The Big Smoke

smoky pubI step out of the deluge and into a smoky London pub and feel a sense of disconnect. Strange. Smoking was banned in pubs years ago. Then I look around and realise why. It’s some kind of tourist attraction. There’s an old radio blaring out some 1940s music and everyone’s in costume — except for an older couple standing at the bar. Good, it appears to be functional. I could use a drink.

“A whisky, please.”

The barman gives me a quizzical look. “You can have a beer and like it. Don’t you know there’s a war on? And seein’ as you’re a stranger, your first glass is on the house.”

I take my beer and find an empty seat, taking a healthy swig as I sit. I’m so glad I didn’t pay for this, it’s vile. I finish up and decide to leave; the rain has stopped. I stand for a moment on the threshold and watch the people hurrying home. The still-wet pavement glistens in the evening light.

That’s when the bombs fall.

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