Things not to do when you are a barman.
Just for Lou.
There is a well known junction where the A4 and the A329 meet in Reading called Cemetery Junction. Not surprisingly on one corner of this junction is a large cemetery, but on the opposite corner is a landmark pub that was known as the "Jack o' both sides." You'll be glad to hear it's not there any more. It has since become (I gather) a trendy nightspot for the local poo jabbers.
Well back in 1990 a humble student needed a job. Anything done for food, and a bar job in the pub seemed a perfect idea. A simple barman's job was advertised for, and muggins here got it. I remember the landlord well. He was of darker skin then most (Jamaican I think), and had been bought up in Yorkshire. I remember distinctly he reminded me of Les Dawson, and told a tale just as well. Anyway, I digress (GET ON WITH IT!)
Now I am always the one you can call if you need help. On this particular day they had been let down by their regular barman, and I got the call. "Okay," I said, "I'll be there within the hour." Dragging myself out of bed, and a quick scan showed I needed a shave and a shampoo. It was after the shampoo and in the hurry, I was rather too vigorous with the towel. The sort of maneouvre that could be classified as brutality if done to someone else, and a loud "craaaaaaaaaaaaaaack" could be heard. My head fell very gently to one side. Could I move it? Nope. Stuck fast. It would have been good if I had a mobile phone because I could have made it look like a phonecall, but I didn't. Instead I just looked like a twat.
I still went to work (I could barely walk straight), but rattled from all the paracetamol that had been taken. Well I couldn't have been behind the bar for more then an hour when "Les" asked me to clean the optics. I started at one end of the bar, directly above the till. Above the till were the 3 main categories of wine (White, Red and bleah!) in large 1.5 litre bottles, and these were measured out by optics as well. Taking down the nearly full bottle of white wasn't a problem, I mean gravity was on my side right? Optic removed and cleaned I go to put the bottle back up. Now, children, don't try this at home. Lean your head onto your right shoulder and then try to pick up your right arm to head height. It doesn't happen, I dunno why, but it just doesn't. The firmly seated optic at the now upturned bottle wasn't so firmly seated, and fell out. The bottle started to empty with a quiet dribble to start off with, but slowly became a glug glug and waves of the Rhine Valley's finest poured out. All over the till. Now if the till had been one of the old piano key types I would have been okay, but alas no, it was a new fangled one with a rubber membrane over it and each and every key was a different drink. I'll never forget the noise it made. I noticed something was wrong as I was struggling with the bottle, and the display was showing E-144.
"Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep" and all went dark. The whole pub had fused. That's it I thought, the Germans have succeeded! They have disguised it as wine all the time, but in reality it is an electrical howitzer designed to blow things up! I argued my innocence to "Les" but in his dulcet tones he decided it was better if I didn't darken their door. Cash was handed over from the till "for my troubles" after much grappling with pliers and screwdriver to get it open, and I went home. I was depressed, so I popped into the offy on the way home, and treated myself to a large bottle of plonk. Lessons were learned.
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