How far will I go for a table at my favourite pub on 12 April? It’s been like planning a heist | Zoe Williams


The pubs in England are back in business on Monday, and I’ve been planning this day for weeks. I’ve spent my life on the other side of this fence – the person trying to book a mini break two days before Valentine’s Day, or buy Easter eggs on Good Friday, shaking my fist at the skies, crying: “When did everybody else become so organised?” A huge amount of embedded expertise has brought me to this magnificent situation, the person with the table booked for a reasonable hour that isn’t mid-afternoon, in the best pub in the postcode and possibly the whole city.

I don’t just have the barman’s number on my phone; I’ve been to his house. S isn’t the chief barperson but he’s the nicest, and also the most conscientious – his traits rather than mine, but I think we have to pause for a second to consider my excellent character judgment. And so it came to pass that I had an alert on my phone for the first hour of the first day they were taking bookings, like it was Glastonbury. I know which table we’re at, and could calculate its distance from the outdoor heater. If you saw the amount of text traffic between me and S, you’d think we were planning a heist.

Inevitably – because it’s sod’s law – pubs reopen on the birthday of my most introverted and pessimistic friend. Or maybe it’s just the raw realities of astrology, and this is what happens when the great unlocking falls bang under Aries. If only this government would think things through!

My friend checks the weather constantly. “It’s going to be 1C. And raining.”

“They have heaters and a pagoda,” I tell him.

He’s planning to wrap up like an extra in The Terror, while I am seriously considering having my ears pierced in the afternoon. He imagines the worst. “Pitch dark, nobody will come.”

“It’s British Summer Time, and if you ask them, they will come!”

That’s right – I’m channelling Kevin Costner.

There is just one more star yet to align in my firmament of perfection – I have to not go to my second favourite pub at lunchtime. Plainly we can’t know that until the day itself.



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