The Alehouse Blues

I visited a pub recently for an hour and looked about me. It was a mistake – I should have kept my nose in the pint glass and read the beer mat.

It was a cheerful pub – well-appointed and clean. There were any number of beers on tap and I daresay I could have called for anything I wanted. The Kölsch was fine. Had I stayed to dinner it would probably have been good food.

But as I was alone on the occasion I doubt whether I could have faced it. You see there   was nothing to fix the mind in the place save beer and piped-in television sports. There is only so much footage of horse racing, rugby, and cricket that you can take before you start to get palpitations…and not of the heart…

It would be foolish to expect art or intellect in a taphouse…except where the patrons are artists themselves and want to make sure you know it. Politics of the lowest sort might be a relief from the tedium, but I suspect that the political pub is only open to true believers. And literature is only going to be available in University food halls – you trade access to pilsner for declamations on Proust.

But let us have something that will amuse the eye as the food and drink amuse the tongue. Leave books of short stories about. Even foreign-language magazines would do. Picture books. Things that do not shout…there is enough of that going on as it is.

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