The pub was called ‘The Boxer’, named after a famous boxer who drank there regularly back in the fifties. The walls were covered with framed black and white photos of boxers. Most struck the same pose: a quizzical, barechested look at the camera, gloved hands raised hesistantly at their unorthodox opponent. Not one of the staff members could tell you which one was the boxer, the guy the place was named after. He was there somewhere, they said.
Neither Adrian nor Diana had drunk there before, making it a perfect place for a second date, they both agreed. Adrian used to frequent a wine bar just round the corner, behind the station, he was telling Diana. But he had never been here before.
His sister had been here before, he said. She isn’t really one for pubs, alcohol makes her gag, she always says, he said. Even the smell, so a recommendation from her is never to be taken lightly. Not that she recommended the place, he said, she just mentioned it.
His sister rarely comes this side of the river these days, she has a thing for transport. Going underground, he said, she can’t help imagining the tunnels caving in and flooding and going over the bridges she says she can’t put her faith in the whole thing not simply collapsing and drowning her, either way. She has a thing for things manmade, doesn’t trust the lot of them, he said.
That rules out quite a lot, Diana said.
Yes, he said. She also doesn’t like tomatoes. It’s an allergy, she says, he said.
Oh well that rules out quite a lot too, Diana said.
The bar manager looks like a boxer, like he might have stepped foot in the ring in his time. He seems too old for it now, but you have to wonder. Wonder if he has ever, or wonder if he was hired on account of looking like he has ever.
Not something I buy regularly either, mind you. I buy potatoes, onions, courgettes, occasionally green beans or mange tout. And that’s it, he said.
Not peppers, Diana said.
Oh, plenty of green and red peppers, he said.
In the gents toilets, a pair of red boxing gloves hangs above the two urinals. There are no photographs in the toilets, but there are a couple of old posters, also framed, advertising boxing matches from the twenties and thirties, matches between fighters like Big Sonny and Mushy Callahan and the like. You have to wonder if these were here when the old boy, the boxer, used to drink here, and you have to wonder if he liked boxing, if he was into it, before drinking here, or if drinking here got him into the game, what with the posters planting ideas into a young head that may or may not have had a few.
I can honestly say that I have never once bought a lettuce, he said.
Not carrots, Diana said.