It is probably not wise to judge an individual by first appearances, but my initial opinion was that he had a kindly face. Perhaps slightly piggy eyes, if I am being over-critical, but made up for by the bushy white moustache, which added a touch of gravitas. And anyone who can wear a red-and-white pom-pom hat and lederhosen must have a good sense of humour.
This was the ‘man in a box’. The distinctive bar-pump icon for Ayingerbrau––later Alpine––Lager. It was a staple in the Sam Smith pub, which I used to regularly frequent.
Asking for a pint of ‘man in a box’ had an easy familiarity to it; it singled you out as a ‘regular’; an aficionado. The downstairs bar was very small, so I would take my pint of ‘man in a box’ upstairs to the spacious lounge; at lunchtimes, I could usually guarantee that I would have the room to myself. I liked the quiet; the escape from the hub-hub outside; a sanctuary, seemingly as far removed from the jostling traffic and bustling streets as a peaceful, alpine meadow; just me and my ‘man in a box’. The perfect couple.
But all good things come to an end. My ‘man in a box’ years were ended by the ‘men off the box’. My quiet, central-London enclave was discovered by the media men; wide-boys from the neighbouring TV production studios; noisy, vulgar poseurs, who would declaim loudly about their own pen-pushing self-importance whilst deriding any ‘creatives’ who had the temerity to upset the pampered indolence of their own money-fixated lives.
There was no place for me amongst these ostentatious interlopers; no place for the ‘man in a box’ either. We both recognised that the time had come to part. It was time to say farewell. We both retreated to pastures new. Do I still think about him? Sometimes. And, I wish him only well; hope that he has found somewhere tranquil to lay down his red-and-white pom-pom hat that he can call home.
© Beery Sue
Beery Sue still holds a candle for the ‘man in a box’.
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