We were in Bristol last weekend. Emma's brother lives there with his wife and their 6-month old daughter.
Since crashing through their front door at 2 in the morning while the baby sleeps upstairs doesn't seem the done thing, we stayed in a hotel for the first of our two-night stay. That meant we could go out and have a few drinks with our meal, and generally behave in a loutish manner without upsetting anyone. Well, not anyone we knew, anyway.
Before we left for the restaurant we asked the man at reception whether there were any pubs in the area. We never asked if there were any nice pubs, just pubs. Nevertheless he seemed concerned for our safety straight away. He thought about it for far longer than you would think necessary before finally offering;
"It's not that great for pubs around here." Keep in mind that this is in Bristol city centre. We were a little surprised to say the least. Usually the one thing you can be sure of finding in city centres is pubs.
"They're all a bit iffy." he added.
I wondered if he knew where we had come from. It's a stretch to believe that there is any pub in Bristol that is more 'iffy' than say, The Vine, or The Elephant in Thatto Heath. Maybe it was because Emma asked. She sounds like she comes from somewhere civilised whereas I sound like I come from Thatto Heath. Maybe he'd listened to her accent and raised the bar just that little bit too high in terms of our expectations.
"It's just round the corner." he said finally.
"You can try it if you want."
Well thanks. So we did. We had gone past the signpost marked tipsy by the time we left the restaurant. Red wine will do that to you. Well, it will do it to me and Emma. She doesn't drink that often, and although I tend to go to the pub more I don't sit with my mates in the Springy drinking red wine. If ever you were to find justification for beating up a disabled person, that might be it. A man drinking red wine in the Springy is a man whose favourite film is Dirty Dancing and who has tickets to see JLS.
So back to the pub, and Dennis, one of our main protagonists in this wearisome tale. The pub was a kind of mock-tudor building called the Stag and Hound, which surprised us because our friend the receptionist had told us that it was Brazilian themed. Amusingly, Emma and I missed the fact that there was a short cut on a bend near a roundabout, and so wasted at least five minutes waiting patiently at several pedestrian crossings, one of which was broken. It was like Frogger on the ZX Spectrum for anyone old enough to put that into any kind of context.
We approached the bar and find Dennis stood there with his wife and little dog Misty. At first he didn't pay much attention to us but as soon as we sat down he decided to get himself acquainted. I shall spare Emma the trauma of re-living the event fully but for a warm-up he made several comments about her which might otherwise be deemed inappropriate. He thought he was being complimentary, clearly, but it was just kind of embarrassing. It wasn't quite the stuff of Keys and Gray but clearly Dennis had not wooed his wife by means of chivalry and romanticism.
And then he told her a joke about buggery. There, I said it. Buggery. Neither myself nor Emma would consider ourselves prudish but I think I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have never gone up to a strange couple in a pub and told the lady a joke about buggery. I mean, it's just never been the gentlemanly thing to do, has it? When did it become ok to tell women you have never seen before jokes about buggery? And did you hear the one about the............. No, we're not going there. I actually can't remember the joke now, which is a pity because it might have made for good copy for some of you.
Now, we're too polite to have said anything to Dennis about his rather forward approach to pub comedy, so he probably never even got even a mere whiff of the idea that we might have been offended. He bought the next round, in fact, which in my book goes some of the way to repairing the damage.
And Misty was a lovely dog..............