There is a sacred time every Sunday, an islanded hour, when I like to find a quiet corner in a public house and read the Sunday papers. An essential part of the experience is the accompanying two perfect pints of plain. And then home for dinner. In this vale of tears surely that's not too much for a man to aspire to.
But I am finding it increasingly difficult to achieve this modest aspiration in my neighbourhood. Take last Sunday. The pint in my local (Fitzgerald's) has deteriorated of late and besides the big match (Chelsea and Manchester United) means that it will be heaving with soccer fans. Finnegan's is a fine pub but its Guinness has never been great - and I hate that renovation they did. I have a grudge with the Queen's (an incident with the red-blazered basilisk that owned the place) and I never liked that weird little speedy bar man in the The Club. So I settled on The Ivory where I know the pint will be perfect, and there's usually a quiet corner. And indeed the pint is excellent but there's no quiet corner - I think they've added a few TVs. There were five or six of them blaring the bloody match. The place is crowded with the gormless, mouths open, intent on the irrelevancy of the Premier League. I can't settle so I depart in exasperation after one pint - papers half read. Maybe I should move to West Cork. It wouldn't happen in Hackett's.