When I was painfully single and had a much better capacity for alcohol, I used to visit the Legion almost nightly. As previously alluded to, I have no mouth for spirits, but Guinness is all but in my dreams. Naturally, familiarity breeds contempt, and I spent my evenings drunk and blurrily seething at my fellow barflies.
Since Aimée moved in, we don’t meet up at the Legion. We don’t need to because she’s already in my house, and she doesn’t drink very much. In order to keep up with the storylines of long-running series on disc, we don’t drink at home. Indeed, this might sound very sensible, or boring, depending on your own personal leaning and that might be an end to it.
I’m getting to it.
The Legion had become the playground of the cycling group. The good cycling group. There were two. The rubbish collective of saddle-sniffing bicycle fanciers have gone now. It had been their intention to meet up at the Legion, as a midway point on their journey, for a glass of sparkling water and a bathroom break. They were a large group and so they suggested they would have a weekly whip-round and donate the value of a bottle of scotch to the Poppy Appeal with every Legion meet-up. The intention was that this would be a weekly affair. Of course, this was tremendous news for the Poppy Appeal.
And then they didn’t.
They came to the Legion, and whether tapped or flushed – they used our metered water, they filled our car park to overflowing with their sleek saloons and boxy four-by-fours. They didn’t put a penny in the Poppy Appeal.
Thankfully, a quiet word was had (obviously, this did not include myself. I no longer seethe, but I have no volume control). They wrote a cheque and started meeting in a location to which they had made no promises.
No, our good cyclists are the easiest to tolerate in Devon: they wear the proper equipment, ride in a straight line and stop off at pubs all across the county. They cover dozens upon dozens of miles with trickles of sweat and muscles stretched to splitting, but they have a glass of wine with it. There’s something rather elegant about that.
Anyway, the fact is that on Wednesdays, the Legion has become their domain.
Until last night.
A friend of mine has been having a hard time of it. A wonderfully popular lad, a whole gaggle of us congregated at the Legion to console him alcoholically. The barman was on excellent form, told a great string of jokes, each funnier than the last – I can’t remember when we last laughed like that.
My buddy, although struggling, has retained his sense of humour. His younger friends took him in to town the night before. I’ll point out right now, this chap has a lot going for him, a good heart, kind eyes, a new puppy. He also got punched in the face by a homeless woman.