Alone Again Or
A few weeks ago Tandleman left a comment which said, inter alia, “…remember beer is a social drink to be enjoyed with friends. It should accompany entertainment, not be, in most cases at least, the actual entertainment itself.”
This is, of course, correct. However, drinking alone is when the beer gets to be the main attraction: the meat rather than the stock. When you go to the cinema, you sit in the dark and turn your mobile phone off in order to give the film your full attention. Whilst some films can be enjoyed at home whilst flipping through a magazine or browsing the internet, a truly great film deserves to be watched with no significant distractions, only complimentary sensations: popcorn, a fizzy drink, a loving hand to squeeze through the shocks.
However, drinking alone in a relatively quiet pub serves a greater purpose than simply appreciating a beer in high definition; it can be good for your mental health. It’s not that I hate conversation. Other people can be wonderful, if you’re in the mood for them. However, there are moments when a man needs to spend some time with himself to cleanse the mind of the wearying, frustrating, anxious trivia of real life. To defragment.
My perfect combination is sitting anonymously at a corner table in a half-full pub with a low hubbub of conversation going on all around, with a great beer and a good newspaper crossword (Telegraph cryptic or Observer Everyman, for my handicap). One can sip the beer, stare into nothingness and think about the aroma and taste, solving its mysteries, alternating with working out cryptic clues and anagrams in your quiet battle with the setter.
If I were Icelandic, I might drive to the middle of nowhere and stare across a glacier, finding perspective in the emotionless stoicism of geology as the Earth slowly rips itself apart underfoot. If I were a fisherman, I might pack my rod and stand in a river with only birdsong and trickling water to listen to, lost in the motions of casting and the passing current.
But here, in the rude, grubby, sweaty, selfish, frustrated city, at least I know that there is always a pub, a crossword and a pint.