I've got a pet cheetah. It's pretty fast but I can still outrun it. Sometimes it talks back so I have to kick its ass. My car is made of gingerbread. Skoda let me have the one from the advert when they had finished with it.
Nearly ten years ago, I was backpacking around the world with my girlfriend (who is now my wife) and while on the backpackers trail, we learnt many valuable lessons. Amongst the most important stands the one I am going to impart to you now.
Never, NEVER strike up conversation with the guy on his own at the bar.
That’s right. He may seem approachable, friendly, affable, polite, positively welcoming in fact. But do not be fooled. That man, is an idiot.
Now as we all know, the universe is held together by ‘The Force’ and the force has a light side and a dark side. These two opposites are delicately balanced and as a direct result of this, if a man finds a handful of change down the back of his sofa in Hong Kong, a sales rep in Basingstoke will accidentally toast his genitals in a Corby Trouser Press. Unfortunately this universal law means that everything good in the world is naturally accompanied by something bad. This means that like curry and the trots, pubs and idiots often go hand in hand.
The pub idiot comes in many guises, each more cunningly designed to lure you into their dingy corner of the bar than the last. I shall now attempt to describe them in order to warn you before it’s too late.
1. The crazy old man. He has had a skin full by mid afternoon. He doesn’t have to be back into the hospital for a few more hours and he is looking for somebody to talk to. That somebody is not you. Remember this.
2. The aging alcoholic. He likes to get up bright and early so he is ready to face the day ahead, which is the reason he is outside the pub before the barman has even arrived. He prefers real ale because of its strong flavour and he prefers Wetherspoons pubs because of their lively atmosphere and sophisticated clientele. The fact that the beer is dirt cheap and the bar staff are not troubled by excessive levels of inebriation is unrelated.
3. The friendly young guy. The most devious of them all, this man looks well dressed, well adjusted and well heeled. Do not be fooled. Should you come within 6 feet of him he will politely introduce himself before embarking on a series of lies that would make Baron Munchausen blush. I have heard many of these over the years, and I will now give you a small selection of the best in no particular order.
– I am not allowed to talk about what I do for a living.
– I’ve got a Porsche and a Lambourghini at home but I decided to take the Fiesta today.
and my favourite by a country mile,
– I was at a friends flat in New York when an argument broke out. One guy threatened another with a pistol, and to diffuse the situation my friend threatened them both with a rocket launcher. I wasn’t scared because that sort of thing goes on all the time where I’m from.
Pure comedy gold.
So, the lesson to take home today is this. If you go into a strange pub, take a deep breath and start chatting with the group of friends in the corner. Don’t take the cowards option and chat to the friendly stranger on his own at the bar. He is on his own for a reason. He’s as mad as a bag of snakes. The locals already know this. Make sure you do too.
Going Somewhere – An Australian Adventure