A real English pub, I doubt that my friend.
Well it’s Friday evening and we are off to the pub, not the local that was last night and I am a little fearful that the singer will still be hanging around. So tonight we are off to an English pub. The “William Bass” which used to be the name of a brewer in England but not sure if it still exists. We spotted it last week on our way to see the ugly statue of Peter the Great. On the way we need to get some money. I used my last cash in the dry cleaners when I took Judi’s trousers in. I felt quite pleased that I managed to explain to the lady in the very small shop down in the underground level of the local mall that the marks on the trousers were toothpaste and could we possibly have them back on Sunday. I say I felt good but when you walk into any dry cleaners with 2 pairs of trousers almost any mime will get you the result so maybe I should not feel so smug. It may also have been the fumes and she was beyond caring. A very detailed note made out regarding the state of the clothing items before you can get them cleaned which ended with the lady explaining my part in the proceedings “familiar, familiar” which I assume means name then the universal hold your fist to your ear and shout “telephono” were my instructions on how to complete my section of the form. And so went the last of my ready cash and remember you always need cash.
I am not too concerned as I know where there is a cash machine on the way to the pub so I break my own cardinal rule, #6 get cash from ATM’s attached to banks which are open. This way if you have a problem you can just pop in and explain to the nice people that “the infernal machine outside is acting the goat and eaten my card” with a crisp English accent. It will almost certainly get you to someone senior. so I break my own rule and use the random cash machine on one of the side streets. Now it is only after my card gets accepted that I realize that the level of the sunlight in the evening means I cannot actually see what it says on the screen. Now not all ATM’s are alike (ref the IKEA theory) so I have to bend down and peer very carefully at it, English or Russian ok got that one, now pin but which key is the enter the pad or the screen?, damn this one is a bit tricky and the last thing I need is for it to eat my card. I try crouching standing at the side to block the sun but the security filter then blocks my view of what it actually says which sort of defeats the objective. I try putting my Ray Bans over my glasses which I know will not work so maybe if I hold my Ray Ban’s the other way around then as a sort of Polaroid filter. It seems like a good idea in my head. The reality is of course different and whilst I am holding them to my glasses it seems ok I then lean forward and hit the screen with the sides of the sunglasses and nearly push my spectacles into my eyeballs. This hurts my pride as well as physically and not sure it did my glasses any good. Conscious that these things work on a timer I really need to focus. It asks me if I need a receipt so I have to assume I have asked it to do something and bingo out pop’s 3,000 rubles. Not as much as I had hoped for but it will do. By the time I catch up to Judi all she is interested in is “why were you dancing around back there, doing a bit of a jig weren’t you” and what’s wrong with you glasses. I said it was playing music not wishing to discuss the matter further right now.
So a real English pub is it. Why not Irish? This is the Universal standard. You don’t actually see many English pubs outside of England. Well this may have been authentic a while back probably in the 70’s as it is dark and musty and full of smoke. Heavy round backed chairs and huge solid pot ashtrays which take up far too much room on the small square tables. Pubs in England are not like this, since the introduction of the smoking ban and the advent of eating in pubs they are more sanitized and family friendly. Now this is not a complaint just a comment. I don’t live there so it matters not to me but think the “real English pub” is long gone may it rest in peace. I am old enough to remember when pubs had a male only section called a “vault”. Nothing like this would be acceptable these days.
I order a Kilkenny and Judi something dry and white. I note my drink will cost 295rb on its own and the whole of last night cost 350rb somehow the singer has become more appealing. Anyway we order a steak sandwich for me and a pork thing for Judi both of which are served by a girl who seems to have had her skirt shrink wrapped onto her. She can hardly move one leg in front of the other and of course the skirt is quite short. So we watch as our dinner goes cold as it inches towards us.
During this slow motion section I explain to Judi my “opportunities” booking a flight to the UK next week. I chose Transero a local airline which is linked with BMI. I try and book online but it keeps warning me it is not happy and mentions there are thieves on the internet. So it sort of hangs. Ok phone the helpdesk and they try and convince me everything is ok. So book through “Ivana” got the dates and times got my reference number (handy hint #7 always always always get a reference number) I say fine I will pay when I get to the desk. Nyet says Ivana you need to pay before 10 am tomorrow at our office. Ok where is that Pavaletskya (which I know) so a simple internet booking has turned into a day out. So I manage to find the office. There is a cute process here when you have like a random queue of people not in a formal line but just milling about “so how do you know your place?” I can hear you ask. When you arrive you ask “who is last” and someone puts their hand up so now you know you are after them. A simple but effective process.
The food finally arrives and is just ok however by now we have had a couple of drink and are tired so it’s off home. We go back via the Metro as I want to see who is playing tonight. There is a solo guitarist, actually not bad and plays a James Morrison song which I can sing along to even if nobody else can.
So ends another week. Quite exciting and a few new experiences to chalk up or cross off the list.