Glad to see the issue of what to do in the pub on your own raised here. In my younger, more bashful days I would refuse to enter a pub and wait for my friends on my own but now I am usually so desperate for a drink that there’s no holding me. As I am pathologically punctual/early (and most friends are not) I find myself sitting alone in pubs quite a lot. And being a girl, this makes me self conscious, so I am in pursuit of the ideal activity which makes me look busily occupied and not pathetically stood up.

Crosswords are OK (although doing the Metro crossword doesn’t go with the intellectual image I am aiming for…); reading a book makes me look like the sort of saddo who goes to the pub alone to read thereby taking up a whole table that could be better used by proper drinkers. More modern pastimes such as texting or calling other people seem a bit desperate – ‘look, look, I do have friends, they’re just not here yet!’. Having gone down the road of being engaged by/engaging other drinkers in conversation I have realised that I’m not paranoid, I am in fact a weirdo magnet (must be my kindly psychiatric nurse demeanour), and so that’s out of the question too. (Bad memories of man in the Angel, Highgate’s ski holiday photos come flooding back at this point…)

Not sure that any pastime above could be described as offensive – although I know some people take irrational exception to mobiles. However suggestions for pastimes which are likely to cause offence would be most welcome.