IN the words of that comedy character from the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave: "I don't beleeeeve it!"
For once in my life I returned home straight after work yesterday to pick my car up from Charlie's garage. Brakes fixed, £85, lovely job.
Still, I fancied a drink to celebrate and knew some of the guys were out on the town. First off, though, I wanted to get out of my work clothes and into something more comfortable so donned jeans, T-shirt, jacket and my new glistening white trainers.
Then off I set for the Yard, my thirst growing by the second.
Imagine my horror, then, when the neanderthal at the door, decked out in knee-length coat and uniform, informed me: "Sorry, no trainers."
But this is The Yard. The place I spend about three-quarters of my salary, the venue where I spend nearly every night of the week deep in the sort of challenging conversation that regularly finds itself transferred onto these pages the following day.
No doubt this gentleman on guard duty didn't recognise me. He hadn't been briefed to my importance to the profits of the Brains brewery chain, he needed to be put straight before he got himself into an awkwardly embarrassing situation. It was time to put him right.
"Look here my dear fellow," I didn't say, because I don't talk like that. Rather I blustered: "But this is The Yard! I come in here every day. My mates are waiting for me upstairs. I even went home to get changed tonight, just an hour ago I was wearing a suit. Honest."
To which he replied: "Please get off the step."
The letter is in the post to his employers right now.
Texting my mates didn't help. They informed me they were "finishing their drinks". I could see them from my lonely vigil point outside - didn't look like anyone was in a particular hurry to join me.
My concern increased when I peered through a side window to see that one of the Yard customers was decked out in flip flops! So why can you wear black, toe-revealing, passe beachware that looks bohemian (or crap, depending on your point of view) and not nice new, clean, white trainers. Questions will be asked in the house, I tell you.
The Yard is a pub, by the way, not a nightclub. The Lava Lounge, by contrast, resembles a nightclub. Imagine my surprise then when my entry into said Lava Lounge went unhindered by any 6ft 6ins jobsworth, besuited hooligan.
There was a leaving do in the lounge, someone from advertising, and I bumped into Kempy, Becks, Withers and Marc, who were already well into the night's proceedings. I felt a bit out of touch, so set about playing "catch up".
I was doing pretty well when things ground to a halt, as they usual do, with Withers' round.
This man has an entirely unique way of going to the bar for drinks. First he complains that he ought to be getting home, then he mumbles about having no money and having to use his debit card. Whoever heard of going to a pub without bothering to pick up any cash? Well, ok, the Prince of Darkness, but then he's afraid he might be hit by a stray sunbeam on his trip to the cashpoint.
Without further ado then, here's the Withers method of buying a round.
1. Stand at very back of any queue near bar.
2. Refuse to make eye contact with bar staff or raise voice above a whisper.
3. When barman approaches turn back to bar and start talking to someone who hasn't got a clue who you are.
4. Ignore any cries of "Hello, sir, how can I help you? What would you like to drink".
5. Drift back to table complaining you can't get served, they won't accept a card and, anyway, you're "very tired" and need to go home.
No recipe today because by the time I tottered in I didn't want to set the kitchen alight or cook up my old favourite "12-hour rice". If you're interested this is: Put rice on, bring to boil, turn down to simmer, go to bedroom for "a little rest". Wake up 12 hours later to find a thick black crust of something on the bottom of your saucepan. Turn off gas ring before landlord smells a rat.
Try it sometime - I did.