Friday, 18 April 2014

Coffee in Pubs

Steve shook his head and tapped his watch.  He’d been standing at the bar waiting to be served for over 7 minutes. It wasn’t like the place was crowded or anything, there were only about 12 people in, so it really shouldn’t take that long. The problem was 3 of those 12 were drinking coffee, not just any coffee but bloody café latte which took ages to make. To top it off Johnny wanted Guinness which meant another 5 minutes standing at the bar after Steve had been served, waiting for the beer to settle and be topped up in the time honoured tradition.
‘What kept you?’’ Johnny put down his phone and picked up his beer.
‘Fucking coffee! When did a bloody pub become Starbucks?’ Steve puffed out his cheeks. ‘Who the hell drinks coffee at this time of night anyhow? Don’t they want a good night’s sleep?’
Johnny was about to answer but Steve didn’t give him a chance.
‘When I worked behind a bar if a fella ordered coffee they got what was left in the pot, we didn’t give a shit if it was sill warm, we just served it with a little plastic thing of creamer. But these days it’s all do you want skimmed or semi skimmed? Do you want a shot of vanilla? For fuzz sake, just pour a coffee and serve me my beer.’
‘It’s not…’ all about you Johnny was about to say but Steve cut him off at the pass.
‘Why do they only have one person working the bar?’ He asked indignantly. ‘It’s madness. As soon as someone orders a coffee or one of those bloody cocktails’ Steve pointed at the board advertising all manner of cocktails with titillating names, ‘ it creates a bottleneck.’
Johnny nodded, he’d given up trying to contribute.
‘And then your bloody Guinness, he spends time putting that little Shamrock in the top. Does it make it taste any better?’ The question was obviously rhetorical so Johnny let Steve answer himself. ‘No it doesn’t so why bother?’
Johnny was looking around for an escape. But he had a fresh pint so his usual escape route was blocked.
‘You know,’ Steve continued, ‘if they are going to serve coffee and tea, maybe they should make it like a café and have table service. That would mean we wouldn’t have to keep going to the bar, so we wouldn’t have this disjointed conversation.’
On the one hand Johnny thought that this  was a good idea but on the other that would mean he’d never be able to escape when Steve got into one of these moods.
‘But would the service be any better?’ Johnny asked.
‘Well maybe not but at least you wouldn’t have to stand at the bar jockeying for position.’
Johnny nodded, it was a good idea but it couldn’t see it working really.
‘Anyway where were we?’ Steve asked and Johnny breathed a sigh of relief that his friend had changed the subject.

If you like Steve I think youll like Mal try him - here

Thursday, 17 April 2014


Steve settled in to his seat and took a swig of his beer, it’d been a hard week and he felt the drink was well-deserved. Johnny also looked tired, the week had taken its toll on him too. Both of them sat in silence for a moment enjoying a moment to themselves.  A television played VH1 silently to the room while over in the corner the man in the hat was back again, smoking his electronic cigarette much to Steve’s ire. Steve glanced up at the TV.
‘That annoys me.’ He said shaking Johnny out of his reverie.
‘Yeah me too, why on earth do they put the TV on if they are going to pipe different music into the room, it makes no sense. Are people incapable of surviving for just a few moments without staring at a moving image.’  Johnny said hoping to nip an impending rant in the bud by completing it himself.
‘ No, not the mute TV.’ said Steve circumnavigating Johnny’s attempt to shut him up. “Although you’re right that is pretty annoying. But look closely ,if the sound was up, what would you hear.’
Johnny looked at the screen as instructed, he saw a band he half-recognised playing an unheard song.
‘I suppose I’d hear them singing,’ he said in a tone that suggested he was not entirely sure he got what his mate was getting at.
‘What else?’ Steve said.
Johnny shrugged, now he knew he didn’t know what Steve was talking about.
‘Look at the audience, what are they doing?’
Johnny looked at the TV again. The footage was taken from some old TV show with an audience and despite the TV being on mute he could see the audience were clapping along with the song.
‘They’re clapping,’ he said still none the wiser, ‘what’s the problem with that?’
‘I dunno, It’s just so.. lame.’ said Steve. ‘every bloody chat show, or the like, whenever they have a live band the bloody audience start clapping. Usually off beat, usually too loud, and always inappropriately, it really winds me up.’ Steve was getting passionate.
‘They’re just enjoying it.’ Johnny said.
‘No they are not, and that’s the point! It is not free will, don’t tell me the clapping is spontaneous, if it was, I wouldn’t mind so much, but it is ubiquitous which suggests its manufactured, started by poor some stage hand who holds up a sign. Somewhere, someone has decided that it will make better TV if the audience claps along. Well I tell you my friend, it doesn’t, it makes toe-curling cringeworthy TV.’
‘It’s not that bad Steve.’

