Pub Life: The Weegie and the Marbles

Illustration: "Old Boy With Pint".

An old pub in a quiet part of a busy city, and an elderly regular, watery-eyed and pale as paper, is sunk in his usual seat waiting for something to happen.

He looks at the TV, then at his news­pa­per, then at his watch. He stares into space, and per­haps into the past. He lines up the spare beer mats, then shuf­fles them out of line again.

Then, at least, some real excite­ment: a mixed group of twen­tysome­things enters, laugh­ing and chat­ter­ing. They are all tall, styl­ish, and dis­tinct­ly Mediter­ranean.

The Regular’s glit­ter­ing eyes track them across the pub car­pet. Two per cent of a smile appears on his thin lips.

The Vis­i­tors are qui­et­ly excit­ed to be in a Real Eng­lish Pub, star­ing at the ceil­ing, the ornate bar, the prints and mir­rors.

They all thrust bank notes at one woman, appar­ent­ly the best Eng­lish speak­er, and shove her towards the bar as they take over the table next to the Reg­u­lar.

The Reg­u­lar, his neck long gone, slow­ly turns his entire tor­so so he can watch them. The smile increas­es by anoth­er degree.

Where you from?” he gar­gles in their direc­tion.

The Vis­i­tors freeze and mut­ter attempt­ed trans­la­tions at each oth­er. The sec­ond best Eng­lish speak­er, beard­ed and quiffed, acts as spokesman.

We come from Greece.”

The Reg­u­lar nods – of course, he thought as much.

Well, me – I’m a Weegie.”

Silence. Baf­fled blink­ing.

A Glaswe­gian.”

Fur­ther mut­ter­ing.

I’m from Glas­gow.”

Bulbs light up.

Ah! Glas­gow! Yes, we know it! Alex Fer­gu­son! Celtic foot­ball club!”

A lucky guess, appar­ent­ly, as the Reg­u­lar is not offend­ed, but after this break­through, con­ver­sa­tion stalls.

Lagers and gins are sipped as the Greeks look anx­ious­ly at each oth­er – when is it accept­able to start talk­ing among them­selves again?

After an uncom­fort­able while, the Reg­u­lar shifts some phlegm about, and leans clos­er.

So,” he says, “here’s what I’m won­der­ing…”

Yes?”

When are the Eng­lish going to give you back those Elgin Mar­bles?”

And with that, the con­ver­sa­tion real­ly catch­es light.

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