As the Boru Betting regulars, and a few irregulars too, munched on their complimentary bacon butties and spicy sausage sarnies, it struck Vinny Fitzpatrick that his better half was one of life's great improvisers.
For a sleepy mid-June Sunday ahead of Royal Ascot, Angie had come up a whizz to encourage a few extra bodies to enter her betting den at the foot of Vernon Avenue.
It was Bloomsday and while the lads in Foley’s wouldn’t know their Blazes Boylan from their Buck Mulligan, they could sniff out a sizzling porker blind-folded.
As Vinny, complete with butcher’s pinafore, turned fat sausages on the barbecue under the awning outside Boru Betting, he noted the steady stream of traffic mooching into Angie’s lair.
Wearing a boater hat, monocle and a whip which she tapped against a shapely pin, Angie was pressing fliers into the hands of passers-by which read: ‘Step inside to Boru Betting for your free sausage sandwich on Bloomsday’.
The promotion ran from 12.30pm to 3.30pm, by which time Vinny was a perspiring, pink-faced porker, his pinny spattered with grease, brown sauce and mustard, and gasping for a reviver.
Inside Boru Betting, business was good as scattered dockets dotted the floor, while a fair few bodies were still loitering, pencils at the ready, slips to hand.
From behind her glass counter, Angie blew a kiss in the direction of her portly husband. "The Phil Mickelson birthday special in the US Open was a popular bet. If he wins at 5/2, it will cost us a few bob," she reported.
“I’d say turnover is up more than a quarter on our regular Sunday trade. Well done, love, you deserve a drink. I’ll catch up in an hour or so and leave Alfred to finish up.”
After splashing his moist armpits with water and dabbing them dry as best he could with loo roll, he waddled into Foley’s.
His favourite watering hole was adorned with bunting and smartly dressed young women, whose age profile suggested they were blow-ins.
A bubbly blonde in a suit caught Vinny’s eye and beamed. “Are you here for the promotion, sir? You are very welcome. I’m Ginny, pleased to meet you. Take a seat and we’ll be with you shortly.”
Slightly bemused, Vinny made his way towards a frowning Dial-A-Smile at the bar. “What’s the story?” Vinny asked.
"It's National Gin Day, whatever that means," he said gloomily, before repairing to the Racing Post.
Vinny shrugged. “In that case, make mine a pint,” he said.
As he clocked the runners being loaded into the stalls at Salisbury for the four o’clock, a perfect pint of Uncle Arthur’s finest was placed in front of Vinny.
He wrapped a meaty paw around the glass. This opening draft wasn’t even going to touch the sides of his throat on its way down.
As he half-closed his eyes, he felt a tug at his elbow: “Would you mind holding your horses for a moment please, sir,” said a female voice.Ginny was on the stool beside him.
Not only was she cause of his Guinness interruptus, she also had the nerve to reach for Vinny’s glass and place it a little way down the counter.
Vinny was gobsmacked.
“What in the name of Dickens?” he spluttered, aware his face was reddening.
The fair-haired meddler smiled. "Dickens we don't have. But Tanqueray, Gordons, Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire we do, all served with ice and a slice, as part our promotion for National Gin Day. What's your preference?"
A part of him wanted to escort Ginny the gin-slinger out of Foley's but he had always preferred the shadows to the limelight. Instead, he swallowed hard.
“I’ll have one of your cursed drinks, just one mind, and then I’d appreciate it if you slung your hook elsewhere,” he said. “Do I make myself clear?” he said, jabbing a sausage-like finger at Ginny.
Several hours later, as the final shots of the US Open were played, the last shots of gin were being knocked back.
Between them, the lads had emptied Ginny’s entire gin chest after which they had all agreed that the spirit had, in its own way, some merit.
Vinny’s favourite was the Bombay Sapphire East; Brennie was bowled over by Beefeater 24, while Macker had fallen in love with Tanqueray 10 – or Tanqueray 10 out of 10, as he called it.
“And you know the best thing about it,” observed Fran, eyes shining. “We’re all as sober as Judge Lillis over there in the lounge. Usually, with this amount of pints on us, we’d be out of our bananas. A toast, to gin,” he cried.
The response was raucous, as the gin jamboree had been a blast and the soothing spirits had eased the pain of Phil Mickelson’s US Open near-miss.
Vinny stood to win €550 nicker if Lefty had won, which he looked likely to do standing on the 13th tee. As he struggled to calculate the number of limes swilling around inside his glass, it struck him in a moment of clarity the only thing in bloom on Bloomsday was a bloomin’ Rose.