Day 33 of 80 — Lock-in

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 33: Lock-in

1 am in South-East London. A true Irish pub lock-in. At the back, a group of men play pool and laugh loudly. I’m at the bar with the regulars. I’ve never been here before tonight’s gig, but they seem to have adopted me. A few card tricks and a taste for Guinness go a long way. It’s 1 am and I’m happy. Half the people here are Irish, it seems. A friendly bunch, they talk and joke. Suddenly, one of the guys takes a guitar off the wall and starts playing. He sure can sing —not his friends, but that doesn’t stop them joining in. I don’t know the songs, but I take my saxophone out again to jam with them. This feels like the real thing, though I’ve never been to Ireland. Drunken men wholeheartedly singing the old airs from their far-away country. One of them starts dancing wildly; his friends quickly removing tables and chairs: they’ve been there before.

It’s 2 am now, time for whiskey (with an “e”, or they’ll get angry!). The owner gets a round in, then another. The guitar has changed hands a few times, it’s much quieter songs now that bring us together. The fire is crackling on one side of the room, we’re like teenagers enjoying the night’s infinity. This is no ordinary pub, it’s a perfect blend. A beautiful expression of London’s melting pot. An Irish pub that boasts a Thai kitchen, where Brits and Irishmen jam with A Mad Belgian.

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