Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

Low life | 9 November 2017

Its devoted clientele of losers, paupers, weirdos, seers, bores, babblers and underage drinkers will miss the King Bill

We had a hyperbole competition, the taxi driver and I, over the climbing full moon, clearer and brighter than either of us had seen it for as long as we could remember. Did I know, he said, that the gravitational power of the moon on the Earth was just enough to stabilise the Earth’s wobble? It might have been put there, and its mass finely calibrated, just for the task. No, I said, I didn’t know that, but it just goes to show. ‘Show what?’ he said. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. But after thinking about it I said that maybe it goes to show that the physicists and astronomers are banging their heads against a brick wall. ‘How’s that?’ he said. He was a young man and terrier-like in his passion for logical debate. Well, I said, it seems like every five minutes the TV news excitedly reports that scientists are certain that they are going to discover life on another planet any day now, but they never do, do they?

The moon soared into view again. You could see the mountains and seas and what-not with the naked eye. I peered up at it through the windscreen hoping it would keep up the good work.

How long was I back for, asked the taxi man. I don’t know, I said. Maybe a few weeks. ‘Any plans while you’re here?’ he said. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I’ll probably go to the pub. I’ve missed the pub.’ ‘Any particular one?’ he said. ‘The King Bill,’ I said. ‘I love a Saturday night up the King Bill getting slaughtered. I need it.’ ‘The King Bill’s shut,’ he said. ‘Closed down. Didn’t you know?’

I was shocked. At a verbal stroke this taxi man had removed my metaphorical moon, and the world was wobbling out of control.

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