Because I’ve had a lot on I’ve nothing to write about except having a lot on which will bore you to near death. And it’s summer and I’ve noticed in summer that us bloggers get a bit lackadaisical. And rightly so. We have BBQ’s to make, cocktails to drink and light nights to make the days even frikkin longer. And, I fully appreciate that “It’s summer” doesn’t sound normal coming out of an English bird’s mouth but summer has been here for quite a long bit and I’ve got a better tan than when I went to Hawaii once and fell asleep on the beach and then got washed out to sea by a wave break and nearly died. But that’s another story.
However, I have a tale to tell you that I meant to regale, way back when it was winter a few months ago but forgot because I had more fun things to do. The story was re-lived the other day and is still a hot topic in my neck of the woods where real ale, real people and real debauchery thrive.
Where I reside, which is a lot like wonderland, there are three pubs in a row. I kid you not, in a row, so you don’t have to walk far or even crawl. It’s more of a pub step which means you can put your killer heels on and know that everything is going to be fine; unless you have to cross the road to get to the two wine bars and one gin house which does happen because once you’ve had a few at the pub, you get that pretentious cocktail feeling. So, there are six places to drink mere steps from each other. They all make a shed load of money because people come from far and wide and ever so locally because it makes drinking a lot in a short space of time easy. There are three people from my area who have made it to the Guinness Book of Records for being able to down yards of ale in seconds. Now let me explain the pubs ( not the wine bars because they speak for themselves – full of bored, rich housewives dressed like their teenage daughters and trying to pull the fit bartender or the pissed off, somebody else’s husband at the bar after work)
There’s a Wetherspoons – I won’t have to explain a Wetherspoons to any Brit on here because they’re as ubiquitous as Starbucks, but for my American pals, think big open pub with cheap food and cheap beer. It’s where everyone goes to get hammered for a tenner before they move on to being robbed blind at the rest of the joints. I’ve seen people drinking there at breakfast, noon and night and even know someone who died there at the mere age of thirty -two. This is actually a ripe old age if you camp out daily at Wetherspoons. And no, you can’t sue for this.
Then we have a traditional type pub with food and various music nights and then my favourite which is a CAMRA pub ( Campaign For Real Ales) set in a great building which used to be an old bakery. Lots of music here and cyclists and hardcore proper ale drinkers that know how to appreciate a room temperature, solid, high percentage, ludicrously named beer ( that was to educate my American friends ;)) and feel part of the “in” crowd. It is in this pub that my story takes place. Picture the scene: Nice rustic wooden floors, leather couches and stools, old barrels used as substitute tables and that kind of malarkey. The people in here are usually well bred locals and business people, fitness addicts and musicians. Those kind of middle class Brits with sharp witted tongues, tweed jackets or expensive casuals and really nice wallets full of hard earnt money. You get the picture? Right.
I went in here with my best friend who’s a nurse. I sensibly chose a medic as my best friend because I thought that was very appropriate for someone like me but it turned out that she’s no better than I am. I know lots of people in this pub because I live in the area and everyone goes by their name and trade if you know them well. I am Jules the writer, for example though I’m sure I’ve heard them say other things. We sat round a barrel on bar stools talking with a few regulars, Andy the framer, Tom the barber, Simon the builder (who’s actually a carpenter but that’s too many syllables) Paul the pond bloke, John the coach and so on…
The drinks flowed as richly as the banter and for some reason myself and friend decided it would be fun if we all swapped coats. This was borne from Andy the framer using my furry winter coat in the past to go outside for a fag where it’s cold despite me having hung it up for safety on a coat hook. There are hundreds of people who have pictures on their phones of Andy the framer and other people I don’t even know wearing my coat without ever asking. It’s OK, because when they leave their £20 notes in my pocket, I don’t tell them. You really had to be there to find this funny but when some muscle bound builder is trying to put a girls tight sleeved coat on before he has his drink, it’s hilarious. However, rules stated, it had to be donned before imbibing was allowed. I went from body warmer to posh totty coats to donkey jackets and so on. At one point I even had a tool belt and a wooly hat which I think I sported with exquisite style. The event caused a stir with others wanting to play but then came along Miss. Prickly who Andy the framer found outside on her own and brought in to join us because he’s a soft hearted buffoon. Simon the builder didn’t look too happy when she announced that she knew him from the past, they’d dated once and he’d shagged her best friend at a party and ruined her life thereafter. Simon insisted he couldn’t recall this though the blood had drained from his face. However, at the time he was wearing my mates skin tight raincoat and could barely breathe.
