It’s 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve spent the day meandering through Glasgow’s Kelvingrove park, making my way along the river with the pigeons and squirrels. It’s a beautiful, crisp fall day with frost dusting the leaves on the path.
After a few hours and miles, I fancy a pint. The exterior of MacConnell’s proclaims it to be a “traditional Scottish haunt”, which sounds like just the place.
Behind the bar is a dark-haired woman in a black tank top who I expect is likely younger than she appears. She greets me with a warm “Hiya” and serves up a frothy pint of Guinness as she banters with the two older men at the bar.
They each have a partially completed crossword in front of them, but have paused in their progress in favor of jaunty discourse.
Peals of laughter erupt from the only other occupied table in the small pub, where four gray-haired men in jumpers are deep in joyful debate. The guffaws are punctuated with frequent “Fowk Yewh!“s. The controversy seems to involve the height of a particular sporting figure, from what I gather.
"Hey, Natasha! Come Google this for us!”
“Aye, I will do. Give me two minutes.”
The liquor delivery has arrived and her attention turns to the transaction.
Meanwhile, two new arrivals have joined the group. Standing height comparisons are made, bets taken, and I catch something about “allowing for shrinkage” which provokes much loud applause.
Natasha returns, serves the newcomers their beer, pulls out her phone, and the question is posed to her: How tall was Italian footballer Franco Baresi (whose stellar career ended in 1997)?
The answer comes back: 5 feet, 9 inches, and there are cries of triumph and consternation as bets are won and lost.
One may well ask, “Who Cares?”. But they would be missing the point. Of course it doesn’t matter how tall Franco Baresi was. What matters is these people, right here and now, taking these moments as they are and enjoying them in their companionable perfection. I silently bow to them, grateful to have been a party to it.
My glass is empty. Time to move on.