Honour Guard

There are beer bottles — two hundred? three? — lined along the plate rail, just a foot from the ceiling, like mismatched soldiers in uniforms pulled from seldom-used closets, faded over long years, passed down from fathers, perhaps grandfathers, but still worn with pride, even with scuffs at the elbows and tarnish on the buttons, even with the meaning of the medals now forgotten.  They stand a curious guard over what comes and goes — the ales and the porters, the scotches on the rocks, the occasional glass of wine, the even more occasional mixed drink, an order that disconcerts the bartenders and quiets the regulars, because it is does not befit the honour guard.


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