‘Okay, it’s not that bad,’ Steve said much to Johnny’s amazement ‘but it is bloody annoying.’ he continued swooping up the glasses and heading to the bar cutting his own rant short.

Camera Phones

‘Looks like you had a good time at Luca's party on Saturday?’
‘How do you know I went to Lucas's party?’
‘The magic of the internet my friend, the magic of the internet.’ Johnny rocked back in his chair.
‘Someone mentioned me did they?’
‘Better than that mate,’ Johnny got out his phone, ‘you were tagged.’ He turned his phone so Steve could see a photo of himself gurning drunkenly into a camera.
‘Bloody hell I bet it was Julie wasn't it?’ Johnny nodded, ‘bloody Julie she was buzzing round all night with that bloody phone.’
‘She was just having fun.’ Johnny interjected trying to nip the rant in the bud.
‘Fun for her maybe, but killing the joy for the rest of us. I tell you, camera phones are the devil incarnate, no actually they are like a modern day god, the all seeing eye, omnipotent, omnipresence.

I just want to enjoy myself, live for the moment, I don’t want to be reminded continuously of my drunkenness by people who weren't even there.’
Steve was really flowing now.
‘I remember the days when you could have as many drunken antics as you like and deny all knowledge of it the next day? Deny you'd been singing Danny Boy loudly and tunelessly, deny you’d been dancing to Abba’s Dancing Queen with the grace of a capsized woodlouse. And, because there was no one there with a camera phone no one would ever question your version of events.’ Steve said.
‘What goes on tour, stays on tour.’ Johnny lamented.
‘Exactly,’ agreed Steve ‘but not anymore, what goes on tour gets plastered all over Instagram or Facebook for every Tom, Dick and boss to see.’
For once Johnny was in total agreement with his old friend but concerned about Steve's blood pressure decided to defuse the situation.
‘Well, I won’t take photos of you tonight I promise,’ he smiled ‘do you want another beer.’
Steve nodded holding out his empty glass and Johnny headed to the bar. 

Definitive Proof

‘Oh I bought a mango today, it was lush.’ Johnny took a gulp of his pint thinking he was on safe ground with exotic fruit, but he was wrong, boy was he wrong.

‘A mango, grrrr don’t even get me started on Mangoes, if ever you needed proof that there was no god, you’ll find it there in that bastard fruit.’ Steve was turning ranting into an art form. he could turn just about any conversation topic into an irrational rant. No, thought Johnny, they weren’t irrational, sometimes they were quite logical but only a warped mind like Steve could come up with such arguments.
‘Don’t you like them?’
‘I love them and that’s the problem, I love them but I never get to eat them, they’re evil.'
'Yeah I bought one on Saturday, it was hard so I waited and kept prodding it,'
'They always are.' 
'I know but Sunday morning still rock hard, Sunday afternoon no change, Monday morning rock hard, Monday lunchtime it had gone rotten. There must have been a 4 minute window when it was edible, that 4 minutes when I was on the toilet or on the phone or something. What kind of sick mind would actively invent a fruit of such deliciousness with such a small window of opportunity.’
‘But surely the fantastic juicy flesh should be proof that god exists.’
‘Ok if there is a god then I don’t want to believe in such a cruel being, something that tempts us with juicy fruits only to snatch away the pleasure. I’m not gonna worship such a sadist.’ Steve looked like he was going to explode.
‘So wars, suffering, drought. starvation and you pick mangoes as your proof?’ Johnny goaded his mate.
‘But it’s not just mangoes is it? I mean pears, avacados and and...’
'Apples,' added Johnny more for his own amusement than anything else.
‘Oh it doesn’t matter but they are all the same, unripe for days, ripe for seconds then rancid.’
‘You’re incredible,’ smiled Johnny as he took the last mouthful from his pint and went to get the next ones in hoping the next subject would bring a calmer response.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


‘Hey did you see Tomorrow’s World last night?’ Steve asked Johnny excitedly.
‘Nah I missed it, my mum was watching Crossroads.’ Johnny’s mum was hooked on soap operas, meaning Johnny could never watch the shows the other kids talked about in school. The two boys were walking to school so slowly they could have been going backwards, today was double maths, double Geography, the day from hell.
‘Man, it was coolaorama, they were talking about the phones that we’ll have in the future. Apparently there will be phones we can carry in our pockets and use anywhere? It was wicked.’
‘Like what’s the point of that? Why would I want a phone in my pocket?’ Johnny asked.
‘Well, um, you could phone your mum to tell her you’ll be late.’
‘I can do that now you dipstick, I just need 5p in my pocket and anyway in the future like, I won’t be phoning my mum will I?’ Johnny said, still not very impressed.
‘Okay so your kids could phone you to tell you they are late.’
‘Nah it sounds lame to me.  I don’t see the point, it’ll never catch on.’ Johnny said.
‘Mate don’t be a dumb ass, this is the future. It will be cool. A phone on your pocket!’ 
‘I still don’t see the point.’
‘Okay so if you don’t like that they were also saying that there is going to be a computer thing in America that will store all the information we need  and right we will all have computers at home that we can search for anything. That’s bad!’
‘That sounds boring.’ said Johnny in a bad mood cos he hand’t seen the programme.
‘Boring? No Way! It sounds brill.’
‘It sounds like a massive book and books are like boring.’
Steve thought about this for a second and had to agree with his mate, it did sound a little boring, but it had looked really exciting on the TV.
‘At least we will be able to get information quickly and not have to read all them books.’ he said.
 Johnny shrugged. ‘True, but I doubt it will happen, that programme is full of shit.’ He looked at his watch. ‘Hey we’d better get a move on or we’ll be in deep shit.’ 

