Normally, I wax lyrical about restaurants but in this post I want to tell you about an evening I had in a pub. I didn’t eat and I barely drank but the evening had such an effect I want to share. I’m deliberately not going to tell you what pub it was in, which is a shame as I’d highly recommend it.
So, anyway, yesterday evening OH fancied a pint. Just the one. We had been out walking for most of the afternoon and it was after 5 when he made his request. I was driving and didn’t mind so we popped into the pub with the intention of staying for one. With a pint of Best and a diet coke we sat on stools at a large, high table in the corner of the pub between the bar and the window. Not long after, a woman with a dog came in. She ordered a gin and tonic and sat at the end of the same table we were at. She had bought some prints locally and was telling the barman about her purchases. I noticed she highlighted to Drew the barman that she had been out walking her dog and was, like us, just in for the one.
I love art and was intrigued to see what she had bought so leaned over and asked. She was more than happy to show me and quite naturally we started to chat about paintings and the local area. I soon became aware that a man, who had just walked into the pub and was standing at the bar, started to butt into our conversation. I assumed him and the woman knew each other as they seemed to talk with a shared understanding of the pub, barman and local area. I was a bit irritated by the man. He was mid 50s, bald, short and sported a lavender coloured top tucked into his jeans. What annoyed me was that all his stories had an underlying theme – money. He’d drank 3 bottles of £80 champagne at the Open. He was a member at Crail and St Andrews Golf Clubs – both of which he drove to with the roof down in his Mercedes. He had 2 properties for sale – 1 of which had 10 windows that viewed on to the Forth. The other had a walk in shower big enough for 4 people to stand in.
One of his lengthier stories came about when we were all discussing another local pub, which had recently been done up. Michelle (art buying dog lady) told us she was disappointed with the refurbishment as it now lacked character. Baldy man Ian told us he hadn’t been back since he left the staff a £80 tip. He had been there for a meal with friends and family and only had £100 notes. The meal had come to £820 and as he was paying for everyone he paid the bill with 9 £100 notes and told them to keep the change. He had then asked for 6 tins of coke to take away. He only had a couple of quid change in his pocket and was 20p short. Apparently the barmaid refused to let him off with the 20p and even when he pointed out the size of tip he had left she still wouldn’t budge. This meant he had to break another £100 note for the sake of 20p. Hence why he hadn’t been back.
By this time the ‘just one’ was but a forgotten dream. OH was half way down his 3rd pint and Michelle had got herself another G&T. I had given up on the diet coke after my 2nd.
When Ian had mentioned the properties he had to sell, Michelle told us about the accommodation she was renting out. It turned out she was just in the area for the weekend to change the sheets prior to the next house full of tourists turning up. Like Ian, she was also an incomer.
Every time someone left or walked into the bar Ian would say hi or bye to them. He rarely gave them eye contact but he’d always acknowledge them and then turn to us and tell us who they were. For instance, one woman was ‘off the drink’. Normally he’d buy her maybe 5 vodkas of a night but she’d recently turned yellow so now she was on J2O. He was full of little bits and pieces like that.
It became obvious Drew the barman knew both Michelle and Ian. However, after Michelle started asking Ian some more questions I realised that, although they were both regulars, this was the first time they had actually met. We were an odd mismatched bunch as we sat and chatted the night away. We plied the duke box with money and criticised one another’s song choices even though we knew and sang all the words.
What often happens when strangers starts prattling in a pub everyone starts buying one another a drink. However, in this instance, it was Ian that was buying and way more than his fair share too. He was insistent and would get a round in before anyone else had the chance too. I was happy sitting back watching and for once I was pretty quiet. I lost count of OH’s pints and I could tell Michelle was feeling the effects of all the gin she was throwing back. Ian told us this was the second time that day he had been drunk as he’d been in the pub at 11.30 that morning for a sesh and had gone home to eat his hot smoked salmon and fillet steak and had now returned for round 2.
You may be wondering where this story is going and why we sat in one another’s company all evening instead of having just one and leaving. Well, the surprising twist to this tale was the sad story attached to Ian’s anecdotes of wealth. His wife had a stroke 15 months ago and she hasn’t spoken since. She has been in every hospital in the area and is having to be fed by a tube to her stomach. It didn’t sound like there was much hope for her but Ian was continuing to visit and make sure she had the best care available. Consequently, she is now going into a nursing home and Ian is having to sell his houses to pay for her care.
The £80 tip story had been his wedding day. The champagne – his wife’s birthday.
He was so lonely he was spending all his time in the pub and you could see he was really struggling with coming to terms with the fact that no longer did money equal power. It didn’t matter how much money he had, it meant nothing. He just wanted his wife back.
I had been quick to judge Ian earlier in the night but as OH and I left the pub together I knew I was richer than him.