Okay, another pub story, another treatise on pub ettiquette. Last week I, Mr & Mrs Carsmile, Emma and A.N.Other (whose name has been forgotten) were in that most haunted of London boozers the Lord John Russell. For all its charms the place is quite small and we had nowhere to sit except at two stools at the bar. Myself and Steve take possession of these stools only after they had been offered to the ladies. However we spy in the corner of the pub – by the radiator with the persistant mayonaise stain on it – a table with two people on it who are finishing up. Indeed they are making a ten minute meal of the dribble in their glasses. We are ready, we are poised: we are carpetbagged by two blokes who get there just before us.

That table was ours, we had our eye on it and for want of appearing rude and hovering we should have been granted it by rights. Not only that but there are two people hogging a five man table. So I break what may be a rule of pub ettiquette and offer to swop their five man table for our two chairs. After all this is equitable for everyone, we all get to sit down. Yet I feel rude doing it and there is a wheedling moment as I try to convince the pair. They do go for it in the end – but did I breach pub ettiquette? Or have I bravely broached rules which help no-one?