We all know that pubs are sociable places and that, therefore an interest in good beer is a very healthy hobby for a growing boy.
But what if, for a variety of boring reasons you find yourself starved of suitable drinking partners? What if wandering into a pub and striking up a conversation with the jolly locals fills you with a sense of creeping dread?
Surely there is room in this crazy old world for someone who likes pub crawls, nice boozers, quality beer produce and yet, oh and yet is not ready for either professional alcoholism or a flat cap and pint of brown ale supped sadly in the corner?
Since the onset of parenthood (and the accompanying reduced wallet thickness) I have fought to establish new beer drinking routines, but the one constant has been that planning in advance is very difficult. This therefore discounts the chance to organise pub crawls and meet ups with chums in advance. When I am able to get out, no one else is about, so this has seen the rise of a new phenomen - the stolen crawl.
What is the stolen crawl? Well, when wife and daughter are out for the afternoon, then suddenly an opportunity has presented itself, so it's straight onto Google maps, cross referenced with the bus route finder and with a quick nose through Ratebeer places and beerinthevening, to find pubs which are both reasonable and reachable. With a window of 2-3 hours (or even less) I have grown rather proficient at hitting lots of pubs, with a military mindset - Bus > pub > drink half > next pub > drink half > home (etc).
Now this is all rather positive, but I do have the persistent nagging feeling that I am completely missing the point: after all I don't talk to anyone during the crawl (save barstaff), so is the experience of the good beers I sample diminished? I tend to think not, for I am anti-social at heart, but I worry how I am viewed by others.
What worries me more, is that I am actually growing to love drinking on my own. I set the pace of my drinking, meaning that my legendarily low constitution is not exposed. I also choose the route and speed of the crawl, satisfying my curiosity for new pubs, without dragging others in my wake. I am also allowed to behave in a baffling manner, as and when I choose - i.e. leaving a wonderful pub, to go and sample horrible produce in a hovel; just so I can mark off another venue as 'done'.
What would Morrissey think of it all? I think I need to feel comfortable in my own drinking skin.