Three Pints of Guinness

"And that's pretty much it," the landlord concluded. "We run a friendly pub. Most of our customers are locals, so it’s important to keep them happy. So, welcome, I'm sure you'll fit in." 

A customer entered. "Evening, Sam." 

"Evening, Pat," Sam responded, reaching up to gather three pint-jugs. "Pat," Sam continued, "is one of our locals, and he's very particular about his Guinness, has to be poured just right." 

"Nothing worse than badly poured Guinness. You'll be the new barman, then. Better watch how Sam does it. No-one pours a Guinness like Sam." 

Peter watched diligently. Patrick paid and taking the three glasses, went and sat in a corner. He arranged the glasses in a line. 

Peter watched him.

Patrick took a sup from each pint in turn until they were empty. He got up, carried the empty glasses to the bar and with a cheery, "See you next week," departed. 

Peter looked at Samuel, bemused. 

Samuel grinned at him. 

“Patrick’s one of three brothers. They used to come into the pub every Friday and have an end of the week drink. The two eldest have emigrated, one to the U.S. The other to New Zealand. But they agreed to continue the ritual. So, every Friday, Pat buys a pint each for his brothers and one for himself and drinks to his brothers' health. Apparently, they do the same." 

Peter thought this was great idea, especially since he had four brothers. 

And so, every week, Patrick would solemnly work his way through his three pints. As he got to know Peter, he would regale the young man with tales of the wonderful times he had had with his brothers. Eventually he allowed Peter to pull his pints. 

Then one day Patrick solemnly ordered just two pints. 


"Yes, two pints." 

Peter watched, bemused, as Patrick took his normal seat. He bowed his head as if in prayer, genuflected and took his first sup. 

A thought flashed through Peter's mind, 'One of his brothers has died!' 

He looked around, but he was the only one on duty that day. He continued to stare at Patrick. The man was not that old. So, even if he was the youngest, his brothers could not be that old either. Some tragedy must have befallen his brother. He glanced at the empty beer glass that still stood on the bar counter, and then at the solemn Patrick. He had to say something. He stole up to the man, and cleared his throat. 

Patrick looked up. 

"May I offer my sincere condolences, Pat." 

Patrick looked nonplussed. 

"I mean about your brother." 

Patrick looked at him blankly. 

"I mean about ... um ... his passing away." Peter indicated the two glasses. 

Patrick looked at the glasses. "Oh!" He looked at Peter. "Oh, it's nothing like that, my lad, it's just that I've given Guinness up for lent," he explained solemnly. 

copyright Martin Marais 2019
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