One of the good things about this walking round London lark is going to a pub to cool off afterwards. Not that I wouldn’t go anyway, but its a good excuse. And part of the point of going to the pub at all is to talk to people. If you only wanted to drink & watch TV its a lot cheaper to get cans from the supermarket. So one measure of a good session in the pub is the conversations you have with people you didn’t expect to meet, or about subjects you didn’t expect to talk about.
I went into the local last Thursday to cool off after walking round Deptford and Peckham (hot day, dusty feet, crowded bus home) A few pints of cold cider felt like a good idea. (The delay in making this post shows how busy my life must be… not. ) And again on Sunday after yet another hotter and dustier afternoon walk after church (pictures later honestly), for more cider and chat. Except that this time there were jellied eels. And roast potatoes and bits of cheese and little Yorkshire Pudding things with small slices of what I suppose is beef in them in a rather nice but sloppy gravy that people other than me spilled on their shirts. And prawns and cockles and mussels and whelks. That’s getting to be traditional London pub Sunday, of the sort that probably never really happened. It almost makes you want to sing My Old Man said follow the van.
Sometimes pubs just work.
And who did I talk to and what did we talk about?
With a rather pissed electrician just off shift about the “invisible army of workers” [his words] who maintain the buildings, railways, roads, sewers and so on in London. Can you have a 45-minute conversation with a stranger about Victorian sewers? Yes, it seems you can.
With J the Barmaid about repairing houses and about the Brockley Tenants Co-operative which (we agreed) seems to be a lot better landlord than the so-called Housing Associations which are really much the same as the Council houses used to be except that they aren’t accountable to elected councillors so you have even less chance to get a hearing from them. As illustrated by a court case she won against Bromley Council some years ago when they basically sued her for money she owed but that they had denied her a realistic chance to pay back by not answering letters or phone calls and having their office closed when she went round. She got compensation that exceeded the amount of debt. [And as an aside I know some people who seem to have sold their house to the BTC and are living in it as tenants. If social housing really worked that would happen more often. It ought to be good enough to choose]
With Dave the Bus-Driver about bus timetables. Well someone has to. And about what happens when they find you drunk and passed-out upstairs on the last bus.
With a bloke whose name I’ve forgotten but he’s on one of the darts teams about taxi drivers and their earnings. He’s not a cabby, but he has strong opinions on those who are.
Not a real conversation but the presumably Chinese woman who walks round selling presumably pirated DVDs tried to sell me one.
With a couple of taxi-drivers watching the 20-20 cricket, talking about 20-20 cricket and about bowling and about why they thought Sri Lanka were cheating Pakistan got a cheer from our pub when they won. Maybe two. I’m not a cricket fan but I can get into the rules and the complexity of it. The very existence of a complex system seems to induce a desire to understand it in my brain. I want to know what the rules are and what effect changing them might have. Like that odd notion from school about electrical charges and magnetic fields causing opposite fields in any metal brought into them.
With J. the Tabloid Journalist about next week’s headlines. He got them right
With N who is apparently going to go to sing at a friend’s wedding in a church in the South of France next week, He showed us the leaflet with words in French and Italian. And then with him & B the Church Organist about music. [I think I must be one of those Philistines who doesn’t like music really but loves the sound it makes]
And later with B and John the Buddhist about more music and other such hippy stuff. Which led to the stand-out remember-it-for-years line of the evening, in that when he heard that B had played on the same stage as Herbie Hancock [how cool is that?] J said: “I know Herbie. We’re old mates”. Which I suspect is true.
With D the Teenage Barmaid about Glastonbury where she is off to do more barmaiding as the price of entry and about festivals in general. “When I were a lad…” Except that when I was her age I didn’t go to festivals and I do now. With tents and all. And apparently the headliners at Glastonbury this year are Blur, Bruce Springsteen & Neil Young. I though pop music was meant to make people my age feel old?
With John the Geordie about, well, it was now getting hard to remember seeing as the two pints of cider had turned into however many pints of cider you drink between 5pm and 10pm and I don’t quite remember that part.