Experiment No. 4

WALKING PUB TRIP – 10.11.2020

On a Tuesday evening, a few days into lockdown 2.0, I met up with a friend, Jess, and we went for a wander through London. We bought g&ts in a supermarket we passed along the way and joked that we didn’t need to sit down with a drink in order to have the pub experience. Exercising outside with a member of another household is allowed: walking, talking, and occasionally taking sips of a nice drink is therefore well within the rules.

As we wandered through central, walking from Oxford Street to Marylebone, via Pall Mall and Piccadilly Circus, we remarked on how normal it had become to see the city so empty of other people. Some shops had boarded up their windows and others had shuttered over their displays. Jess told me how on the way to meet me, she had seen shop workers being taught how to decorate the store windows with Christmas decorations. I imagined them walking around the glassy display, noiseless and mute to the outside world, readying a shop for a time which they may never be open in. On New Bond Street, some designer shops had drawn translucent curtains across their windows. The displays within continued to glitter behind the material, creating luminous patches of light and piercing gaps in the curtain.

Stepping off New Bond Street and walking down into Lancashire Court, we walked past a couple on a socially distanced date. They were hidden away in the narrow street, which would normally be teeming with bar goers, drinking their pints and cocktails out on the pavement. Instead, it was quiet apart from the laughter of the couple. They sat on the steps of the bar entrance and shared a bottle of wine, each holding a glass.

Then, we walked through the outdoor seating area of a cocktail bar. It was now closed, although the lights were on inside and there was someone sitting at one of the tables, working on their laptop. Jess and I meandered through the arch of fake flowers which marked the entrance to the outdoor section of the bar, over the astro turf and between the floral pillars which demarcated the territory of the seating area, and out through another arch of flowers to exit. Music blared from the speakers above: all that was missing were the customers.

As we walked, we caught up on each other’s lives and drank our tin can gin and tonics. We remarked on how we hoped to be back in a pub soon, whether we were allowed inside or not. But we also appreciated the surrealism of the experience, as we took ‘the pub’ for a walk.

Julia Lasica. With thanks to Jess.