The current favourite among the park-benchers, if I may so call them, is 8.4 per cent cider, an appalling liquid which comes in two- and three-litre bottles known technically as ‘rubber ducks’.
‘Why are they called that?’ I asked a patient who belonged to the park-bench culture.
‘I don’t really know. It’s because they float in the bath or the pond, I suppose.’
‘Not with two or three litres of cider in them.’
‘But they never have two or three litres in them for long.’
True enough: I’ve seen many a rubber duck in the gutter, but never a full one.
‘And when did you last work?’ I asked.
He screwed up his eyes and scoured his brain, like an archaeologist scratching around in the sand for traces of remote antiquity.
‘1976,’ he said, after much delay.