Last orders, shredded beer mats and sticky glasses everywhere, the regulars lurching out of their seats with groans and kidney rubbing.
“Right, well then, see you Sunday, Jim.”
The landlord looks up from the sink.
“No you bloody won’t.”
“Eh? You off somewhere?”
“We’re closed for two weeks. There’s signs up everywhere – look! I put it on bloody Facebook too.”
“Oh, gawd help us…”
“Jesus Christ. Hope it’s not like last time. Didn’t recognise the place. It’s taken five years to get comfy again.”
The pub is indeed well worn-in: curtains askew and moth-eaten; tables looking as if they’ve been stoned and stabbed; and seating burst open, showing its yellow foam guts.
“Ten bloody years, it was,” says Jim.
“Cor, don’t time fly.”
“Where are we gonna drink for two weeks?”
“You’ll bloody live,” says Jim, but there’s a shadow of doubt on his face.
“Furnishings staying, are they? Not going all minimal is it?”
“If any of the mirrors are going spare–”
“Not turning into a wine bar, is it?”
“Hope not but they don’t bloody tell me anything.”
“Two weeks! Christ.”
“Well, good luck, Jim. See you on the other side.”
Jim waves, casual and dismissive, but Jim looks worried.
We’re bloody worried.