The Duke - October 21, 2015

editorial image
Have your say

I have to admit I quite like drinking on my own.

I don’t mean slumped on the settee finishing off the last drops of the final bottle of wine and not being quite sure what television programme I’ve failed to record the ending of.

No, I mean standing in a pub, on my own, having a pint or two. This is partly because I’m at the point of deafness which leaves me nodding my head like one of those toy dogs in the backs of cars and having no idea what the conversation is about – and partly because as my old mate Dave Daly, manager of The Castle on Central Drive, says “a pub is a sanctuary.”

He should know, he’s been managing them for donkey’s years. And I should know because I’ve been drinking in them even longer.

But blokes mainly like drinking on their own because they can. There’s no taboo attached to lone drinking – and no ulterior motive. Women can’t really pull it off the same way – largely because too many blokes start staring at them or try to hit on them.

So women travel in posses or arrive late to guarantee someone else has arrived before them. But the concept of just nipping out solo for a drink or two hasn’t caught on – unless they’ve stormed out after an argument (clue: they’ll be flushed of face and on the point of tears) or been stood up (clue: checking their watch and/or mobile every minute or so).

However, lone drinking may be easy, but what about lone dining? Again, I don’t mean in the comfort of your own home – where, according to a BBC Good Food poll claims, more than a quarter of Britons eat their main meal on their tod.

Shared mealtimes are on the wane – but unfortunately snacking or skipping meals is increasingly common. As for having friends or family round, you’d better put the fondue set back in the attic because 78 per cent of us never do it.

Needless to say, you can forget your “five a day” (77 per cent already do) along with breakfast (it’s no from 42 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds, lunch (26 per cent no) and dinner (23 per cent).

But it’s not just at home where solo scoffing is on the upturn.

It wasn’t too long ago that lone diners could expect a rubbish table near the toilets and the kind of service civility last seen on a leper colony picnic.

Maybe in these austere days, couples or groups can no longer afford to dine together so have to take it in turns to dine out, but data published by the restaurant booking service Open Table reveals single cover reservations have shot up by 110 per cent in two years.

A YouGov poll found that 87 per cent of customers surveyed said they had no problem eating out alone – 42 per cent of them indicating the biggest motivation for dining solo was the chance to enjoy some time on their own (and presumably only get stiffed for their own bill).

If you want to dive into that solo soup pond but can’t pluck up the courage, try eating out in Wolverhampton, where 76 per cent have eaten out alone. Avoid Gloucester – where only 27 per cent have dined solo.

For some reason, Southampton is the city most worried about embarrassment, with 75 per cent of poll respondents admitting that was why they never dined alone.

Strange, then, that only seven per cent of Britons say they would negatively judge someone eating out by themselves – unless it was a flushed face woman constantly looking at her watch or mobile.

Spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam

I can tell it’s not been a deliriously exciting week when I skip straight to the spam box on my laptop.

It was early Monday when I’d tired of following Facebook links only to find they were even more tedious than last week’s – and I’d already chosen to ignore another batch of LinkedIn requests from total strangers.

So spam it was going to have to be. Not that I actually open them (though I have to admit I was tempted by “Love Japanese style” and “great Asian single dating could be on its way” if only for the images they conjured up).

No, I’m more of a “Wigs – is your wig style out of date?” and “Shoes – comfortable shoes you can count on” man myself.

For all the modern way they arrive I love their nostalgic tone – a bit like “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent”.

Unfortunately, electronic spam has a shelf life shorter than an opened tin of the meaty stuff before they vanish, so I’ll never know what the essential “Crockpot recipe” is.

Still time to check out my “Online doctorate” though.