There is, for some reason, something especially grim about pubs near stations, a very particular kind of grubbiness, a special kind of pallor to the pork pies.
Worse than the pork pies, though, are the sandwiches.
There is a feeling which persists in England that making a sandwich interesting, attractive, or in any way pleasant to eat is something sinful that only foreigners do.
'Make 'em dry,' is the instruction buried somewhere in the collective national conciousness, 'make 'em rubbery. If you have to keep the buggers fresh, do it by washing 'em once a week.'
It is by eating sandwiches in pubs on Saturday lunchtimes that the British seek to atone for whatever their national sins have been. They're not altogether clear what those sins are, and don't want to know either. Sins are not the sort of things one wants to know about. But whatever sins there are are amply atoned for by the sandwiches they make themselves eat.
If there is anything worse than the sandwiches, it is the sausages that sit next to them. Joyless tubes, full of gristle, floating in a sea of something hot and sad, stuck with a plastic pin in the shape of a chef's hat: a memorial, one feels, for some chef who hated the world, and died, forgotten and alone, among his cats on a back stair in Stepney.
The sausages are for the ones who know what their sins are and wish to atone for something specific.
(So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish)