There was once in my life a seedy pub, on a seedy street, which did not encourage strangers. The landlord was tired of it all, waiting for the brewery to bribe him to retire, and content with a customer base of half a dozen old men.
One of these old men was my Father, who was dying, so I went to the pub to try to encourage him to eat. The landlady was not jaded at all, and willing to cook lunches, in the unlikely event of her being asked to. My Father had collapsed in mind and body after my Mother had died the year before. He would attempt a lamb chop with chips and peas if it was put in front of him.
Apart from my Father, the only other people who ate there were a pair of young secretaries from the law practice across the road. Every week day both of them would demolish an enormous lunch, each talking so furiously together it was hard to see where they found time to shovel their food in. It was a delight to witness such greed for life, under the circumstances.
What passing trade there was came in to use the pay-phone. It is hard to conceive of now that cell phones are ubiquitous how suddenly they have overwhelmed us and how recently it was that you had a home phone or nothing, and the people who had nothing thereabouts had to come in and boom their personal affairs across the empty saloon bar. One of the nick names the old regulars had for the pub was “the largest phone booth in London”.