On insalubrious bars

We moved next door where the relationship between natural and manufactured sound was less extreme, and conversation a possibility.

The infrastructure was similar, but the working girls younger. If the women in the first bar resembled mothers of a certain age providing for Catholic-sized families, most of the girls in its neighbour were barely in the foothills of adulthood despite messy attempts to fossilise their youth under thick layers of makeup.

When I returned from the toilet, a giggling cluster cooed and winked. I smiled back shyly, briefly giving into the daydream that an entire group of nubile young women were flirting with me. But the wiser part of me understood my viability as a potential punter. Unlike most of the resident barflies, I not only had the cash, but was sober enough to climb the stairs to a nearby boudoir.
Rather strangely – perched on a platform 20ft above the bar – sat a bedraggled man hunched over a giant pipe organ – the like of which might have graced a cathedral. But a cathedral sporting hard-core porn on screens that flanked its pulpit. His posture was less classical musician than creature from The Muppet Show.

It was hard to say how long he had been there. No obvious route to the platform presented itself. Marooned and forgotten, he now played only for himself.