THE BAR STEWARD
In the early eighties I worked behind the bar at a pub in Woking called the Surrey.
However it was not named after the county in which it stood but rather the horse drawn carriage as featured in the musical "Oklahoma "the Surrey with the fringe on top.
The pub was built in the mid sixties as a pre-fabricated temporary structure to service the fast expanding local area and was meant to be replaced by a permanent brick built pub at a later date.
The prefab pub still stands in the same spot and is still in use as a pub.
The pub was a typical example of the period and unlike today you had a wide range of bitters on offer and a small selection of lagers now of course it's the other way round.
The youth of today take no time to develop the taste for good ales instead choosing something that's merely cold and wet.
Anyway as I said I worked behind the bar, I had been a regular there for a few years Before Phil asked me if I wanted a job and I even played on the darts team for two seasons was mentioned in the Woking News and Mail for best start and highest finish in a 7 ' 1 thrashing of the Royal Oak.
It was an alright pub nothing special but alright and with the usual mix of heroes and villains, unremarkable's and unforgetable's, the good the bad and the ugly.
In the unforgettable category came two people of particular distinction firstly was Old Bob who was eighty three when I knew him h was an ex Coldstream Guard and a veteran of the Great War and a real character and secondly Ray Robinson another ex army man though of younger vintage, Ray was an ex Grenadier turned social worker, incidentally the only social worker I didn't want to slap, who every Christmas gave up his time to dress up as Santa and be flown by helicopter to various children's homes, when there was still such a thing, delivering presents.
He would always raise at least one glass to the regiment and he called his long suffering wife his Duchess.
He was truly a good man who was sadly taken to young at the hands of cancer, a great loss.
Ray was the only person able to get anything resembling a proper smile out of Phil the landlord.
Phil and his wife Pat were an odd couple they were like a pair of miscast actors in a soap opera and totally unsuited for the profession they found themselves in.
What prompted them to pursue a career in the pub trade we will never ever know but it was a bad move.
They had no concept of hospitality and an inability to foster even an ounce of goodwill from their customers and there was more than a hint of being inconvenienced when they had to stop what they were doing something to serve someone.
They were indeed an unwelcoming pair but although Phil was not accustomed to smiling his wife Pat wore an expression on her face that could stop traffic but thankfully she kept away much of the time.
On one Sunday I was working the lunchtime shift when Pat appeared from the back room, it was very rare to see her at all on a Sunday but putting in an appearance at lunch time was totally unheard of, but there she was.
A man put two glasses on the counter, one pint and a spirit, just as Pat stepped through the door and he called to her.
"Pint of lager and a vodka and lime
Pat hadn't seen the man put the glasses on the counter but picked up the pint glass that stood in front of him and asked.
"Is this the lager?
"It'd look bloody stupid with a vodka and lime in it he retorted
Pat put the glass down and turned round and upstairs.
It was an interesting job at times and it had its perks.
For instance I always hate New Years Eve mainly because it's such a pointless celebration that now seems to be another excuse to let off fireworks.
Also I hate it because if you stay at home there's nothing on TV if you go out the pubs, clubs and restaurants are packed and all the organized parties end at 12.15, house parties never end but then house parties are pants unless your sixteen.
The best ever New Years Eve I ever spent was behind the bar at the Surrey what a great night, plenty of room behind the bar, free entertainment, wages and tips by the bucket load.
On the same Sunday that Pat had put in her brief appearance I was also working the evening shift which, due to heavy snowfall, was the quietest shift I ever worked we only had three customers in all night in fact Phil even went the other side of the bar to make up a foursome on the dart board.
At the end of the evening we sent off our three intrepid customers and locked up and after clearing away, which didn't tae long, I headed off myself.
My car was buried at the wrong end of the car park so I decided to leave the car and walk.
I could half got the car out if I'd wanted but I like the snow and we don't get much of it so I took the chance to walk home in it.
When I got to within a hundred yards of home I needed to cross the road just after a junction.
I looked up the road and there was a car heading in my direction but it was fifty yards away and as I was crossing after the junction and the car was already indicating left I deemed it safe to cross.
When I was half way over I noticed that although the car was indicating left and the front wheels were turning to the left the car was not in fact it was coming straight for me.
I decided I would move quicker but suddenly I was like a cartoon character with my legs going like pistons and yet I was still in the same spot.
It was a surreal slow motion moment with the car getting slowly closer and I could see the panic in the drivers face and I was still not moving.
Then simultaneously the car suddenly veered violently to the left and it slewed round the corner and my feet at last gained some traction and I found myself on the pavement were I fell on my backside.
A few months after my near death experience I gave up my job at the Surrey in order to run the Social club bar where I had my day job but I still frequented my local on my free evenings.