"There's no smoke without fire," was the response to my denial about some lies put around about me a few months ago, and her saying this made me realise that I had been deluded about my pub friendships and what they really meant.
It is a sort of set-back to understand that these sort of relationships are almost always founded on the basis of 'you tolerate me, and I'll tolerate you' deals.
One of my oldest pub friends recently reacted badly to a somewhat lewd and jokey photo that I passed on from another London friend via text message. It is the sort of vintage photo of a semi-naked woman that would only raise one eyebrow of the average Google Blogger, so I was somewhat surprised that he reacted so badly to it, especially as I had - that very evening - been forced to listen to him speculating about what a young lesbian couple seated nearby might do to each other when they went home.
He sent me a series of outraged messages culminating in the sentence, ' I don't want this sort of thing - especially from you - Yuk', with an emoji of a pile of shit with a face on it. It was then that I got a glimpse of the way I am truly viewed and talked about when I am not around. There is, apparently, no smoke without fire.
I have never had any illusions about friendships formed exclusively in an environment which sells alcohol, and I know that most of my true friends are only ever seen about once a year. The thing is that I really don't want to go straight home after work and begin cooking before going to bed and doing the whole thing all over again the next day - I need a diversion - some harmless and trivial chat with a few like people over one or two pints of beer, trying to avoid the true alcoholics who always frequent pubs.
So I have spent the last week going into some of the other many bars and pubs that Bath has, sitting on my own and keeping myself to myself. I don't know how long I can keep this up, but I am so fed up with the confrontational issues which would crop up if I - once again - fought my corner and refuted the whispered lies and accusations all over again. It isn't as if they are anything serious. If they were, then I would sort it out once and for all.
The night before last, I went into All Bar One and found myself sitting close to a party of about eight off-duty taxi-drivers, whose rank is over the road by the Abbey.
You know how awful it is to be trapped in a cab, listening to the neo-fascist rants of a white, shaven-headed cabbie? Well multiply that by eight and you will understand that this was hardly the relaxing after work drink I had planned.
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