If there is a God, then he is testing me! Or maybe it’s the Devil. Most of my lot are on a one way ticket to his fiery parlour, so perhaps they’re trying to drag me along for the ride. Either way, God or the Devil, whichever, they’re both fuckers!
This evening started off with me feeling really good about the night ahead. I had managed to get a couple of hours shut eye before I started, though it was a struggle since I had to constantly ignore Clint banging on my door, demanding that I should be downstairs helping everyone. I generally hold my younger brother in higher esteem compared to the rest of the family but he has been a right pain in the arse today. He should have known not to disturb me on account of how much I had to do tonight!
When I got up I made sure I looked my best. I wore a really slick black shirt, grey pants and a silver tie with a tribal symbol of power on it. I put aside my contact lenses in favour of my glasses and I also gelled down my trendy cropped spiky hair into a flat side parting. I wanted to replace my youthful good looks with a mature image that projected serious management. I want people to look at me and know instantly that I am the main man in charge.
Already I am proving myself as a managerial maestro as my delegation of jobs to Dad, Mom, Clint, Curly and Marie proved fantastically successful in turning my pub from a dirty, unkempt mess into a smart looking establishment ready to wine and dine the most elite members of society that the English Riviera has to offer.
All the staff was accounted for and ready at their stations:
One chef in the kitchen and Clint and Curly ready to take orders. (Dad totally ignored my better judgment and went for cheese burgers, chips, hot dogs, pizzas, the typical common shit that usually gets spat on and arse wiped in takeaways around the country)
One DJ playing carefully selected vintage records, as vetted by moi
Three doormen at the entrance
Four bar staff ready to pour drinks (Bertha, Father Quinn, Dad and Miller)
And myself poised ready to steer the Royal Ship public house to Treasure Island.
I left it to Dad to open the doors because I had one last important task to complete before I could let the people see their Saviour. Mother. I went upstairs and sat down with Mom in her bedroom and reminded her of a few things.
1. We weren’t in Birmingham anymore.
2. Nobody knows who you are. You do not need to uphold the O’Shea reputation. You’re just a nice ol’ Irish woman.
3. You don’t have to look like you’re going to put someone in hospital. Smile, be happy.
4. If someone looks at you, it doesn’t mean they’re asking for it.
5. If someone bumps into you, it doesn’t mean they’re asking for it.
6. If someone swears in your presence, it doesn’t mean they’re asking for it.
7. Do not threaten anyone you feel are being disrespectful. Come to me first. If someone is acting unpleasantly, I will address them. If that fails to fix the problem, then I will alert the door staff who will calmly get the troublesome individual to vacate the premise in a reasonable manner.
8. This is a new start for the whole family. THIS is the family business now. It is a nice business. We like people. We want people to like us. Fear is not the way. BE NICE.
Mom actually surprised me with her tranquil answer. In her wispy small voice she said she had no intention of causing any trouble. She was just as eager to carve out a new peaceful life for the family. She did however assure me that a Rottweiler can never entirely lose its bite, but as long as no one antagonizes her, or her family, in an obviously threatening manner, then she would be happy to allow the door staff to do their job. This, the pub, is her retirement. With that she said she was knackered from all of the tidying she had done today and she was going to stay in her room and watch television. She wished me luck and kissed me on the forehead. At first I felt a bit pissed off that she weren’t going to come down to witness my triumphant opening night but then it dawned on me that she had meant every word about turning over a new leaf but knew that it wouldn’t be easy for her, so she’d decided to stay out of the way. Bless’er, she can be good when she wants to be.
With Mom sorted it was time to make my grand entrance. I slowly made my way down the spiral stairs, trying to keep the big grin off of my face. I wanted to look cool, not gimpy. I stood in front of the side door that would take me into the main bar. I could hear a lot of noise from the other side of it. Naturally; I expected it would be packed by then. I took a deep breath. I was really excited and that bloody grin just wouldn’t go away. Oh fuck it, I was happy. I straightened my tie, ran my fingers through my hair and opened the door. It was manic!
There were loads of excitable voices bouncing around the bar; however it was a shame that it was all coming from our lot and nobody else. From first glance it appeared that there were no customers at all inside of the pub. As I had stepped into the room I was almost knocked over by a trolley. My DJ was being wheeled out of the pub and into the back of an ambulance. His hair was all singed and smoking and his skin was covered in dark patches of painful looking scorched skin, bubbling from his arms and face.
“I’m gunna facking sue ya all, ye BASTARDS!!!” he screamed in pitched agony as he went by. It was obvious that his one finger salute and vicious anger was specifically aimed squarely at Miller, who wasn’t paying him any attention.
I ran over to Curly and asked him what the hell had happened. He said that Miller was making everyone a round of flaming Sambuca’s and just as the DJ was about to douse his flame, Miller had gotten all excited about something and threw his arms up into the air. Next thing you know, the flaming drink has gone all over the DJ and his arm was all on fire.
“I tried to put it out” Miller shouted over to me. It was then that I noticed that we did have some customers, two old men with whom Miller was deep in conversation with at the other end of the bar.
“You threw YOUR glass of Sambuca over him and his HEAD CAUGHT ON FIRE!!!” Curly shouted back to him.
