Civilized, very. Are you still serving? We are sir. I like the sir bit, inspires confidence. Look at the blackboard. A pint of Old Empire. This is so civilised I say, the bar man smiles. It’s 11.50pm on a Thursday night in the Wetherspoons at Victoria. The beer is brought to me. Freshly pulled, sulphury, nice twang of bitterness. Just what I need at the end of the night. 12.20am. A man in the corner with a rucksack that suggests hostels and a long journey into the night sits in the corner, quietly musing over a beer. I leave having finished Joseph Roth’s White Cities, an account of the alcoholic writer’s dispatches from France. He was a socialist but strangely enough never got over the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire. I love him for his incisive interpretation of events happening in Germany in the 1930s but also because he was aware that the stories of those with whom he hung out with in bars were also worthy of history. And that is why sometimes I feel I should celebrate Spoons — it doesn’t always get it right but it does give a chance for the forgotten to have a decent beer.