When Kevin Tasker announced “I don’t drink” to the guys assembled at the bar of the Rose and Crown, at the start of what looked like being a convivial after-work session, early Friday evening, he cast a pall over proceedings that three rounds of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord bitter and whisky chasers failed to dispel.
Bob Foster was there that evening. “When a guy says ‘I don’t drink’, I don’t even know what that means. He doesn’t socialise? He’s foresworn liquids?” Bob shook his head, and ordered another round.
Colin Gilmore, a work colleague, was equally dismissive. “When a guy says he doesn’t drink, it always sounds so smug. It’s like he’s judging you, which just makes you want to drink more. Same again, lads?”
For Jim Carstairs the very idea of teetotalism was anathma. “When a guy says ‘I don’t drink’, you wonder what he does instead. How does he cope with that aching void in his life that only alcohol can fill? Christ, avoiding awkward questions like that is precisely why I come to the pub in the first place.”
Watching someone sipping a glass of Coke made Graham Parker feel queasy too. “There’s no excuse. It’s not like he’s driving or anything. In a straight choice between having a pint and not having a pint, he announces, bold as brass, that he doesn’t drink. Another beer? No, not for me. I think I’ll have an early night”...