There were two drunks in the road as I came back from the 24hr supermarket. I walked straight past the first but the second stepped up from the gutter and glared at me.
I said hello, which momentarily confused him, and carried on walking.
‘Who are you starting with?’ he said.
‘Not you,’ I replied.
‘I’ll fight you!’ he shouted at my back. I knew that if I turned round he probably would, so I kept moving, wondering which of the two things I was carrying would make the more effective weapon – the baguette or the tin of beans.
There was a small, drunk Scotsman in the toilets of the pub. He was leaning in close to a tall man standing at the urinal.
‘See, Rangers is a part of life where I’m from.’
The tall man turned away and buttoned up his flies.
‘I am from Estonia,’ he said. ‘I do not give a shit about football.’
‘Think about all the fans, man. They cannae let Rangers go under.’
‘Please understand. I don’t care,’ the Estonian said and walked out.
The Scotsman looked around and spotted me at the sink. ‘Hey,’ he said.
‘Sorry, no English,’ I replied.
In Plymouth town centre at 10pm there’s a smurf, Papa Lazarou and a rugby club dressed in St Trinians outfits. Five youths all wearing tight white T-shirts and designer jeans stride past a grizzled old man with leathery skin, patchy white stubble and a woollen cap. He walks with a stoop; a carrier bag in one hand, a litre bottle of scrumpy in the other.
‘Hey. Hey!’ he shouts at the five lads, ‘are you English?’
They make sure they’re well past him before one shouts back ‘no’ in a public school accent.
‘Must be submariners then,’ mumbles the man.
There’s a dark pub with low ceilings that sells cheap shots of Jägermeister and is packed during term time. The management cultivates its popularity with students by pinning photos above the bar and leaving one wall empty for graffiti. The young people write slogans and sign their names to prove the pub’s authenticity – it’s their special place, they belong here.
Just before Freshers’ Week, the photos above the bar have gone and the walls are newly whitewashed. There’s a camera and a set of marker pens on a shelf by the optics ready for the next batch of customers.
The pub is empty apart from an elderly man in an electric wheelchair who’s on his fourth Guinness. The lad behind the bar fetches me a dusty bottle of Magners.
‘I’ve never sold one of these before. Is that enough ice?’ he says.
As I’m finishing my drink, the lad’s shift ends. On his way out he goes to the aid of the man in the wheelchair who’s too drunk to manoeuvre through the door. The lad can’t help much as he’s trying to keep hold of the bottle of Magners that he’s got hidden under his jacket.
The man in the shop at 8.30 this morning looked pretty smart. He was wearing designer jeans, a thin trendy jumper and black-rimmed glasses. I liked his style – he was sporting the same ‘Norwegian Fisherman’ beard that I have. I stood behind him in the queue; all he bought was a bottle of Listerine. Close up, I noticed that his jumper had several holes in the back and there was a strong musty smell coming off him. When I left the shop, I drove past him round the corner. He was hiding behind a phone box, gulping down the mouthwash.