There’s an art to the way in which you conduct yourself while alone in public places that are typically reserved for mutual enjoyment. This is of particular importance in pubs and an art in which my dad excels. He’s been visiting pubs on his own for as long as I can remember and I’m sure many years before that. This isn’t because he hasn’t got any friends or because he takes any chance he can to get away from the house, but simply because my father is perfectly comfortable sitting there on his own, enjoying a pint of beer or glass of wine.
I’m a novice. However, travelling the country alone has certainly warmed me to the idea that having just yourself for company is, actually, alright. I’ve had some pretty stimulating conversations with me. I’ve even argued to the point where I need one of ‘us’ to leave the room before it gets ugly.
Today, halfway through a dog walk, I fancied a coffee. So, I entered the nearest pub I could find and approached the bar.
You have to give off an air of confidence in order to achieve maximum lonesome nirvana. Not over-confidence, as that simply renders you a tit. No, just an indication to those around you that you may be alone but you’re perfectly happy with the fact and do not require their sympathy. This often means striking up meaningless conversations, off the cuff. I’m not great at this, I’ll admit, which is probably why I asked the barman: ‘What coffees do you have, mate?’
This took him a little by surprise, as my windswept, shaven-headed appearance should only ever result in a request for ‘man drinks’ like real ale. Suggesting that all I was interested in was Americanised, needlessly complicated varieties of coffee was dangerous.
He duly listed all the coffees they could whip up and I plumped for a cappuccino.
I then browsed the paper rack. ‘They’re all Sunday’s papers, mate,’ said my new barman friend (I figured we were close enough now to refer to him as so – we’d been through so much together).
‘No problem,’ I said, picking up a dog-eared copy of the Mail on Sunday. And it wasn’t a problem. I was going to read three-day old news simply because I could. That’s what us loners do. We drop our pants and fart in the face of conformity.
I got bored of the paper very quickly and ended up playing Cut The Rope on my iPhone instead. That, too, lost its appeal, so I took a photo of my coffee. I’m not sure why I did that and, unfortunately, my new mate caught me doing so. To his credit, he pretended he hadn’t witnessed it and got on with his duties.
Realising I was in over my head, I decided to leave. Another thing my dad is good at is saying goodbye to bar staff in every pub he visits. Unfortunately, my misjudged beverage paparazzi episode seemed to have forced my ex barman friend to get as far away from me as possible. The pub was suddenly empty. There was no one to say goodbye to, so I trundled out. Alone.
I don’t need your sympathy, though. It was fine. Really.
Anyone fancy a pint?