What should have been a quiet pint with Mad Mark so I could lend him some ski gear turned out to be a night so random that it makes the Cauchy distribution look normal (there's a gag for all you stats nerds out there).
Things started normally enough at the mutually convenient Faltering Fullback: "What are you drinking? 2 pints of Pride please. How was your week? yada yada yada." So far so normal for a quick Friday pint.
"Been following the cricket?" In retrospect, that's where it all started. While discussing the Aussie's surprising dominance in South Africa, the chap at the next table came over, and with a "You discussing cricket?" joined in our conversation. Again, so far, so normal for drinks in a London pub. A pint and a chat about sport are unifying forces for the London pub-going male population. People who might otherwise stab you on the tube are suddenly bosom buddies. We humoured him for a while, did some mutual colonial/pom-bashing, then his phone rang and he disappeared. All fine. Mad Mark and I returned to other topics of conversation...
Not long after, Barney (for that is his name) returned. Smoking. And said, "If you see a short kiwi girl coming up the stairs, I'm not here." Given that we were sitting directly at the top of the stairs, I figured this to be some sort of joke game of hide-and-seek and he wasn't particularly keen on winning. Mark and I returned to normal conversation, and Barney sucked down his cancer stick.
Within the time it takes to smoke half a fag, the short kiwi girl came up the stairs. She saw Barney, cigarette in hand, and immediately joined our table and started laying into him. Mark and I couldn't believe it - for the price of a pint, we were getting our drinks and domestic dispute dinner theatre thrown in. Awesome. To summarise: Saskia (the diminutive kiwi) has issues with smokers - it's not the smoking per se, but an ex was a smoker, and there are obviously some latent issues remaining, and she can't stand the thought of being with another smoker. Barney, for his part, has a stubborn streak and some sense of pride, and if he wants to smoke, goddamit woman, he's going to smoke! Mark and I couldn't believe our luck and sat back to enjoy the show.
But this was a full 3 act play, and we were yet to meet the clown. Some English guy who had played pool with Saskia, and clearly fancied his chances, came to join us after Barney had left in a fit of nicotine-induced pride. Saskia was dismissive, the Englishman was oblivious, and Mark turned offensive. I was pissing myself. It was about this stage that Saskia asked me:"Are you in Powderfinger?" ...
So much for my alcohol-free month. When there's entertainment like this to be had at your local boozer, why would you stay sober?