As well as reading I have been writing. And, because I just had a good review for my collection of short stories, Here and There, I have decided to post the latest one … well it is a short script. Hope it provides a bit of entertainment.
In Our Times
I You took your time!
II Ah, the days when I could shimmy through the mob and wave a smile and a wad of cash and get an early serve are long gone.
I The queue was long, then?
II Yeah, but not in terms of people, only three ahead of me, but then one of them ordered seven pints.
I Seven! How did he swing that in this day and age? The SD lot will be all over him!
II Naahh. Apparently he takes them upstairs to the landing; it’s a part of the pub where the residents can Social Distance and talk to each other. It’s …
I Hey, what is it with using the coaster as a lid? I thought the plan was to put your glass on them?
II It’s the latest wheeze whereby bar staff are instructed to protect the beer from contamination … any heavy breathing or coughing while transporting the amber nectar and the lid takes the damage.
I Guess I just flick it onto the table with a fingernail then? Then what?
II It’ll be collected after we leave by minions wearing blue gloves, stored for three days and then be trotted out as a lid once more.
I Can’t help but admire the ingenuity of creative drinking. I mean look at this place. Who’d have thought we’d be in a pub with SD still laying down the law. Yet we’ve booked this table which is the regulated two metres long; we’re sat at either end and we’ll able to have a drink together for forty minutes before surrendering it to a deep clean and another couple of desperados.
II You know I’m real grateful even if it is just forty minutes. Drinking on my own was bloody awful and the beer tasted sour. Good to see you my friend, good to see you!
I Hmm. Where’d did you say those seven pints were going?
II Up to the residents – they’ve found a position which fulfils SD but where they can sit on the carpet and see each other and yarn.
I I wonder how they distribute the beers? Do you think they’re using the method popularised by that TV café; you know where the waiter puts the tray on a high table and the drinkers take turns to squat-crawl over to the table and take their drink without ever letting more than whites of their eyes show above the surface.
II Yeah, that was a funny skit. You know the man with the seven beers said something funny just before we did the SD dose-doe so he could leave the counter with his tray.
I What did he say?
II He said if SD kept on much longer eulogies wouldn’t hold many surprises anymore. What you reckon he meant by that?
I Well … it’s a thought. It is probably pretty true in the circumstances.
II Yeah, but what did he mean?
I Oh come on! You’ve been to funerals where you don’t know the deceased all that well; well you’ve been around them for years but you just know them through the job or something and drinks for a couple of hours once a week. At the funeral some person you’ve never seen with your dead friend gets up and starts to talk about the past.
II Yeah! And it all comes out in this tidy little story, polished up for the event.
I But you find out stuff! You hear about losses and successes your old friend had never mentioned but sort of explains a few twitches and the reason why he stormed out of one of the company meetings.
II Or you make connections. You realise the weedy bloke was her cousin and the high stepping drape of shawls was her aunt and that’s the Sunday commitment she’d never dodge ‘cos was because they’d come through for her when the going was tough.
I Or you find out they’d had a love child or been the founding member of anti-something club or they ran away when they were ten and caused a nationwide child hunt.
II Yeah, I get that but what’s the connection to my man with the seven pints?
I Well these days the distractions in the pub have been muted. You know, the big screens are scarcely wound up much above a whisper, so drinkers, forced to sit miles apart, can talk to each other. There’s no sport except reruns so nobody really bothers with that either.
II Yeah and you’ve had a few months to realise most popular songs and TV are crap but the link to eulogies is?
I In the early days of 2020 if the music was blaring and the commentator shouting urgently about a game you’d stick your head right next to someone else’s and bellow a bit of nonsense in their ear.
II Yeah! And spray spittle and warm beer all over their face in the process and then flick your attention back to the main event. Do I miss those days?’
I But now with SD you can’t get up close and personal without a permit and promise to household so you have to focus and really concentrate on what is being said.
II And what is being said is now in sentences and even paragraphs instead of fragments. I get the drift but I am still struggling here to make the connection!
I Those men boarding in the pub are listening, probably for the first time, to the longer story about another person’s life.
II Ohhh! No surprises at the funeral then?
I Sort of disappointing in a way, isn’t it.
II Don’t worry. I’ll keep a few gems to myself to have trotted out on the day that’ll make your eyes roll.
I Not you, mate! You’re an open book!’