The bouncer, his face a knot of surly scars and surly disposition, growled the words that set us to moving on through the cold dark night. “That’s four pounds, please.”
The streets of Edinburgh were a crowded place last night. From students in all-advised clothes of dubious warmth to kilt-clad prom-goers.
The wind whipped through cobbled streets, moaning, push us forward. We were in search of a pub. An action, which in Edinburgh, stuffed full of the damn things, wouldn’t seem to be quite difficult.
Oh, but it was.
After channeling our inner high schooler by ne’erdowelling in a public park, we happy few, we corps of those unwilling to yet call it a night, to throw in the towel, were wandering the streets.
Rumours of promised lands flowed ahead, their footing fleet, their warmth promising.
“Just ahead,” they promised.
“Open til three,” they urged.
“Not crowded,” they lied.
Like the beginning of a bad joke, three English, three Irish, two Americans and an Austrian sought refuge from the cruel-bladed winds of Scotland.
Failure meant the warmth of home, the solace of bed, but it was still failure. Victory was a pint in some nebulous place.
It had become less a thing of need for the pub, although that played a role. Now pride was at stake. We would triumph in our search, our quest.
In the end we had our victory, we had our triumph. A pub by the name of the Royal Oak had open doors, flooded wall to wall with tourists and locals alike. Drunken Scots sang ballads about Guinness and the heather of home.
We lingered for a time, basking in the glow of a task well accomplished.
Then we were chucked out.
“The Royal Oak” is actually quite a common name for a pub in the UK. It is kind of amusing because in South Africa “Oke” is often used to refer to a guy (Root is probably in the word “Bloke” I would guess). As such one of my friends once remarked “I really like England, got a lot of Royal Okes in it”.