Taking The Rough With The Smooth
Dear Diary...It was the middle of the 1970s , probably about 1977, the day I took a job looking after a three year old for a landlord and his wife who ran a pub, seemed to be the perfect solution to my accommodation problem at the time. I was living in and given a room above the bar, it had everything I needed, a wardrobe, dressing table with a chair, a bed and sink in the corner, I just had to share the bathroom which was fine by me. It wasn't the most perfect lodgings to sleep in, because of the noise every night from the drunks, but taking the rough with the smooth it was fun, especially on my days off when I could join the other pub revelers and have a good time.
The pub was like a magnet to me, even on my days off I would be found propping up the bar, spending afternoons chatting to the regulars and meeting new people who came in. I remember one old guy who had a seat up at the bar, he'd claimed that chair for his own and nobody else was allowed to sit in it.
One particular afternoon I was helping the landlord wash the glasses, when this gorgeous hunk of a guy walked in, he wasn't my usual type with his short cut hair – I was always attracted to men with long hair and beards but this guy was clean shaven, there was just something about his eyes when he smiled at me, I became flushed and that old sexual magic was sending my insides to do cartwheels. I just had to get to know him! I thought to myself.
Well unfortunately he'd plonked himself down in the old man's chair. At the time I had no idea that this chair was already allocated to the old gentleman, even if I'd known I probably wouldn't have mentioned anything to him. In my eyes people should be allowed to sit wherever they wish. Anyway, the landlord immediately told him to vacate the seat as the old gentleman would be in soon, but unfortunately there were no other seats available up at the bar, so not wanting to make a fuss, I asked him to join me at one of the tables, to which he agreed.
Spending the rest of the afternoon chatting to this guy was a real pleasure and a break from glass washing...to which I might add I wasn't being paid for doing at that time, I needed to keep busy otherwise I'd have drunk way too much.
As we were in conversation, the landlord approached me asking if I'd like to earn some extra money and work that evening behind the bar, due to the fact a darts match was being played and he needed extra staff. Well! To be honest I was petrified having never served on a busy night.
“Just do what you can,” he informed me. “If you have any problems just let me know.”
The guy I was sat with smiled, said he'd come in and give me some support, though I didn't think it was support I needed. This was a challenge I wasn't sure if I was up to, having only served regulars who were kind enough to have patience with me if I gave them the wrong change, or didn't fill their glasses up enough.
I did get teased a lot when I first started, because I would fill the glasses up to the brim, when the landlord found out he was understanding, but told me there was a line on the glass and I shouldn't go past that line. In the end I agreed to work that evening and spent the rest of the afternoon panicking, wondering what the hell I'd let myself in for.
When dinner was finished with and I'd done the washing up, the landlady said she'd put her daughter to bed, a job I normally did but not tonight. So I went up to my room and had a wash, found something suitable to wear for working in the bar, if I remember rightly it was my usual comfortable attire of jeans and a black top, I've always felt confident in jeans and black tops, which was probably my favorite color at the time, as it's always been...boy was I going to need a lot of confidence tonight.
At 7 pm I made my way down to the bar which wasn't too busy. The landlord had changed all the barrels ready for a hectic night. By 7.30pm the pub was starting to fill up, as the home team and away team arrived in high spirits.
Now began the moment of truth as customer after customer approached me. Pint after pint, gin and tonics, lagers, rum and coke...the list went on and on. Then a man came up to the bar from the home team and asked for a round of drinks and said stick it on the slate! Uh! I thought, what the hell is a slate? I had no idea at the time, but the rest of the staff were too busy, so I just took a guess that the landlord had set up an agreement with the guy.
All evening I served, by 11pm I was absolutely knackered and ready for bed, but knew I would have to help with the clearing up, so would just have to carry on. You wouldn't believe how hard landlords work, it's not just about serving customers, but work still goes on even after the customers have gone.
As the evening drew to a close, the guy who asked me to put the drinks on the slate approached the bar. Rubbing his hands together he asked how much he owed. Well! I just stood there, not sure of what to say, but spoke anyway. “I thought you had a slate with the landlord?” I questioned.
“Yeah!” He said, “I do...why?”
“Well!” I replied. “I presumed you'd already paid for the drinks.” I felt so utterly stupid, because he then began to inform me that a slate was where I had to tally up the prices of the drinks he'd bought and let him know how much he had to pay at the end of the evening.
I was absolutely scared to death, because I'd not only been giving him free drinks all night, but I had no idea what to tell the landlord who was now looking at me in a strange way.
Coming over to us, the landlord asked. “What's wrong? Is there a problem?”
“Well actually there is,” said the customer, smiling at me. “But I'm sure we can sort it out.”
“So!” asked the landlord. “What's going on?”
“Well! The young girl's given us drinks all night, too which I asked to be put on the slate. But she appears to have no idea how much the drinks came too.”
The landlord gazed at me with dagger eyes. I felt my world slipping down the plughole fast, as I could hear my heart beat and I was shaking like a leaf, feeling tears begin to well up in my eyes.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” He demanded. “If you didn't know what a slate was, why didn't you come and ask me?”
I started to stutter. “I! I'm so sorry, It...it was so busy, I didn't want to bother you. I just presumed...” Before I had a chance to say anymore, he ordered me to wash all the glasses and sweep the floor, saying he'd have to deal with the gentleman in question.
Goodness knows how much drink the man had ordered, but I lost my job at the pub. It was the first and last time I ever worked in a bar again. I didn't blame the landlord for getting angry, it was entirely my fault. I never did get to see that guy again, as he never turned up that night, so a double whammy! Oh...Well! That's life as I always say.