Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weights and Measures.

Some years ago when I was helping run the pub near Reading by mistake, I made an error by hiring someone who turned out to be a complete wan bad egg.
I was the manager of the place and in charge of the kitchen, but this aerosol would pretend that he was the manager to new customers and if the then partner-in-crime and I were out for the evening, would close the kitchen as soon as we'd gone.
Obviously that little game didn't last long, and although I wanted to sack him on the spot we were seriously short of staff. Also, I didn't have any tangible evidence to get rid of him in a hurry so I decided to wait a little while and gather some proof.
One day I had the morning off and decided to pootle round the charity shops in the village to catch up on the gossip and see if I could find me a treat.
I went back to the pub at lunchtime to find the feckwit barman looking very flustered indeed.
The look on his face when he saw me could only be described as relief and I sussed out PDQ that he'd pretended he was the manager to the wrong person, ie: a man from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, Weights and Measures department.
Trying desperately not to laugh at the sad act bar steward, I smiled warmly at the chap, explained that I was the manager and although it was my day off, could I help him in any way?
He stared at the barman with a bemused expression before saying that yes, I could, as he was there to do a spot check on everything in the bar and kitchen.
I told the barman to make us some coffee before showing the Weights and Measures chap around.
I knew there was nothing to worry about in my kitchen, and was pretty sure the then-partner-in-crime wasn't dealing dodgy vodka or anything so I wasn't worried whatsoever by the visit, and as the chap went about his business with notepads, checklists and bits of litmus paper I asked him about his work as I'd never had a visit from his department before.
He told me about the everyday stuff he had to do and some of the weird and wonderful things he'd found when people tried to cheat the system, but one tale in particular nearly had me falling of my bar stool in hysterical giggles.
One day he went to a pub to do the usual business. It was a nice pub in a village with a load of regulars and a landlord who had all been there for many years, and although it was his first visit there he was made very welcome.
He'd arrived early and the bar was very quiet with only three old boys sat at the bar and a rather dubious looking weaselly man perched at the far end of it.
The landlord went about his work as did he, whilst the chaps at the bar asked him the usual questions and so.
Suddenly the man noticed the weaselly little man at the end of the bar, get up from his stool, draw himself up to his full height, stretch out his arm holding his glass as far as he could to reach the nearest whiskey optic, get a measure out, sit back down again as if nothing had happened and take a long sip.
He stared in astonishment and then asked the chaps at the bar 'sotto voce' if they'd seen what the man had done as well.
As one they chuckled and said 'Oh yes, Wee Jimmy and his free whiskey'. They new all about his tricks they explained.
What was happening had been going on for years.
Wee Jimmy was not the most popular bloke in the village and was known for being a scrounging, obnoxious man, with a history of petty crime which and in a village that was a very close knit, was not the right cup of tea for anybody there.
Wee Jimmy thought he was getting one over on the landlord by stealing the whiskey, and would brag about how he got away with it when he was out of his head at the end of the night.
But what Wee Jimmy didn't know, was that the landlord knew all about what Wee Jimmy was up to, and Wee Jimmy's bottle of whiskey was only for Wee Jimmy's use.
Although the label on the bottle read that it contained a good quality drink, the landlord went and bought the cheapest gut-rot he could find to top it up.
Not only did he top it up with the gut-rot, he went and added a good few measures of 'Landlord's Own Best', or rather he wee'd in the bottle.
Wee Jimmy wasn't called Wee because of his height, and had only acquired the moniker since he'd began drinking the stuff.
The man from Weights and Measures didn't ask any questions when the landlord came back and said politely not to test the last bottle of whiskey at the end of the bar either.

Oh, and I got all the proof I needed to sack the barman within two days, and it was a very sweet moment when I told him to clear his room and go.

Happy days indeed.