I’m not sure why I agreed to it. My nan always said ‘Be sure your sins will find you out.’ I think she might have been right but there’s still time and I might be able to extricate myself. How do I get myself into such scrapes? Well we need to retrace our steps, but how far back is it necessary to go? Difficult to say, I suppose upbringing is the origin although genealogy could indicate genetics may have some influence, but I am not going to bore you with my life’s history just a few details that are salient to the story which is about to unfold.
First off my name, I’m not sure why my mother chose it, possibly a single parent with no significant other to discuss it with. My father did a runner when he heard of my imminent arrival. So the name, my birth certificate states that Ezra Barnaby Crummins was born on, enough of that. The name EZRA you can imagine the trouble I had as a child, the teasing, name calling, so school was a nightmare and I eventually left with no qualifications. Drifted from unskilled labour to unskilled labour, even worked in an Amazon warehouse, hell. I know all about minimum hours contracts and the living wage.
I could have followed the route of many of my friends, drink, drugs, living on the streets, even the lure of London didn’t attract me. But this is where my name saved me.
My mother, who was always there for me, knew someone who knew someone who owned a bar who wanted bar staff to cover holiday absences. So off I went for an interview. It was in one of those trendy bars in the Jewellery Quarter. Part art gallery, part tapas bar, part jazz club and a would be cocktail lounge.
‘Pleased to meet you Ezra,’ I was greeted with a handshake and a big smile. After the formalities were over another large smile and handshake,
‘I’m pleased to say Ezra I can offer you the job.’ I was gobsmacked, my mouth dropped open, I didn’t know what to say. He laughed again. ‘Do you know what got you the job?’ I shook my head. ‘Your name.’ I was nonplussed. He laughed again, ‘It’s a family name. The eldest boy is always called Ezra and anyone called Ezra must be a good egg.’ I didn’t know what he meant but so began my career as barman, mixologist and general factotum.
I had made myself indispensable, and that was almost my undoing. I had been working in the bar for almost a year a jack of all trades by that time. The boss had a brainwave, ‘We’ll have a jazz night, a nod to the roaring twenties, a ticket only affair.’ I must admit to feeling quite keen, I thought he was going to ask me to conjure up some twenties style cocktails so my thoughts were away planning that so I missed his next comment.
Big problem number one as I nodded my agreement. Now one thing I’ve failed to mention up till this point is that I have a slight habit of embroidering the truth. My nan had recognised this from an early age, another of her favourite sayings was ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil.’ I hadn’t a clue what she meant but I think I’m just beginning to realise.
My slight truth embroidery had been that I knew Jamie Cullum, well I didn’t really but my mother knew someone who knew someone who went to the same school, so that meant I was within touching distance. And I must have told the boss.
‘That OK then Ezra? You get in touch with Jamie and I’ll sort out the publicity. Ciao.’ Before I’d a chance to think of a reply he’d gone. There I was right up to my neck in it, how could I solve the problem and save my job. I did what I always did when my own stupidity caused a dilemma, told my mom and nan. Nan did her best Les Dawson impression of Ada, ample breasts supported by folded arms and puckered lips showing her astonishment of ‘another fine mess you’ve got into.’
‘Don’t worry love, we’ll think of something.’ And that’s exactly what they did. My mother lives on one of those sprawling housing estates in a high rise which she loves. The social hub of the place is the Working Men’s Club, or Working Person’s Club as my equal rights feminist mama insists. She visits this place at weekends with my nan, she has her gin and tonic and nan a port and lemon. My palate has become quite refined after working in the bar so I stick to real ale from micro breweries. And the club is where Joe is the manager, and he was to be my salvation.
To be continued (hopefully)