Now this woman seemed a bit cold and probably upset about life in general, I surmised, so I made a real effort to be nice to her by asking her lots of questions about herself and feigning interest in the curt answers.
“What are you? A psychologist or something?” she snapped.
“Only for sport,” I replied. “Anyway, we’re playing coat swapping so get your kit off and pass it to Tom the barber. ALL SWAP!”
“I’m not playing coat swapping,” she said in disgust. “My coat is from Marks.”
NB: Need to explain Marks to the Americans. It’s a department store called Marks and Spencer but we, over here, refer to it as Marks or Marks and Sparks. It’s a very middle class, suburban kinda department store. A bit like shopping at Wholefoods rather than Walmarts.
Now this girl began to irritate me. I don’t like it when fun sponges crash my event and try and take over. PLUS, I was trying to be nice to her and she was rude. Im a pleasant, kind and friendly type of person and would never do malice to anyone but… if you persist in poking the bear be ready for the bite.
“My coat’s from Prada and I’m still sharing,” I said. My coat wasn’t from Prada but she wouldn’t know that cos she shops at M ’n’ S (anther acronym for said shop)
“No, I’m not doing it,” she spat. “This coat was expensive.”
I burst out laughing because that was the worst thing I could do and of course, laughter is infectious. She shot Simon the builder, the one that got away, a killer look and he dropped his chisel.
“If you want to sit here, love, you’re playing. Now get your coat off.”
Reluctantly she took it off and passed it to Simon the builder and not Tom the Barber. This was a colossal mistake. See, we’d been playing this for at least an hour by this point and Simon was already half cut from his starters at Wetherspoons. What she didn’t know, was that Simon had already spilt and smashed three expensive pints on the floor every time he swapped his coat because he’s a big brute of a joiner.
“I’ve bought three sodding pints and not had a sip of one yet!” he wailed. The fourth splashed all over me and John the coach’s coat when Simon tried ever-so-carefully not to ruin the jacket from Marks and further ruin this girls life which he was already allegedly, partly responsible for. Naturally, the rest of us found it hysterical. Except for the barkeep that had to come and keep sweeping up Simons smashed pint pots. The fun continued and even the bad tempered ice queen started to enjoy herself. I eventually got my own coat back and someone else scarf and decided to sneak off home. It was a school night you see and I never say goodbye to people in the pub or they just find ways to make you stay. My friend and I slipped out and into a cab.
A couple of days later, I had to go up to this part of town to go to the post office where I happened to see Andy the framer outside of his shop.
“You got time for a coffee?” he asked. “Got something to tell you.”
We went into the cafe where we sat with frothy cappuccino’s and a piece of carrot cake.
“Go on then….” I pushed.
“We’re barred from coat swapping ever again by order of the pub.”
“Why? It was good fun!”
“Up until you left it was. After that Simon kept dropping more pints and that girl was getting ever so feisty with him.”
“Well that’s your fault for bringing her in!” I said.
“Yeah well it’s your fault for starting the coat swapping game!”
“Touché. Carry on.”
“I left a while after you but saw Simon the builder and Pete the publican the day after. Apparently things got way out of hand and the M’n’S girl fell off the bar stool, cracked her head on the barrel and knocked herself out. The pub had to call an ambulance and since Simon was the only one with her they insisted he go to hospital. He wasn’t happy. He spent over £30 on ale that he never got a sup of cos he kept dropping them, five hours in a hospital waiting to see if this girl who he swears he doesn’t know is alright and then It cost him a further £20 to get back home in a taxi, to get one hours sleep before he had to go to work again.”
“Yeah but…was her Marks and Sparks coat alright? She was a bit uppity about that..”
Turns out she puked all over it.