I like Friday evenings. They signal the end of the working week for me and usher in expectations of what the French call ‘le weekend’ (or is it 'la'?). As I alight from my train and leave Norwich station there is a spring in my step. The sun is shining and I feel a pint beckoning. The only pub between me and home is a Spoon’s. But no worries, it serves a purpose and ensures that I don’t dally for longer than the one pint. As I walk towards Riverside my usual ‘beggar’* is sitting on the ground under the covered walkway. He’s an old black* guy who wears a buff, going grey, duffle coat and cowers under a filthy blanket. I give him a quid, as I always do, he blesses my heart. My heart needs blessing. It harbours anger, anger at the extremes of wealth in this country, extremes that anyone with but a modicum of compassion could not fail to question. I’ve tried engaging him in conversation on previous occasions but my lack of communicative skills along with his reticence has meant we haven’t got very far.
I enter The Queen of Iceni and order a pint of Nethergate Lemon Head; a golden ale with a hint of lemon and ginger. I hand the bar man some cash and a Camra 50p off token. He asks to see my Camra membership card. This is a first. I ask if people have been abusing the scheme. Apparently they have. The previous weekend a football fan had allegedly tried to buy a round of drinks with a whole wad of tokens. Subtle or what? The bar man then went on to tell me that the tokens were readily available on the internet, “on sites like eBay”. Whilst not surprised, I felt sad. Regardless of whom the perpetrators are it impacts badly on Camra. You can also apparently purchase pre stamped loyalty cards that entitle you to a free cup of coffee. As I sit enjoying my pint I ponder on life, the universe and tokens. It’s a rum old dog eat dog world out there. Thank goodness for beer!
This is how it was the Friday before last.
*Not sure if all my language is totally pc!?