Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's more important than life and death.

It is now three years since I confessed to friends that I was indifferent to the beautiful game. Understandably they now ignore me in the months August to May; this year the World Cup added to my isolation.

Even before Andy Gray let his mouth follow his brain into the corridor of uncertainty I was there. When Andy said on Sky, “questions will be asked”, I realised I was the one asking them.

The arrival of a new football season can only spell trouble for someone with an equal indifference to cars yet wants to maintain a conversation in the pub.

So you can imagine my pleasure last night when, asked which games would be shown on the pub television this weekend, the landlord said “none”. The builders went silent, the zoo people looked shocked but it was the boat people who were obviously the most upset.

The boat people always occupy the table nearest the door looking up nervously every time someone comes in.
They are not, as their name might imply, refugees from the Mekong but, listening to their accents, refugees from Merseyside. It is not known if some years ago they had set off on a day trip up the Manchester Ship Canal and taken the wrong turn.

But what is known is their appearance on barges moored on the Regents Canal just 50 yards from the pub’s front door. Property is at a premium in Primrose Hill and obviously anything which stands still for more than a minute, including water, will be built on. Thus the canal provides floating homes for those who one day might splice their main braces and head for Polynesia or St Pancras.

In the meantime the pub is the nearest dry land and the perfect place to dream the dreams that several pints of lager can provide. The pub does own a perfectly acceptable wall-mounted flat-screen TV but it now stares blackly back at the regulars - a satellite deal has not been done. This, explained a regular, as sotto as he could make his voce, was to deter “the lads” from making the pub a regular stop on their journey from sobriety to stupor. Not, he quickly added, “the lads” in the pub but other assorted “lads” who might mistakenly think Primrose Hill a welcoming stopping off point.

These other “lads” can often be observed passing through the area in buses carrying the cleaners of the rich and famous beyond St John’s Wood to their homes. They are not encouraged to leave public transport on their way through and if they do then net curtains would twitch - if any of the houses dared have net curtains.

The pub tries its best to maintain the area’s non-social mix policy with bar prices that puts a round beyond the mimimum wage.

Even the builders and the boat people restrict their visits to happy hour and a half - where prices do not change thereby making the landlord very happy.

And it was the sudden memory that they are irregular regulars that allowed the lads who are not the lads to swallow the back-handed insult/compliment.

“Well we don’t come to the pub at the weekend anyway”, said a boat person.
Relief all round.