in his shirtsleeves to the left of me — he looks like he’s marking sheets of paper covered with blue ink scrawls. He’s on his second pint. While in the opposite corner another man, his lunch finished, takes his time to digest the news in his broadsheet. His pint, two-thirds gone, stands on the table before him, next to a plate with leftover salad and a crumpled napkin on top. The sun’s lunchtime rays brightens up the pub as it streams in through the big clear glass windows, warmth on the back of the neck. I see my glass is empty. Time to try the Armada with its fruity fragrant nose. The Royal Oak, Borough. Pub time, the beer is perfect, conviviality and industry co-exist — this is a pub and this is what some people are trying to do away with. Why? It makes no sense.