The Magic Mitch and Bernie Show
"... I only had four pints," pleads Bernie.
Magic Mitch insists otherwise. "No, we both had at least two pints in here," he said, gesturing around what had been a quiet bar at Derby's Brunswick Inn.
"And then we had two halves next door..." interjects Bernie. Meaning the Alexandra, thirty steps around the corner.
"It was four halves", emphasises Mitch. "And you forgot the bloke who bought us both a pint. And that we went up to the Exeter Arms for a few. And then came back here for another pint".
Last week's shenanigans play as a major topic of conversation all lunchtime. As does clubbing; semi-pro dancers, missing last buses. Potential partners. Mitch has seen it all before.
"Big ladies aren't your thing, are they, Bernie?" There's a pain behind Bernie's eyes. "They tread on your feet", Bernie says. "And they're no good on top".
There's a round of Ossett Hopmonster. It gains praise for being, in Mitch's words, "super-dry. It attacks the back of the throat".
He then disappears for half a ciggy and to bung a few quid in the gaming machine. After a few minutes, there's a vague chinking sound. Bernie cheers. "Have you won enough to buy a round!"
"You'd be lucky," answers Mitch. "So would I, actually..."
Bernie confides that Mitch, when knowing he's about the hit the jackpot, has been known to stuff his scarf into the payout slot of the machine. Deadening the sound of pound coins hitting the trough. So not raising the ire of the landlord.
We sojourn next door. Castle Rock Harvest Pale is dispatched quickly. As is their Elsie Mo. It's... smooth. Subtle. They're compliments, by the way.
No-one heard Bernie order something to eat. He soon wraps his chops into a ham and tomato cob. Three chomps in, Mitch orders one. Other people eating makes other topers irresistibly hungry.
Maybe it's the wheeler-dealer car-seller in him, but Mitch really loves a bargain. He's found plenty recently. Packs of chicken breasts for 30p. Mobile phone deals where, through an arcane combination of discount websites and cashback deals, he's being paid to have a contract. He's on the phone now, surfing the web, scouring for bargains. We politely decline offers of killer mobile deals. Bernie is happy with his prehistoric Nokia. It bounces.
But Bernie doesn't. He's still sporting an oil-blue bruise that runs the length of his left arm, apart from where plasters cover the cuts sustained from his latest trip. Over the kerb just around the corner, running for a bus last week after what may have been more than four pints. Mitch was already at the stop. Albeit the bus wasn't actually the one they wanted.
I'll never tire of meeting Mitch, who's a not-too-shoddy magician in his spare time, and asking him, "how's tricks!"
Bernie has tales that can turn your hair almost as white as his. He's 83 this year. Mitch... well let's say he's old enough to know better.
They're taking me to Sheffield soon. With their mates. People who've been retired for longer than I've been working. People who've been drinking for longer than they care to remember.
The 'Magic Mitch and Bernie' show lights up every pub they drink in. I'm just hoping we don't end up laughing our way to A&E...