Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A fair few moons ago I was helping to run a pub near Reading. It was a lovely pub in a very nice village that was not only 'chocolate box' beautiful, but also a place where the locals were mostly friendly, which is always a bonus when running a pub.
After a month or so I knew pretty much all the regulars, when they came in, what their 'usual' was, how long they'd be staying and all the bits and pieces a good publican should know.
I did have my favourite regulars, such as the chap who turned up everyday for a pint of IPA and to watch Countdown (we played against each other if I had time) the gang that trundled in for the quiz on Sunday nights, the chaps that worked in the office next door who were always good for a laugh, and the many 'eccentrics' that every good village should have that have an opinion on anything and everything and have to share.
But of course my real favourites were the customers of the four legged and furry persuasion. All dogs were welcome, and as long as they didn't start any fights or wee on the furniture, they could stay as long as they liked, and the same applied to the humans as well.
One gorgeous canine was a fluffy Border Collie who came in each day with his human after work. The human was a builder and every day, regular as clockwork, come five-thirty pm I'd pour out a pint and a half of Guinness, the pint in a pint glass, and the half in a bowl for the dog.
Both dog and human were very well behaved and polite, and neither smashed back their drink, preferring to sip (or lick) and make it last for a while.
They would only have the one as the human had to drive the van the rest of the way home, and he didn't want to lose his licence, which was sensible.
But one day found the human sans van. He'd left it at work as it was refusing to start, and a couple of his work friends had given him and the dog a lift to the pub, and as they'd helped, the human offered to buy them a drink.
So that day, instead of the chap and the dog having just the one, as they didn't have to drive they decided to stay with their mates and have a drink.
As I finished my shift at six o'clock, I bade them a farewell and went upstairs with my dinner and had a well deserved sit down for a while.
After an hour or so I noticed that there was rather more noise than there usually was to be heard in the bar, so I went to make sure all was alright.
I was met by the scene of the human, his two friends and the dog, all totally slarmy and playing frisbee with the beer mats. I think it was mostly to entertain the dog, but the poor thing was so drunk, every time it went to catch one it would crash into the furniture with a daft, lopsided grin on it's face. I asked the barman how many they'd had, and was told that they'd each had four pints, all within the space of about an hour.
The human - not being one to drink heavily - was about as pished as the dog, and was also bumping into furniture with a daft, lopsided grin on his face.
I decided it was probably for the best that I called a stop to their drinking and suggested that it would be a very good thing to call a cab and go home for some food and sleep.
Luckily they had the nous to realize I was making sense, but they declined the offer of a cab, with the human insisting that he and the dog would be ashbolutley finesh.
So off they went into the evening air, with the poor dog desperately trying to make all four paws work together, and the chap bumping his way along via lampposts.
The next day I was opening up as per usual when the phone went. I answered and heard a female voice bollocking me for getting her husband drunk. I thought I was in for a right ear bashing when she began to laugh. Her husband (the builder) was lying beside her completely unable to move because of a seriously bad hangover, which meant that he couldn't get to work and neither could he get the van fixed, and she was just making his life as painful as possible to teach him a lesson. Apparently he'd never been able to hold his drink and as it was self inflicted she had no sympathy, especially as he'd rolled home at about nine-thirty, clutching a half eaten kebab, and with his trousers round his ankles singing the 'Vindaloo' song. She was not impressed. I asked how the dog was, and was told he was fine and even had the sense not to help eat the kebab.
I said something along the lines of 'yes, I understand, yada-yada' and thought no more would come of it, except that when next he came in, I was going to remind him what happened when he drank.
At five thirty that day I decided not to pour out a pint and a half of Guinness as he was probably still ill, and started polishing some glasses instead.
At five thirty-five I heard a bark.
I looked over the bar to see the Border Collie looking very chipper and waiting for his bowl of Guinness.
I explained that he was only allowed half a pint and he woofed again which I took as an agreement.
From that day on if the human couldn't get to the pub, the dog would come in on his own, and I can honestly say he was the best, most well behaved customer, and definitely my favourite.