In my teens and early twenties, working in a bar was by far the most desirable way to earn your drinking money each week.
If you were lucky you’d work somewhere lively; where you could blag your mates free drinks and meet up with them after your shift at whatever dodgy, second rate nightclub they’d ended up at.
If you were unlucky you’d get a job at one of the local ‘old man pubs’ – so named because they were frequented by fellas older than your dad and a lot less polite – but even that wasn’t a bad way to earn your pocket money.
You could usually get away with spending your shift eating at least double your basic wage in Quavers and get involved in the excitement when ‘Dave the local alcy’ would, for the third time that night, try to wrestle the mic out of the death grip of the lead singer, (who’s band had been ecstatic to get a Friday night gig, until they realised they were playing to 15 drunks shouting how the 70’s was ‘real’ music) and scream ‘Sweet Caroline’ into it for three minutes before throwing up on himself.
But, as anyone who’s ever worked in a bar will know, there’s a handful of characters that you find in every drinking establishment the length and breadth of this country. They might come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re always there. They’re the bread an butter of every pub’s clientele and possess the unyielding power to make or ruin your shift.
On the surface they’re like caricatures; ‘the cougar’, ‘the local pervert’… the chancer who waits until there’s less than an inch left in his pint to come back and demand a refill because, ‘that one was flat, love’– oh was it yeah, didn’t stop you drinking the whole thing though did it? But, give them their due, were anything but dull.
I can’t help, on days like today where I’m making important life decisions involving mortgages and career choices, to feel nostalgic for my days as a barmaid. Don’t get me wrong, at the time I fucking hated it – but looking back, it wasn’t half a cushy gig.
Today, I’d go as far as saying I miss it.
Until I remember the time Barry “a-pint-of-Peroni-and-a-packet-of-prawn-cocktail-please-babe” Wiggan put his cock on the bar, had a wee and managed to sing the first half of Bohemian Rhapsody before the bouncers dragged him out.
…and off come the rose coloured glasses.
Until next time… x
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