Close to our ancient lodgings in the parish of Norwich-across-the-water is an Irish pub called ‘Delaney’s’. Gawd knows why it’s described as an Irish bar. It sells Guinness but otherwise looks like a run-of-the-mill pub to me. One thing in its favour is a late licence. After a disappointing bite at the über-trendy Bicycle restaurant, we passed Delaney’s welcome mat and Liam persuaded me to have a final snifter (not much of a stretch, I know). We took up pole position at the end of the bar and eyed the pubscape of squiffy painted Norfolk broadettes, Primark neo-chavs, indebted bedsit students and bewildered tourists. The only fly in the otherwise tasty ointment was the wasp-chewing landlady surveying the jovial scene from behind the bar with her arms folded. A couple of drinkers away, a dandily-dressed Italian ordered a pint but then realised he didn’t have enough pennies to pay for it. He proffered plastic instead.
“Five quid minimum spend,” growled the slapped-arse face.
“I’ll have two pints, then,” he replied warmly.
She was having none of it. “No chance!” she barked.
The bemused Italian, still smiling, asked what the problem was. He even offered to give one drink to the stranger to his right. Clearly not a woman to be crossed, she dismissed him with a wave and scuttled off to serve another punter. Refusing to submit, he persisted with his friendly inquisition. Her faced reddened, her eyes narrowed and her thin lips pursed. The whippersnapper’s challenge was stoking her fire and not in good way. Finally, the fiery redhead could take no more and blew her stack, screaming in true Peggy Mitchell style:
“You’re barred. Get out of my pub!”
He stood his ground for a little longer but eventually gave up with a shrug and left. Not wishing to suffer the same fate, we supped our frothy pints and watched our Ps and Qs. Ten minutes later, Mr Persistent returned in triumph waving a ten pound note. It had no effect. The lippy landlady just chucked him a cold shoulder and no one else dared to serve him. The battle of wills continued. He stood at the bar for a good thirty minutes, casting broad smiles and boundless charm. Then suddenly, as the crowd looked on, his dogged tenacity melted the harridan’s icy heart. She smiled, pulled him a pint, slapped it on the counter and waved the tenner away.
All’s well that ends well. Who needs EastEnders when you’ve got Delaney’s of Norwich?
Update 2015: Sadly Delaney’s and the harridan are no more. The pub’s been converted into a Shoreditchesque gastropub called St Andrew’s Brew House and the flame-haired landlady has entered a nunnery.