Tuesday, March 13, 2007


A few years ago I ended up helping to run a pub near Reading by mistake. It was where I met the then-partner-in-crime, and after a while we settled into a routine of him doing the cellar stuff, while I made the kitchen my domain. Not that I new nothing about cellars, I can change a barrel and stack a keg with the best of them, but it just happened that way.

Anyway, the only thing I didn't know how to do in the beer department, was how to change the gas, ie: the CO2 and Nitro mix stuff that got the beers to the pumps and made it fizzy. The-then-partner-in-crime said that a) it was very unlikely I'd ever have to do it, and b) as it was potentially dangerous he'd rather do it himself, as - no offence - it could take a bit of strength to get the bottles to play nicely. After hearing the words 'potentially dangerous' I was more than happy to remain ignorant about the whole caboodle.

But as with all best made plans, there's always a point when they go tits belly up, and sure enough the time came when it happened.
The TPIC had had to go stay over at one of the other pubs in the company leaving me on my own for the Monday and Tuesday. Being the quietest days in the pub, all was well, and the Monday rolled past just fine. Tuesday was another matter though.

For some reason the lunchtime rush was twice as busy as usual, and I was rushed off my paws scampering around serving up food and pints without even the time to stop and scratch my posterior, and sure enough the rush called for a couple of barrels to be changed.
All was still going swimmingly as the chaos subsided, and at about 2 o'clock, the bar was all quiet and peaceful again. Only five or so of the regulars remained, and I set about clearing up whilst dispensing the odd pint of ale or lager.

Then the gas ran out.

Now the TPIC wasn't due back until the evening, and I knew that the late afternoon rush of local builders would be in and clamouring for lager well before then. There was nothing else for it, I was going to have to change the gas...

I called the TPIC, and leaving the bar in the safe hands of the oldest regular, I set off clutching the phone into the corridor where the gas cupboard was. Following instructions, I switched off the canister that had run out and removed the pipe attached to it. I found the spanner that was needed to re-attach it to the full one, and listening very, very carefully, set about the job.

Now, remember I said that this was 'potentially dangerous'? Well the potential bit was that if there was any fault in the threads or the pipes were not put in place exactly right, the gas could escape causing the pipe to lash out and whip you, or, and this was rarer, cause a fuc bloody large explosion. I was nervous to say the least, but the TPIC calmed me down and kept talking me through the procedure. Putting down the phone, I set about attaching the pipe to the new canister, and was doing well until


The phone clattered to the floor as the corridor shook, the doors rattled, and according to the regulars I screamed. While I stood there with my eyes closed and awaiting my hearing to come back, the regulars rushed out to see what had happened. Very, very luckily, I was alright. I picked up the phone and in a shaky, small voice asked, "Well, was that supposed to happen or not?"

Apparently it was not part of the agenda. I'd had the bad luck to get a dodgy thread on my first attempt which meant that as soon as I'd started to attach the pipe the gas had come out in a mad rush.

The canister was sent back to the brewery with a large label on it reading 'Faulty - due for the scrap heap' which was how I felt for most of the rest of the day.

I have refused to go near the gas in a pub since.