Yesterday I was reminded of what I used to call the “summer static”, when too much proximity in the city heat creates the thunder and lightning of people rubbing against each other. Within minutes of arriving I'd witnessed a full-on female fight, white on black, at a Tesco till, referreed by a scared Polish cashier. Then in Marks and Spencer the woman behind the tills gave a management trainee a good dressing down over nothing. Job done, she turned to her next customer, sucked her teeth and said “Best they learn quick, innit.”
But the coup de grace was saved for the evening. In a non-descript Taylor Walkers pub on Queensway where I handed the barmaid a tenner for our drinks. Two glasses of wine. One of them small. Both of them well-known brands of supermarket plonk. She looked at me. I looked at her. “£14.48”, she said.