On drinking buddies
I have, for the first time since my early twenties, found myself a proper going-down-the-pub mate.
Quite extraordinarily, after a two decade going-down-the-pub-with-mates drought, I find that I've got no less than two going-down-the-pub mates.
Proper mates, and not people with whom I work, nor the wife's friends, nor her extended family, none of which count in the true going-down-the-pub mates sense.
Barry, then, is intelligent, funny and has a finely-tuned nose for a Scaryduck-esque tale of mirth and woe. Most importantly, he likes his Guinness.
Mack, on the other hand, is Barry's guide dog, and is also excellent.
On nights when Mack would rather stay at home washing his hair, I've been known to walk into the lounge bar at The Old Castle with a bloke on my arm, a sight which raises a few eyebrows at the pool table, I can tell you for nothing.
Barry's also heard – and cracked – just about every single "blind drunk" gag on the planet.
The most useful thing about my new pal is that while I am rubbish at remembering names but brilliant with faces, Barry, by his own admission, is entirely the opposite.
We sit in the lounge bar, downing Guinness and dry roasters, planning to take over the world, should be get permission from our respective other halves. And with our excellent combined targets, how can we fail?
First: Traffic-calming measures on Scary Street. And then: Global marshal law. And pianos tuned.
But - alas - no pub tonight. He's off mountaineering in Wales.
Genuine Small-Ad: Live in the south or south-west of England? Got a piano? Does it sound like it's been pushed down the stairs at the Queen Vic? Get in touch. Reasonable rates.