13 AUGUST 1988, Page 44

Low life

More time for embroidery

Jeffrey Bernard

There are some disturbing aspects of snatching a little sleep. I recently got up and thought I would go out and buy myself some breakfast. As I walked along the street I noticed that it was getting darker. Now you can't very well walk up to somebody and ask them, 'Excuse me, can you tell me is it today or tomorrow?' It can be worse than that. Years ago I went to a

party in Hyde Park Square and woke up in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. I was living in Hornsey at the time. And I know a man who woke up one morning to discover he was in a cinema in Dover.

I would very much like to wake up one morning at 9 a.m. As it is I awake at 5 a.m. most days to find that the milk has turned sour. I now lie in bed sipping soda water until it is time to go to work. Tepid soda water. And talking of going to work, that isn't done with much bounce any more. It takes me ten minutes to drag the body down Shorts Gardens to the Groucho Club for a Bloody Mary. It's no life and that is why I insured my daughter last week from inheriting it by fixing for her to go to Australia. It is sad in a way because I probably won't see her again but the alternative for her is unspeakable. A room in West Kensington and a job as a shop assistant. West Kensington and the area around Olympia can kill you but so I suppose could Mayfair without the anaes- thetic of money. No, Australia must hold out a little more for an 18-year-old than this rubbish dump of a city. Even Norman has fled to California where he will be mistaken for Walter Matthau. I can't im- agine what the Americans will make of him but being a teetotaller obsessed with money he should go down quite well.

When he returns it is hoped that he sacks the staff. I know I go on a bit about the service but they really are a remarkable lot behind the bar. I now think of Norman and his manager, Michael, as being Burke and Hare for surely they must dig them up. The new French boy is as vacuous as an amoeba. And the horror of it is that these people can actually reproduce themselves. A nasty picture.

I sit there at the bar staring into puddles of spilt beer wishing I was back in Cap d'Antibes awaiting another lunch with Graham Greene. We are both at the picture framer's at the moment and I think I will hang'us between Mrs Bernard IV and Lester Piggott. Good company, although I wouldn't like to be sharing Lester's at the moment.

And what about the man being killed at Newmarket? Is there no end to yobbism? An irritation and no minor one is that the `authorities' whoever they may be blame all violence on alcohol. A pig doesn't have to be drunk to behave like an animal and I fear that those of us who occasionally fall down the stairs will be made to suffer. I certainly wouldn't go racing again if they closed all the bars. Church without music.

But at least we are nearly face to face with the pubs being open all day. That will close down some pretty sleazy clubs but I fear it will mean Norman taking on more slug-like staff who I must believe live under the ground somewhere. There will be shifts of them. Thousands of moronic students hitch-hiking their way across Europe will stop at the Coach and Horses for a week's work before being sacked or going off with the takings. But bad service may not quite matter so much any more if there is to be less of a sense of urgency about getting a glass of analgesic.

The trouble though is that the new laws are granting an extension to the pub bore. He will have another two and a half hours with which to bore you. He will be able to embroider his story and turn it into a veritable tapestry. The near win at Ascot and the near miss on the M4 never mind the near Ms. But Norman thinks everyone will drink far less. I told you he's mad. Does he think we eat less now that so many restaurants are open all day? He is going to be seriously rich soon if he isn't already. At least the yobs won't have to ruin the races to get an afternoon drink and you can drink to that.