Overheard in a London Pub
by Celia Runham, Staff Reporter
Where lie the hearts of the common men of London, and why do they turn so readily to crime and to violence? To those privileged to serve Her Majesty, or of sufficient means to elevate their homes and families into the untainted upper sky, that question seems impenetrable.
This reporter took a trek to the Fog-drenched pubs of the working class, seeking answers - for when the wine flows and a man is among friends, his heart opens and the truth issues forth.
Here now is an excerpt overheard at the Swine and Barrow, London. One man who was suffering from a hacking cough, undoubtedly a slowly-expiring victim of the Fog, accepted this advice from a friend, with whom he was tentatively attempting to have a friendly drink.
"Ain't no way to live, is it?" said the friend. "There ain't a hospital this side of the ocean'll see you. But you know, mate, I've a sure way of getting you away from this miserable ----. Take my advice and you'll be breathing clean air in a pinch."
The ill man nodded. His coughing kept him from enjoying his lager easily, but he bravely soldiered on, taking little sips.
"Here's what you do, mate, here's what you do.
You got to find yourself a shop - the kind fulla diamonds and pocket ro-bots and fancy hats. Coppers standing on the street. You go in there, and you find somethin' nice - you find the fanciest bloody hat in the whole shop.
"You put your filthy little hands on that hat, and you run. Out the door, into the street, right past the copper. Not too fast, mind you, but give 'em a bit of a chase - if you can with your black lungs and your skinny legs.
"Now the copper's gonna beat ya, but just keep a stiff upper lip. In fact, maybe give him a couplea whacks for his trouble. Sure as death you'll be stuffed in a cool, airtight cell with a bag over yer head and a dozen doors between you and the Fog. If you're lucky they'll ship you off to Australia, free of charge. You can bake to death in the desert or you can rot to death while rats eat your eyes."
The well man took a big, dramatic breath, which caused him to share a little in the ill man's coughing fit. But nothing was going to stop this fellow from his great, dramatic finish.
"But imagine the air, mate, that sweet, clean air!"
This was received with laughter all around, and the men toasted to innovative thinking.