They're few and far between now, our visits to pubs.
There was a time when I'd enjoy being in these joyless, characterless shitholes. I'd enjoy meeting up with friends, enjoy a creamy headed pint of Guinness or five, enjoy the conversation, the catching up, the odd laugh.
And I'd also enjoy the goodbyes at 11.30 and the see you soons.
That was when friends were local.
Now, apart from the fact that beer is too belchy and voluminous for me, because friends aren't local, a night out is once in a blue moon and is followed by after hours drinks in front of the telly or stereo. And here I'm struggling.
I keep going because I always drink until the night peters out. So I'm drinking lager at 2.30 in the morning, outstaying my welcome, fed up with myself, fed up with other people, knowing I'm going to get four hours sleep, wanting my own comfortable bed 160 miles away, two hours ago. Wanting a belly nicely warmed with red wine rather than full to bursting with gassy beer.
I'm just not a social animal. I'm a good listener, yes. If you've got a story or ten to tell me, I'll listen and maybe even remember some of them the next day. You just won't get much out of me. The more I drink, the less able I am to tell my own stories. My vocabulary shrinks. I stop talking and carry on listening.
So when this carries on after midnight, I want my daddy to ring on the bell and take me home in his car. But my daddy's dead and he wouldn't be able to take me home if he was alive because if he was alive he'd be more pissed than me.
And he would've been drinking alone.