’D’you want that in a pint glass, love?’
’Not unless you can confound the laws of physics and fit SOOmls of liquid into a ZSOmIs receptacle,’ I mutter darkly whilst nodding meekly at the barman. After managing to conVince him that I am capable of naVigating my way to the other side of the room unaSSisted, I set the pints down and resume the task in hand.
Melting into the leatherette banquette opposite me was my challenger, the Glasgow homus a/most erectus, who remains a hardy perennial despite Ivlr Happy’s attempts to banish him to the Independent States beyond the West End. He smoothed an 0in rat’s tail behind his ear and leant forward in what I
1&2; «if. a
77 montgomery street, edinburgh. eh? inn
t: Ulll 478 (Hill
l: [Nil 478 lllBl mzllAbB 038052
presumed was intended to be an
'See, the hing is, we men need a place we can go to after a hard day's work, away from the weans an’ all that. The pub is the man’s kitchen. You'se lassies have the beauty parlour and the steamie an' all. Where do we men get the chance to have a wee blether?’
Looking at the stains of no fixed origin that spotted his suit, it didn’t surprise me at all that he thought the steamies were still in operation. I picked my way through the Formica forest and ordered another couple of pints. If I was gOing to have to explain
the developments of the last ten years,
I needed fortification. This was gomg to be a long night.
’As far as I’m aware, beauty parlours don’t serve pints of oder,’ I replied With the strength of a double coursing through my veins.
’Aye, but lassies shouldnae drink, that’s ma pomt.’
’I thought we could drink, but only
says, 'seconds out, round one'
at funerals and weddings?’ I countered, all faux innocence.
’Alright, alright. Ye can drink, but why don't ye go to one of they lassie’s bars instead of bothering us here?’
All was Silent, except for an old man of indeterminate age clearing what sounded like a clutch of frogspawn from his throat. Another pint was on order. It was time to engage.
’I don't want a themed drink in a lady-safe area. Women-friendly bars are approved hunting grounds for predatory males. It is impOSSible to have a quret chat when you feel like a wounded gazelle at the rear of the pack and your protestations cannot be heard over a pumping handbag soundtrack. These pubs are the golf of the licensing trade — a good drink rumed.’ I took a breath.
’Are ye some kind of lesbian?' he bantered, eyeing my pint and lack of cascading hair suspiciously. Faced with this Wildean wit, I could only douse my anger inferno with watery cider and marvel, However, at this point my
Women-friendly bars are the golf of the licensing trade - a good drink ruined.
opponent slid to the floor and landed amongst the lag ends. This apparent setback did nothing to deter his fervour as he began to rant whilst blearily attempting to raise himself to table height.
Watching this spectacle, my mind flitted over the M8 to the cultural bring-and-buy that is the Festival. Hundreds of thousands of people in packed Prozac pubs, nightly enduring some nether celebrity’s attempts to re- capture their questionable glory in the course of a four-week run. Suddenly, I was glad to be in this fetid den, watching an old man lose his dignity and a fight. At least in Glasgow you don’t have to pay £8 for the privilege. Mine's a pint.
Gill Mills co-presents Radio 1 '5 Evening Session opt-out, Session In Scotland, every Thu, 8-10pm; co- hosts The Loafers on BBC Choice, Tue-Fri, 10pm; and presents Hot Pursuits on BBC Knowledge, Radio Scotland.
12—19 Aug I999TIIE "81132