Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Once upon a time I ended up helping to run a pub near Reading by mistake*. It was a lovely place; four hundred years old and full of creeks and groans with wonky floors and doors that didn't match the frames. My room, which I shared with the then-partner-in-crime, was fabulously crooked, so much that the bed had to be balanced over the slopes so that you didn't roll out during the night, and a table placed so that you ate you dinner either leaning over the meal or propping the plate with a towel so the food didn't escape.
I doubt there was a single properly flat or straight wall or floorboard in the entire building and first time customers would sometimes look a bit seasick until they became accustomed to the lay of the floor.
It was a wonderful place, and I still miss it to this day.
Anyway, this tale is all about the day some rather stuck-up 'Hooray Henry' types came for drinks after a day at Ascot. The were the sort of loud, braying fuckwits people with noses made to stare down at others with a look of disdain on their faces, and the attitude that if you talked loudly and condescendingly to the 'lower classes' they'd be absolutely delighted to serve you.
Do you think I was delighted to 'serve' them?
They settled themselves at a table and simply sat there. I waited for one of them to come to the bar to order some drinks but instead they just kept sitting there, braying loudly to each other. After about ten minutes one of them called out to me and asked when I was going to come over and take their order as they'd decided what they wanted to drink.
The few regulars in the bar stifled laughter as I explained that this was a pub and they had to come to the bar themselves if they wanted a drink.
A short while later they'd managed to order a round of drinks and even coped with taking the glasses to the table all by themselves.
When I saw that some of the glasses were empty, I went to take them back to the bar and gave the ashtrays and table a clean as well.
For some reason this made one of the more particularly shrill men ask why it was that I could take empty glasses back to the bar, but not deliver full ones to the table. I was about to say something back but his comment made the whole pack of them fall about laughing for some strange reason.
After a few more rounds they were getting rather more obnoxious, and I was tempted to tell them we were closing early just to get rid of them.
I decided they could stay for one more round, but that was it. The money they were spending wasn't worth the shitty attitude they had, not one iota.
One of them tried to get my attention by clicking his fingers and whistling, so I went around the bar looking to see if they'd lost a dog before going back behind the bar to ignore them once more.
After a while he got the message that clicking his fingers wasn't going to work so he came up to the bar with his chinless wonder of a girlfriend to help him.
They ordered some pints of lager, a couple more Pimms and a large white wine before the girlfriend decided she wanted a large glass of red wine.
I went and opened the bottle and got one of the over-sized wine glasses that most folk don't realize holds about 3 units, for which I charged her quite happily.
As the girl had been to Ascot, she was wearing an obviously very expensive designer creation that showed wealth and bad taste and made her look like she'd been attacked by a meringue and wrapped in cotton wool. It was hideous, and so were all of them. I really didn't enjoy them being in my pub at all.
But then something lovely happened!
The girl was walking back to her seat when she managed to tread on one of the more wonky floorboards which gave an incredibly loud creak before throwing her off balance so she slipped and landed flat on her arse and totally covered in red wine which ran down her frock in great clarety rivers.
She howled and I tried not to laugh as I wished I had a camera, and I managed to keep a straight face as her boyfriend demanded that somehow it was my fault.
I said it was most certainly nothing to do with me if she'd managed to fall off the floor and managed to show some concern when asking if she was alright and would she like a towel?
To my delight they stormed out vowing never to return to such a shoddy establishment ever again.
The really strange thing was that when I went to check the floorboard with one of the locals, we couldn't find anything wrong with it at all.
I really, really miss that pub.

*Affiliated with Surrey by mistake, by mistake.