On a Saturday afternoon The Ship comes into its own.
This is not a pub that shows sport on the big screen. It’s not a pub that offers lunch, two courses for twelve pounds. There is no espresso machine behind the bar, and no trained barista. There is no menu of speciality tea. The garden is not a sun trap in the heart of the city. It is not a garden. It’s a yard; somewhere to stand and smoke before heading back inside. And inside is as gloomy on the brightest day of summer as it is on the darkest day of winter. The wood panelled walls and low ceilings designed to soak up the light, leaving enough to see your drink, but not the faces of other drinkers.
It offers nothing but the promise of a drink.
During the week that’s enough. During the week it’s a pub of convenience. The Ship is that place just round the corner, a bit grim, but there’s only time for a swift one, so it may as well be there.
On a Saturday afternoon it’s convenient for no one.
There are no couples surrounded by shopping bags, her with a well deserved gin and slimline, him a well deserved pint. There are no families with teenagers lost in their phones sipping full fat coke as their parents despair of ever reaching them again. No retirees taking a frugal lunch, discussing the quality of the pasta bake and the latest on his angina. No groups of lads on their way to the football, full to overflowing with banter and lager.
On a Saturday afternoon no one just pops in.
On a Saturday afternoon The Ship belongs to those for whom the promise of a drink is more than enough.