I MET a friend for a pint recently. The city was quiet and The Blue Bell pub in Fossgate was almost unoccupied, save for a chap reading the paper in the front parlour and a couple in the cosy back room.

We bagged a table by the fire and settled down to our pints. After about an hour the other customers left.

Landlord Jim put on some innocuous music and sat by the bar to do the crossword, while we did the Christmas quiz from a magazine by the flickering light of the fire. This then is my portrayal of the intimate, though unusually deserted interior of my favourite pub in the world.

Then the unexpected happened.

The back room was suddenly crowded with silver-haired men. The chap who squeezed in next to me said this gathering represented approximately one third of the York Philharmonic Men’s Choir, and it soon became clear this was a post-practise pint.

Several huge plates of sandwiches then appeared from behind the bar and one of the chaps climbed up on the bench opposite us – he was the conductor.

The whole pub was then filled with the glorious sound of a medley of light choral works including a marvellous and rousing sea shanty.

Jonty Clark, Studio 14, The Danesmead Wing, Fulford Cross, York.