I was slumped over the bar counter with my straight up scotch (no ice; who the hell puts ice in scotch except North Americans?) The female bartender – they don’t call them barmaids in North America, as we Brits do with our taste for economy of form and less political correctness – was sitting on a stool filing her nails. A woman came in and began re-arranging the bar mats all along the counter, doing so with great diligence and purpose until she was sure they were all in precisely the right place. The female bartender looked at me and shrugged; I did the knowing look in return.
She was the same bartender who took my payment for a drink, then kept the change by way of a tip. I didn’t complain, but exercised discretion. ‘Never knock the natives until you know them,’ I thought. Which is probably a good way to think.
I do miss Zoe, though. Something she said to me about three years ago gave me the biggest high I’ve had in the last twenty years. Pity I wasn’t up to the task of returning the favour. Fools and North Americans rush in where angels and Europeans fear to tread.