fancy a quick drink after work?

It's our favourite pastime on a hot summer evening. It starts with a swift half - it ends with last orders. And in between, the drink and conversation just keeps coming. Matthew Brace buys a round and listens in
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Indy Lifestyle Online
LIVERPOOL Tuesday 4 June

COOPERS, OFF RANELAGH STREET, 6.45pm

THE DRINKERS (left to right): Paul Jamieson, 37 (pint of cider); Lisa Hughes, 27 (pint of lager); and Lorraine Daulby, 24 (whisky and lemonade). They work at the customer services department of Royal Insurance.

THE CONVERSATION PAUL: What are we talking about? You wouldn't believe us if we told you. Animal pornography. Lisa started it

LISA: You liar. This all started off when we were talking about fetishes.

PAUL: So far we've discussed horses, pigs and dogs. But when we're not talking about this, we'll be talking about work. Lorraine talks about work continually.

LORRAINE: I do not. Thanks a lot.

PAUL: We've also been talking about some of the blokes in this pub. You get quite a few old dodgy sailors in here. There's one bloke who was telling us that he was at sea and when his ship docked in Los Angeles he became Frank Sinatra's valet. Oh, it's quite a sophisticated crowd in here you know.

LISA: I wish it was.

(The evening calm is broken by sirens and armed police chasing an armed robber down an alleyway opposite)

THE NEXT ROUND?

PAUL: Well, looking at those coppers with their machine guns, I'd say our evening is about to come to an abrupt end. This doesn't happen in Liverpool all the time you know. Honest. [to armed police] Excuse me, would you like us to move somewhere else

LISA: Some nights we arrange "do's" after work, We used to organise trips to comedy clubs and the theatre ...

PAUL: ... but tonight we're just going home. I'll be wandering back to my house, all by myself. It's like Great Expectations my house. Very dark and just me rattling around in it.

THE GRAPES IN MATHEW STREET 7.45pm

THE DRINKERS (l to r): Neil Pamment, 35 (pint of lager), and Alan McSherry, 31 (pint of lager) are a courier and his boss; Ian Wilson, 32 (pint of lager) is an "industrial rope access worker"

THE CONVERSATION

ALAN: This is a story about three disappointed climbers. It's the first day of summer and we didn't even sort out a half-day's climbing. I'm a courier for Deva Deliveries in Chester. A job came in to go to Peterborough. I rang a friend who was off and said we'd climb in Derbyshire on my way back. Guess what happens: M6 - van breaks down and we have to get a tow back to Chester. So we've ended up doing nothing, no climbing, and we're sitting here drowning our sorrows.

IAN: We're putting the world to rights, putting everything to rights actually. I've been talking about my trip. I'm off to Greenland soon to go climbing.

ALAN: We work to climb - simple as that.

THE NEXT ROUND?

ALAN: I think we're going to stay here and then go home. I'm married, Neil's gay ...

NEIL: Yeah, I live with another bloke.

ALAN: ... and Ian's sad and single. We don't usually go to nightclubs. We're not young enough.

NEIL: But we go for a beer every night after work.

ALAN: Yeah and we drink about a gallon.

NEIL: Not every night.

ALAN: We are the gallon men, that's what we call ourselves.

LONDON Wednesday 5 June

THE OLD RED LION, WHITEHALL 6.15pm

THE DRINKERS: Rob Wilkinson (left), 25 (pint of Carlsberg), and Glenn Calderwood, 32 (half of cider) work for the parliamentary Human Rights Group. Rob's girlfriend, Miranda Clarke, 27, is a water engineer.

THE CONVERSATION:

ROB: We're discussing the assassination of Iranian dissidents overseas. Well, you did ask. There's been about ... Gosh, I've lost count of how many have been killed. The secret service tracks them down and shoots them.

GLENN: I've been working on security arrangements for a special guest who's coming to the House of Lords tomorrow. I've been walking the route he will take and making sure everything's in order. I can't tell you his name, but if I said Yasser Arafat was in London tomorrow meeting John Major, you could probably guess it from that.

MIRANDA: I was just saying that one of the members of Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief, a voluntary group I work for, was killed at the TT Races at the weekend, so I had to put a last-minute obituary in the newsletter. It was very sad.

THE NEXT ROUND?

ROB: We're all going to a meeting, right now in fact. It's a reception for the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

GLENN: So we popped in here for a quick drink first.

ROB: A quick pint can't do any harm.

GLENN: It's been a long day; we'll probably all head home afterwards. But you never know - it's a lovely evening, so we might go for another drink.

THE CROWN, OFF NEW OXFORD STREET 7.35pm

THE DRINKERS Jackie Kenny, 27 (bottle of lager) and Mark Ford, 30 (pint of bitter) are probation officers.

THE CONVERSATION

JACKIE: We were just debating whether I should get into football because my boyfriend is heavily into it and what with the Euro 96 coming up and everything ...

MARK: ... and I was complaining that women can get away with wearing hardly any clothes in the summer, but blokes can't and I'm really hot.

THE NEXT ROUND?

JACKIE: Well, I'm quite excited because I'm seeing my American friend from Washington, who I haven't seen for a year and she's in a band called Jawbox - they're kind of grungey/ American hard core - who are playing at the Astoria and we're on the guest list.

MARK: They're supporting a band called Rocket from the Crypt.

JACKIE: After the concert we'll see her and probably go for some more drinks.

