Could I Order a Whisky and Milk in the Retirement Home?

If this retirement home had a serious bar, I would be able to push my way through the crowd, bang on the counter and say in a loud voice, “Barman, one double scotch and milk please! No ice!” No one would turn around to see who ordered such a strange drink and the barman wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Grandfather was a scotch man. Actually, first he was a Lithuanian, then he was an Irishman, then he was a South African and then he discovered the pleasures of good scotch. One evening back in 1950 I stopped at his house on the way home from lectures and found him pouring himself a double. “You’ve arrived just in time, my boy. I hate drinking alone. But you’re still a little young for this so you’ll have yours with milk.” It became a ritual. Once or twice a week I would pop in to see him and we had a whisky together. Mine was always with milk. No ice.

I started to work as a junior in an engineering office and occasionally all the juniors would call in at a bar after work on the way to the bus station. We all drank beer, the younger man’s drink, I suppose, or was it because we couldn’t afford scotch? One day there was huge rush in the office to finish a job and the boss asked us all to stay late and work. It was over by about 10pm and to reward us, he invited us to join him at the bar for a drink.

We gathered around the counter and the boss said, “Barman, pour these young fellows whatever they order, the tab’s on me!” When the barman looked at me for my order I said loudly, “A double scotch with milk please! No ice!” There was a deafening silence followed by shrieks of laughter. “He ordered what??” I was mortified. It took me a long time to live that down. Funny thing is, I quite liked the drink.

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3 responses to “Could I Order a Whisky and Milk in the Retirement Home?

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