Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I'm a regular but not at this time of day

I had to deliver light bulbs to my local pub the other day. It's a strange feeling to go into your local in the middle of the day. It doesn't smell the same. There's a hoover in the middle of the floor and Mandy, the bar maid, is wandering around with a duster and pledge, polishing the tables. A couple of early birds are sitting at the bar with pints of beer. Smoking. The blue smoke curls and twists in the air around them. You don't notice that at night. The sun sends shafts of light through the window diagonally. The place smells of disinfectant and furniture polish. Steve the landlord is sitting, hunched over a newspaper, his hair dishevelled, a cup of coffee steaming in front of him. He looks like shit. "Morning Mike." he says, hardly looking up.
"Morning Steve." But he's too engrossed trying the read the back page headlines of the Sun.
"Fucking West Ham won last night" he says "They played a blinder."
I think "so fucking what?" but say "Really? They're doing well."
"They need to only scored five points in the last three games."
As if I'm in the least bit interested. But I carry on "so who they playing next?"
He tells me. It goes in one ear and out the other. I don't care.
He looks up and calls to Mandy. "Sort out Mikels bill will you."
Mandy comes over and takes the invoice from my hand, inspects it, as if it's her business how much it's for, shrugs and wanders behind the bar to get the money. It isn't. She just shells out the cash.
"you in tonight?" she says
"Maybe." Eleven o'clock in the morning who gives a shit? I trouser the cash and look into the other bar to see if I know anyone. Then into the conservatory where we meet for our music club. There's a group of women sitting in there chatting over coffee and plastic bags full of embroidery. Some are just sitting picking away at their work, others standing holding up their latest creations. It's all very quiet. Steve still looks like shit. He's been on the piss with his Speedway chums the night before. He's only been into Speedway for eight months but already he fancies he knows everyone and everything. he spouts on interminably about his dream team. telling anyone who hasn't the heart to tell him to "fuck off" all about his latest passion.
Two years ago it was football, last year rugby, this year it's speedway, and next year it'll be something else. But he will always be an authority on the subject I suspect he has Aspergers syndrome.
Regulars walk in. I don't know them because they're not regulars when I am. I can't be doing with this day time drinking mularky.
"You stopping for a drink Mike?"
"NO I never drink before nine." I say.
"But it's eleven now."
"I gotta work. I'll see you later."

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