Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fight Pub

Over the years, I've worked in many pubs, and also ended up help run a few by mistake.
One of my first jobs was in a pub near Earls Court, which I'd got because I'd been helping out at a friends pub and got recommended. It was back in the days when the pubs shut in the afternoon, and my first shift was to start at 5pm, for the 5.30 kick off.
Kick off being the operative word.
After I'd been shown where all the bits were, the manager went to open the doors saying 'You'll like it here, it's very quiet and there's never any trouble'.
At 5.45, a coachload of rugby players came in.
6pm, the fight started.
6.02, found me moving the bin under the bar and taking refuge under there.
I watched the bottles and glasses flying over my head for a while, until the sound of sirens replaced the swearing and screaming.
6.15, I emerged back out, and while the rozzers carted off the last of the blood-spattered miscreants, I walked over to the till, took out the money I was owed, and left, never to return.
I was told by my friend that the manager had never seen someone so calm when a fight had kicked off, but after a few years in my local, not a lot could faze me.
For new readers, (and those that haven't been paying attention) my local is, or rather was now due to it's being closed for refurbishment, famous for the most awful toilets, and at least a weekly scrap, sometimes even involving van loads of the old bill turning up so that the flashing lights outside give the place a nice 'disco look' while chairs are thrown.
Many people have asked me why the fu heck I go there, but in all honesty, I've been there for so long never causing any trouble, I know all the regulars, and seen many of them grow up there. There might be some of them that would bite a man's nose off for touching his pint, but all I've ever had from them is a smile, and an 'Ello luv, 'ow you doin' darlin'? And the little dog, she alright too?'
I've stopped a fair few fights, but unless you count the kebab shop incident, I've never got myself into one.
I've been told they like me because I'm always calm and polite, but there's also that slightly insidious side that makes them wonder why I just sigh and start removing glasses and ashtrays when people start shouting.
Insidious? Fine by me.
Also, they don't know that much about the pub I helped run in Surrey.
I was with the then-partner-in-crime, and by mistake we'd ended up living in at the place. Generally, it was fine. Apart from the fact it was opposite a road colloquially known as Beirut Alley due to the rehoused travellers and dregs of a council estate, it was mostly harmless. The TPIC, fitted in just fine; years of running dodgy pubs, and having the right 'look' and accent helped, as well as the fact he'd taken on one of the nastier regulars and won, had earned a reputation for not to be messed with, but me, all 5'7", slim, blonde and 'posh accent', was what they thought, 'a soft touch', and hopefully easily intimidated.
No chance.
The night of the fight had been brewing for some time. The Friday had seen one of the lodgers (builders working nearby) getting pished and almost getting thumped for chatting up someone else's bird, and we'd heard through the grapevine that one of our least popular characters was out to cause trouble for some reason.
Said character, was the local bully and had been since he was at school. Loads of the locals had been terrorized by him since primary school, and since then he'd grown to the size of a brick sh*t-house, and had developed the personality to match.
Saturday night found me working the jump with the help of a regular barmaid. A band had been booked to play, and the evening had been going great. Everyone was happy and bouncy, and although it was very busy, all was calm.
Until the brick-sh*t-house walked in.
Now the TPIC had had to go visit the pub up the road, and as it was getting crowded, I gave him a call and said 'Please come back and give me a hand before we run out of glasses, oh, and he's just walked in!'
Brick-sh*t-house decided to perch himself at the end of the bar where the entrance was, which meant I had to either push past him to get out, or ask him to move. I asked politely, and he grudgingly shifted his bulk to let me past.
I went round the bar trying to get the glasses, and as I did so I was grabbed from behind and felt someone pushing up against me in a manner I did not care for one iota. I turned to find the lodger who had caused problems the day before, grabbed his arm so that if he moved an inch would seriously hurt him, and sweetly told him that if he tried anything like that again he would be leaving via a window.
My blood pressure was starting to rise a tad.
I got back to the bar laden with glasses, and once again found the shi*-house blocking my way.
I told him he was not in the best place to be standing and asked him to move. He decided he wasn't going to, so I pushed past him.
Luckily for me, he then spotted someone else to pick on, and went over to sit near the band.
I'm still not sure exactly how it started, but next I knew, the lodger was being beaten up by a bloke, and the shi*-house was threatening the band.
I called to the barmaid to phone the police, and being the only manager on duty, went over to try and sort things out.
That was when things really got out of hand.
The lodger picked up a pint glass and threw it, and I ducked as it sailed past me and onto someone else's table of drinks. Their response was to grab the lodger and start smacking the cr*p out of him.
At the same time, the shi*-house kicked off, grabbed the guitarist and began punching him in the stomach. All around people were shouting and screaming and some of them decided to start their own fights in other parts of the pub.
No-one was going to help the guitarist though, so I reckoned there was only one thing for it.
I lost my temper.
With a shout of 'Oi, get off him you *%$*£*', I launched myself, and cat-climbed up the shi*-house's back, stuck one set of nails into his face, and grabbed the chain around his neck with the other.
That got his attention away from the guitarist, but drew it onto me.
With a roar, he tried to throw me off, but I was so hyped it was like King Kong trying to swat planes.
He let go of the guitarist, grabbed me and as I felt skin rip and chain break, I hit the deck, standing.
But then in a split second, I saw his fist heading straight for my face.
It was too late for me to duck, and he caught me right on the cheek.
The pub stopped in silence as I fell; this bloke had punched out far bigger people than me, with less effort.
But not me.
I bounced right back up again, and went in for round two.
It was probably for the best that it was then that the ex arrived, and with the assistance of another chap, they grabbed me by the elbows and carried me away behind the bar as the coppers turned up en mass.
A few minutes later I came back out from the kitchen feeling a little dazed and clutching an ice pack to my face.
A police officer came over to take my statement, and the guitarist came over to say his thanks.
The brick-shi*-house was dragged away in handcuffs, with a parting cry of 'Tell her not to press charges!", and the barmaid came over with a large glass of wine for me.
From that day on, I never had any trouble out of anyone in that pub.
I wonder why?