It's been dark since 5.30. It's cold. The roads are still wet from the afternoon rain. Almost everything is shut. City folk have scurried back to their safe haven and shut the door on the world.
Welcome to Tuesday night. Where is the joy?
As good fortune would have it, I am standing outside the Metropolitan Hotel. And it is open mic night.
Inside the warm and friendly pub, familiar faces greet me and chat as I make my way to the bar. We shake hands, I grab a drink, and grab another. We swap tales of the week's adventures, some of them true.
This room is perfect for the open mic. The small stage is ideal. Just enough to separate the performer from the crowd without destroying the intimacy. The setting, complete with mantelpiece and encyclopedia, reminds me of my imaginary great-uncle's drawing room. The open fire adds warmth and cheer. The wallpaper is lush.
The usual suspects, and a sprinkling of new performers, each present three songs for the audience. The eclectic selection skips across almost every conceivable genre and mood. Punters and fellow performers appreciate all that is on offer. It's a good night.
Ten o'clock. The theatre next door empties and suddenly the pub is full.
I grab my guitar. It's time to get it on...