Holding screwdrivers and conversations: the art of being the Compleat Taverner

Tales from the Other Side (of the bar)

This blog is the revenge of a retired landlord on that most loathsome of customers, Mr Joseph Public.

Even when there were lots of pubs, some people didn’t know how they worked and made the stupidest statements, such as, “We’d like something to drink and some food”. This is the equivalent of walking into Top Shop and saying, “I’d like some clothes and some worthless jewellery.” They also asked the stupidest questions. Now there are far fewer, the questions have got a whole lot more stupid……

  1. Do you have a toilet?

Strangely, in a licensed premises in the 21st century, we do have lavatories. Inside too. Although I prefer to say, “No” and produce a bucket. An extreme version of this enquiry is, “Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to have a toilet by any chance?”.

  1. Do you know where the Gents is?

No, I’ve only been here for a decade and it’s such a big, rambling old building that I haven’t found the toilets yet. That’s why I walk in this peculiar way. I’ll let you know when I do.

  1. Do you do food?

Madam, the premises is littered with menus, specials boards, people clattering their knives and forks and waitresses carrying piles of plates. No, we don’t serve food, you’ve walked into a play.

  1. Are you still serving food?

It’s five past twelve. Noon. Do you think we serve for five minutes only?

  1. Are you still serving food?

It’s five past midnight and you’ve been in here since seven. Three times you have been asked if you are eating with us. Now fuck off.

  1. Are you open?

Well, all of the doors are locked (you know that because you’ve tried to pull them all off of their hinges). None of the lights are on and the bar stools are stacked on the bar, upside down. There is nobody else around and it’s 4pm on a Monday afternoon in February. You are standing in the garden, ringing me up to ask this question. What does it look like to you?

  1. Do you have lamb’s kidneys on?

We have a menu. The things that are ‘on’ are listed either on it, or on the various boards that your waitress has read to you. Everything else is ‘off’. If you want me to go and catch a lamb, eviscerate it, fill in the Lamb Evisceration Forms, cook it and serve it to you, you may have a little wait. Otherwise, read AND CHOOSE FROM the menu. Yes, I know you had lamb’s kidneys the last time you were in; that’s because then, it was on the menu. Now it isn’t. No, I don’t know when it’s coming back. No, I don’t know when I will know when it’s coming back. Yes, it’s still the same chef. No, he doesn’t know either.

  1. What vegan, gluten-free desserts do you have?

A carrot.

  1. Did you see episode three of that thing with wossname in it/ that brilliant Barca game/ the interview with Hitler last night? It was the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV.

No, I was standing here serving people like you ie people who like to rub it in and point out what long hours I must work when they are propping up the bar two hours after everyone else has left.

  1. Any chance of another one?

I started work at 8am with a delivery. It is now 11:40pm and the bell rang forty minutes ago. It is not my fault that you didn’t hear it. Do you wait until Marks and Spencer’s closes and then bang on the door asking to buy a shirt? Of course not, that would be the action of an imbecile, which is what you have become after five and a half pints.

Bonus question – How big is the soup?