Tam was a cooper and had a fondness for drink. He repaired the old wooden barrels that were still used to store whisky. Because the bars in Glasgow did not open on Sundays, Tam had purchased a return ticket on the London train – the plan was simple enough. If he stayed on the train he could drink all the way to London and all the way home. And it went well for the first leg. But fate had other plans for Tam – and me.
When he got to London he wandered off the train, remembered that he had a friend in Lee, near Lewisham, and called to see Joe. After a very hectic Sunday evening it was decided that I should keep Tam company for a few days and on Monday morning we set out together to drink our way across London. By Tuesday afternoon we wandered into Sloane Square waiting for the bars to re-open.
“Where can we gie us a bevy.” Tam implored of the hot afternoon sun.
There was an off-license, a distinguished one, that had sold fine wines and ports to the better part of London for over a hundred and fifty years, and it was open.
“Hang on a sec, Tam, I’ll be right back.”
I stepped into the dark stained musty cool and smiled at the distinguished gentleman who approached me in a morning suit with a soft carnation in the buttonhole.
“Good afternoon young sir,” he greeted and smiled at my tattered and hairy self, “And what can I do for you today.”
“My friend and I are having lunch in the park,” I offered as I scanned the towering shelves for something familiar and cheap.
“Might I suggest a Rose, Sir?”
“A what? Oh yeah, a Rosy would be great.”
“Excellent choice and would you like that chilled, Sir?”
“Yes please and could ya open it too?”
“Can ya take the cork out?”
“Very good Sir. And will that be all?’
I handed him the four pounds he asked for – it sold in the supermarket for one pound ten but they never offered such service.
“Yer a gem, young Murphy,” a delighted Tam said on my return, “A real gentleman’s gentleman.”