What effect is achieved by opening the story in the middle of a conversation in the Ritz bar?  

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Two themes being explored in this story is the resilience of character, and the effects of self-imposed sabotage. In this case, the sabotage comes from engaging in drinking to excess and attending wild parties, which cause the protagonist to lose custody of his daughter. Having the first scene set in the bar, where the character intentionally has one drink per day as a way of exerting control over his alcohol addiction, shows both that this character is determined to change, but also that he is vulnerable to environmental influences. When the guardians of his daughter (his former in-laws) see him socializing with drunken friends, they assume he has taken up his old ways. The bar setting is a potent reminder and foreshadowing of the difficulty of quitting an addictive lifestyle, and the inability of characters to truly change and move forward in their lives, as well as the judgmental attitudes imposed by others upon an addictive or irresponsible person.

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