With that the boys upped their pace and forgot all about the future for the time being. 

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‘Have you seen the advert for that new film called Her?’ Steve asked. 
‘I can't say I have,’ said Johnny, who was not much of a cinema goer. 
‘Well’ said Steve. Otoh thought Johnny, there was no mistaking that that well signalled the start of a thought that had been fermenting in Steve's mind for a few days and was ready to be released to the world. 
‘Her is all about a guy who falls in love with his computer. With the operating system’s artificial intelligence voice, you know like Siri on the iPhone, it helps him organise his life.’ explained Steve. 
‘Sounds lame,’ said Johnny.
‘Looks lame,’ said Steve but even worse, it’s a complete rip off. Do you remember Mannequin? 
‘Mannequin?’ repeated Johnny searching his database but coming up blank.
‘Well the guy in that falls in love with a mannequin, a showroom dummy. The films are exactly the same - showing how love blossoms between a lonely man and an inanimate object while the world looks on thinking theyre cuckoo. ‘
Johnny smiled at the use of the word cuckoo. ‘And your point is?’
‘Well theyre insulting our intelligence arent they? Just regurgitating the same old shit hoping people won't notice. It wouldn
t be so bad if they were saying it was a remake but to pass it off as something new is just an affront.’
‘The thing I don't understand about you Steve, is that you always seem to expect so much from things! You know the film industry is dross! Why do you expect any different?  Werent you the one ranting about false expectations just a while back?'
‘I can't help it if I am naturally optimistic can I?’ Steve said without a hint of irony. 
Johnny nearly spat his beer out, ‘Yeah that's the one word I associate with you Steve.’
Steve looked mildly hurt at his friend's sarcastic tone. 
‘Mind you, what can you expect from the director of Being John Malkovich.’ Steve said regardless of his mates teasing. 
‘Not a fan?’ Johnny asked instantly regretting it. 
‘No!’ said Steve, he was just about to launch into his views on that film when Johnny interrupted him. 
‘One more?’ he said holding out his empty glass. Steve nodded and Johnny made his move. 
‘Kim Cattrall’ he said as he stood up. 
‘What?’ said Steve.
‘That's the woman who played the mannequin. Kim Cattrall’

If you enjoyed that why not buy my new novel

Maggie’s Milkman is now available on Kindle at
and on other ebook readers at -

and if you don’t know what they are talking about check out these two trailers.



‘I don't like this song,’ Steve said in a no nonsense tone that told Johnny there was more to this than just a simple statement of taste. 
               ‘Me neither’ said Johnny hoping his agreement would stymie any impending rant, it didn't. The pub's music system was playing Katie Perry and despite their disapproval, both men were singing along to the chorus.
               ‘It just doesn't make sense,’ Steve stated, ‘I think firework is meant to be a compliment, but who wants to be compared to a firework?’ His question was rhetorical but for once Johnny managed to get a word in edge ways. 
               ‘Well, I can think of worse things?’  
               ‘Really?’ Steve looked genuinely surprised.  ‘Really! Think about a firework, it goes off with a bang, creates a few oos and aahs, and then burns out leaving a sense of anti-climax. Also how many fireworks turn out to be duds, damp squibs, never get to go off at all? If my girlfriend compared me to a rocket or a Catherine wheel, I'd think she was sending me a message about my performance.’ Steve took a swig of beer but didn’t stay silent for long enough to allow Johnny to form a response. ‘Then of course if you think about it, fireworks are only really effective if there is more than one. So again,  what kind of message is that?’ 

               ‘I don't think she means it like that though,’ said Johnny.

               ‘You have to read between the lines, my friend, read between the lines. I’d been genuinely hurt if I was called a firework.’ 

Johnny shook his head, sometimes there were no lines to read between, no hidden messages, just pointless lyrics to meaningless songs. He decided to let it go taking one last swig of his beer and heading to the bar for a refill without another word.