Meanwhile, Back at the Bar…

In which The Author has a moment of clarity

Eleven o’clock heralded the influx of the newly wealthy students eager for beer and shots of silliness. When I was a student the first time round, one pint on a Friday lunchtime was my afternoon treat before three hours of Biochemistry practical. I occasionally had a decent-ish session on a Friday night (band night) or Sunday night (Alternative Cabaret night) but never to the extent of being sick in the sink or falling in the Pinn. Then again, our halls of residence were at the Cowley Road end of the campus. If I had fallen in the Pinn, it would have betokened the total failure of my onboard navigation systems.
This current generation of students seems to think nothing of pushing the boat out on a school night. Yesterday, Sara and Llinos were online before the lecture started, booking tickets for Calvin Harris on Wednesday night. (Note for older readers: Calvin Harris is a contemporary ‘musician’ who talks over other people’s records and makes a small fortune while doing so.)
Even on my fairly frequent trips ‘into town’ to see bands during that winter of 1984–5, I rarely had more than a few pints at the venue. I don’t think I ever went into any of the pubs in Uxbridge town centre. I had the odd Sunday afternoon pint in the Shovel, on the canal in Cowley. My wild years came later on, in and around my relationship with Sam H.
Last week was Freshers’ Week, and judging from her frequent Facebook updates, my friend Danni seems to have spent the entire week either pissed, hungover, or getting pissed again.Over the weekend she posted a brief obituary for her liver. I hope she was joking.
The strange thing about going to pubs with Shanara (who doesn’t drink at all) is that I tend to notice far more how I myself am affected by drinking. It’s led me to cast a far more critical eye at my friends who spend all day, every day, in one pub or another. On one hand, I’d love to have the money and the irresponsibility to say ‘Fuck it all,’ and get trolleyed every day. On the other hand, I no longer want to be part of the AAPAA inner circle.
The Pickled Pepper is AAPAA HQ, and it’s the same faces and the same conversation every time I stick my head round the door, like an alcohol-fuelled Groundhog Day. Even the music channel on the TV is on a constant loop of twenty or so tunes. Having said that, I’ve been in the Students’ Union for over an hour now and the same music has just started to repeat from when I walked in. At least it’s not all contemporary stuff – there’s a decent mix of 1980s and 1990s stuff in there as well. The Conway is more expensive, and with John’s constant fix of Petrolhead TV blaring from the corner, there’s little incentive to go in there either.
I’ve been skint throughout the summer, and between that and the atrocious weather we’ve had, there’s been little incentive or opportunity to go to the pub. I haven’t really missed it. I’ve missed seeing my friends, but we can catch up any time. Instead, I’ve been learning to do new things on the PC. I’ve been reading, listening to music, watching lots of fascinating documentaries on the BBC iPlayer, and gaining a basic foothold on the piano. I could probably be quite happy to eschew the pub scene entirely again. I went for seven months without drinking until Jenny started messing with my head and I got pissed to forget about her for a while. Maybe it’s time to do it again.
But not yet. Nicky H. texted me earlier, so I’m meeting her for a drink shortly. Maybe tomorrow …

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