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Monday, August 06, 2007

The main drag

One of the interesting side effects of the ban on smoking in pubs is the kind of people it suddenly puts on the street. In Islington there has always been a tribe of hard core pub users who had organised their lives in such a way as to ensure that they never encountered the open air. One of the key characteristics of this group, apart from the Hogarthian mien that is the inevitable result of a life lived entirely in the dark, was the fact that they smoked more or less constantly. Since the change of the law they have had to swap their traditional habitat, in the darkest, least appealing, farthest reaches of the pub interior, for the unaccustomed glare of daylight and the carbon monoxide that passes in these parts for open air.
On the corner of Chapel Market is a pub which is an all-day refuge for those who do little else in life other than drink, smoke and bet on horses. These patrons have been abruptly extruded on to the previously unused benches outside where they now survey the passers-by with blinking puzzlement. It is clearly the first time they have clapped eyes on the workaday world and they appear dazed.
When I return from holiday the weather will no doubt have turned cold. I doubt this will make any difference. I'm confident they'll still be out there in December.