THE CAMBRIDGE GOODGE STREET 8.30pm

THE DRINKERS: Dee Butterly, 47 (mineral water), has popped over the road from the Middlesex Hospital, where she is a patient. Her partner Arthur Garratt, 58 (half of lager), is a wine sales rep.

THE CONVERSATION

DEE: He's been telling me how much wine he's sold ... or not sold ...

ARTHUR: Well, thank you very much.

DEE: ... and I've been talking about my knee operation. The only exciting thing that happened to me today was when the doctors came and measured my leg.

ARTHUR: I've been moaning about the traffic. Today I went to EC1, EC2, N12, and then two more trips to EC2. People just won't move themselves.

DEE: We're not married by the way, we live in sin.

ARTHUR: It's much better if you ask me.

DEE: Yes, but he'd marry me tomorrow if I asked him. I'll marry him if he wins the Lottery.

THE NEXT ROUND?

ARTHUR: Well, we're going to have another drink here and then I'll take Dee back to the hospital and go home.

DEE: I can't stay too long. I'll be in trouble with the doctors.

OXFORD Thursday 6 June

THE CROWN, CORNMARKET, 7.00pm THE DRINKERS: Antonia Layard, 28 (vodka and tonic), is a university researcher at Mansfield College. Her boyfriend Pete Terrington, 24 (gin and tonic), runs a charity for handicapped children.

THE CONVERSATION

PETE: We're chatting about the fund-raising event I've been organising - three people are going to run up the Three Peaks and cycle the bits in-between, all in 36 hours. Mostly we bitch about work, though. Oh yeah, and I was just saying that some of the kids are going to get professional tennis coaching at Wimbledon this year, which is great. How did I swing that? I kissed arse.

ANTONIA: This is my lunch break. I've not got much to say about my day - too awful. I marked essays, wrote some reports and worked on my DPhil.

THE NEXT ROUND

ANTONIA: We are going to the theatre.

PETE: To see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

CARDIFF Friday 7June

THE CARDIFF CYBERCAFE, DUKE STREET 5.30pm

THE DRINKERS: Esther Phillips, 23, and her boyfriend Max Kenna, 22, are drinking coffee and playing to the death on a computer game called Doom.

THE CONVERSATION

ESTHER: I've been complaining about how he's just killed me again and have been telling him about my unsuccessful job-hunting ... Oh no, you've done it again. I'm dead again.

MAX: It's your fault for using a rocket launcher instead of guns.

ESTHER: That's me on the floor with all the blood. I'm not very good at this. I usually go down the Bingo after work.

MAX: I'm in the Army, in the 37th Royal Signal Regiment, so I've probably got an advantage in this game with guns.

THE NEXT ROUND?

MAX: We might go for a drink after this.

ESTHER: I don't like going to pubs much. I don't see the point. Oh no, that's it, my game's over. I've got no lives left.

WELLINGTONS, CAROLINE STREET 6.45pm THE DRINKERS (l to r): Cheryl Hurd, 29 (half of lager), Glynne Merrick, 35 (pint of lager), Tina Shepherd, Ian Jenkins, 43 (pint of lager), Larry Weaver and Graeme Brown, (pint of bitter), all work for Royal Mail. They are celebrating Graeme's 40th birthday.

THE CONVERSATION:

GRAEME: We're all talking about our future. The possibility of strike action, the threat to jobs and the inability of management to communicate in the communication business.

IAN: And Cheryl and Glynne have been talking about sex.

CHERYL: No we haven't.

GLYNNE: Yeah, don't say that. I'll get in trouble. We've been talking about work.

GRAEME: I know people in London all think we have strange relationships with sheep and we're all members of Male Voice Choirs, but it's actually a load of bullshit. This city is the centre of Europe.

IAN: Centre of the universe.

THE NEXT ROUND?

GRAEME: More beer, chicken tandoori, chicken tikka ... What else is there on a Friday night?

AND WHERE WERE YOU LAST NIGHT?

Max Clifford, publicist: I was in the Red Fort in Dean Street, Soho, with my wife. We talked about how much Bournemouth has changed - we went there for our honeymoon and had just been back for the first time in 29 years. I don't drink, so I had my usual lime and mineral water.

Lily Savage (aka Paul O'Grady): I'm on tour so I go on the piss every night. Last night was the worst: I was in the bar of Liverpool's Moat House Hotel with the actress Maggie Kirkpatrick. We talked total rubbish - everything from The Avengers to what so- and-so said to so-and-so. I drank ordinary cider, none of this designer crap. We were up all night and got paralytic. I fell over and Maggie swore at a nun.

Karren Brady, managing director, Birmingham City FC: I went to the Black Boy pub in Knowle, Solihull, with my best friend. We talked about fitness and my new baby, Sophia. I drank orange juice because I'm on a diet.

Jonathan Coleman, Virgin Radio breakfast DJ: I went to a pub round the corner with Simon Nye, the writer of Men Behaving Badly. We talked about Euro 96. I've decided to support Scotland to please our Scottish listeners and to annoy Russ Johnson, who I work with. I always start with a pint of lager and then go on to bottles because it makes me think I'm drinking less. I got through pounds 40 and got home at 10.30pm, so it wasn't too bad. But if I keep this up I'll end up looking like Chris Tarrant.

Derek Jameson, broadcaster: I was alone in the Trattoria Travi in Glasgow. I talked about football with the waiters. Is the media vendetta against the England team justified? Will Gazza be good for England? I don't drink, though, and it was before work - we broadcast in the evenings.

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