God spends quite a lot of time in the pub — sometimes he’s there when he’s supposed to be at chapel — that’s what I say to friends who ask where we are bound on a Sunday afternoon when the good folk are heading down the valley to the chapel.
Yesterday there was an added incentive (for the pub, not chapel) — Liverpool were playing Man. City in the League Cup. It’s not that Alan supports Man. City (he would warm to anyone in competition with Manchester United — it’s an underdog thing. The landlord is an avid Liverpool supporter which adds to the fun enormously.
‘Can we have the Rugby on?’ asks Alan as we arrive.
‘There isn’t any!’ snaps the landlord.
‘Wasps are playing against ‘Quins on BT Sport,’
‘Can’t afford BT Sport with the pitiful amount you drink!’
‘Do Wasps have a ‘B’ team? asks Ikey, ‘Bee team’, he repeats, at which point a man in an overcoat, a knitted Balaclava and thick scarf runs into the bar and sexually assaults several ladies, it is the muffled titter running around the room — a tribute to My Dad — it was the only joke he knew! No one takes any notice — they never did.
The landlord asserts himself by switching on the commentary. That way he can follow the action despite all the distractions we can throw at him like the full glass of Stella I knock across the domino table due to the excitement of a penalty — it misses Alan almost completely.
As the match progresses the joy of winding up the landlord is irresistible — people who normally have no interest in football whooping with every Man City tackle and berating the ref for every decision that favours Liverpool — carried on a wave of affectionate teasing — warmed by our own mass action. But Liverpool were never meant to lose.
If we want any more beer we had better shut up — during the penalty shoot-out there is a respectful silence — we have probably already gone too far. The instant the winning Man City goal hits the back of the net the sound is switched off and program turned to Countryfile and someone says how Adam is a ‘really good farmer’ so everyone, relieved to change the subject, can discuss why he never has mud on his boots and where the puddles might have gone and why doesn’t he get a move on and swing that lamb.