Ah my heart is full tonight

A light solitary pub crawl. The Duke of Wellington, the Marlborough Arms, the Cottage. Half a mild in each while I try to figure out my Danish taxes on my laptop, logging into the Danish systems, getting nowhere, feeling childish.

Home, to the White Lion. It’s music night: about fifty people from all over Norfolk come together to play folk music with all sorts of instruments, from concertinas to clarinets. They’re old hands, it’s clear they’ve played for years. The youngsters stand on the outskirts with their instruments, learning.

I play billiards with Oscar the landlord before we’re crowded out by the musicians. He tells me he’s won City Pub of the Year, finally ending the hegemony of the Fat Cat. I stop up, cue in hand, moved. You deserve it, I say. We had the award event here on Saturday, he says, didn’t you know? I was away for the funeral, I say.

At the bar I speak to an old-timer from the Norwich Society who leads guided walks though the city. He tells me about Bishop’s Bridge, the plague house in Tombland, the Jewish blood libel, and I tell him about Danish place names. I make a mental note to join his walk in May. You can learn a lot from people like him.

Julian, an ex-Labour councillor with a big white beard, comes in and orders two pints, as he usually does just before closing time. I tell him the news, but of course he already knows: he knows all there is to know about Norwich pubs. We chat for a bit about what they must have been like, the pubs on Oak Street from the 1700s onwards. No doubt there were taverns here centuries before then, we agree, even before the Cathedral was built, even before the Vikings came. We chat a bit more, he tells me how to vote in the upcoming local elections. I raise my hand towards the bar to general goodnights and walk home.

Ah my heart is full tonight.

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