Jamie Oliver, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper; everything starts with fried rashers of smoky bacon. And forget that last sentence; I’ve been to the perfect pub. A hallowed ground of old jokers minding their own and cheap pints of booze I’ve never tried before. Guinness at two quid and thingy at even less, and no young people standing around dancing. The nature of this heavenly perfect pub pub is pictured in the portrait of the elderly gentleman with the Jamaican flag background, and the plaque touchingly reading ‘so-and-so, friend of the house, 1934-2006’. This is the kind of pub I want to sit in, quietly drinking in the corner; perhaps treating myself with the occasional argument about religion or politics (if I want to get my face smashed in), or bag of pork scratchings (if my face is to remain un-smashed).
We left about half an hour after last orders and after walking through two doors found ourselves confronted by a triple padlocked, double chained door, impenetratable by all but the greatest of escape artists. Wandering sheepishly back into the bar we were faced with the laughs and cheers of the remaining locals. Was that a rite of passage? Were we now accepted into the gang? Next time we venture in we will be able to join the chorus of roaring schadenfreude at whichever bumbling greenhorns are helplessly batting against the locked door like flies in a bottle (a bottle with a door in it?). As calm and relaxing as the pub was (I don’t remember its name, and maybe never knew it to begin with), I can easily imagine it as the kind of place that might kick off with the odd rumble on derby day.
There was the most inept dj/karaoke tech I have ever experienced. The music was happening somewhere around the back of the bar, tucked in a corner I could not see, and was generally ignored by all the genial old patrons of the public house. It was quietly simmering way below the level where it needs battling against, but at random intervals the volume was been pushed up to blasting-point before being silenced like the maddest excesses of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry dubbing. At which point the dj would take the mic and say ‘sorry, about that lads and ladies... now, er, where were we? Oh yeah right; here’s Dirty Old Town by The Dubliners’.
We started with a couple of pints of Hyde Kalt, then switched to Guinness. As if by magic the music changed from whatever background pop the world is currently ignoring like wallpaper, to exciting and energetic Irish fiddling. Makes me want to stomp my feet and hit myself in the head with a beer tray while yelping fiddle-de-de. Why did I leave that first unrelated sentence at the start of this blog? I don’t know, but it’s too late now to go back and tippex it out.