Again without looking at either of us Miller argued that he instinctively threw the first liquid he could get his hands on. I was fucking livid! Had anyone paid for these drinks? No, it appeared not. We’re not likely to be making any money if we are giving drinks away. ARGH! I would have set Miller on fire but he was talking to my only customers and I wanted to present a dignified front. I was dreading what my brother could be saying to them so I quickly made my way over to introduce myself.
“All I’m saying” I heard Miller saying to the two old men as I approached the trio, “is that the best way to deal with the paedophile problem is to wean the fuckers off kids by introducing them to midgets”
Oh shit, I knew I should have just given Miller a few quid and told him to fuck off for the night.
I was just about to barge Miller out of the way when he caught sight of Clint and ran off after him. It wasn’t appropriate behaviour but I was just glad that he had fecked off. I then introduced myself to the two old fella’s and they introduced themselves as Bertie and Antony. They were proper Devonshire boys and I just about understood what they were banging on about. It appears that they were best friends and had known each other for as long as they could remember. They had grown up together, even gone to war in France together and had drunk in this pub, The Royal Ship, together for over 60 years. A right gay pair I thought.
I asked the two coffin dodgers if they knew why the pub was so quiet. At this point my Dad had come in from talking to the bouncers outside and had joined in with our conversation. Bertie said that the locals were boycotting the pub to make the brewery suffer. He said that everyone loved the previous landlord and objected to the way that he had been forced out by the brewery which had penalized him too heavily for buying in drinks that weren’t theirs. Because of the fines he had to sell up as he couldn’t afford to keep the business going.
At this point my Dad’s gummy happy face crumbled. He thought that the pub was quiet because people must have mistakenly thought that it wasn’t open tonight.
Antony, old shit-ya-pants number two, obviously took no heed of my father’s crest fallen mug because he carried on exactly where Bertie left off. He laughed that the boycott wouldn’t make much difference anyway. He said that in the 60’s and 70’s, loads of hotels were converted to pubs because Torquay was swamped by grockles (tourists), you couldn’t move. However, over the last 20 years the number of people visiting the Bay had dropped drastically because everyone goes abroad nowadays. So down our street alone we have over ten pubs fighting for the scraps of holiday makers who do manage to make their way to the South West.
Stuttering, with blind panic in his eyes, my father pulled himself up from his stool and argued that this couldn’t possibly be right. He said how he had been to visit the pub on numerous, separate occasions, over the last few months and it was always rammed packed. Bertie bet my father that it was always on a weekend, around 10 o’clock at night, when he visited.
“It was the only time Harold (the previous landlord) could see me” he answered.
Of course it was, Antony laughed. It appears that every Saturday and Sunday, for about one hour, the pub does indeed become busy with the bar crawl crowd. They come in for karaoke (which Bertie and Antony love by the way), drink their one round and then piss off to the next pub along.
I could see that this news caused my whitened-face father to collapse back down on his stool. His breath had become raspy and short and I thought he was about to keel over. He was muttering something about money, but to himself rather than anyone else who could hear. I tried to cheer him up by explaining that I’ll get this place thriving but for some reason it didn’t seem to make him look any better (he mustn’t have heard me), but the two old farts just laughed again. Apparently the pub has had over 10 new landlords in the past 10 years. The pair had seen it all apparently, all different ideas tried but I assured them they’ve not yet seen me. They then started to declare their undying loyalty, that they weren’t bothered what everyone else was up to because we could always count on their custom. To be honest I didn’t catch much else what they said because Miller had reappeared, on the wrong side of the bar, acting suspiciously. I was just about to ask what he was doing when Bertha said that the beer wasn’t coming through. It appeared that neither her, nor Father Quinn, knew how to change a barrel and my Dad, who looked like he had been bashed around the head with an iron bar, was not responding to anyone. In the end I decided to just sort it myself. With everyone else making a complete tit up of everything, the only person I could trust to get the job done right was me.
After giving myself a sticky beer shower, when trying to change an obviously faulty barrel, I came back upstairs to the sounds of mayhem. Maybe the bar crawl crowd that Bertie mentioned was in. Nope!
“I saw’t first!”
“Givvy’ere. I saw’t it on da bar first. Ye gurt big robbin bastard!”
“Well I ad it first, so tuff shit Bertie”
Bertie and Antony were rolling around on the floor. Antony was holding something tight to his chest and Bertie was beating down on him with his hands clasped together in a tight club. No matter how hard Bert pummeled Antony’s face, crunching and cracking the old fellas nose with every blow, Antony refused to let go of whatever he was desperately holding onto.
To my right I could hear heavy laughter. Miller was sat in a corner seat with Clint, laughing his head off at the fighting old pair.
I was momentarily stunned but I quickly came to my senses and knew what to do. I shouted to Curly to fucking do something quick. So he ran over to separate the battling ol’twosome but was greeting with a bloody smack to the hooter and a swift kick to the knackers. Obviously Bert still remembered his war training. Bert was now towering over Antony, who was still rolling around on the floor, trying to dodge his friends stamping feet.
“Ye ol’cunt, I’m gunna tear ye a nuw shit bag!” Bertie shouted down at Antony, whose face was now a red mushy mess.
“Fuck ya, yer ol’Jerry cock cuddler” Ant barked back and he launched himself up onto Bertie and sunk his false gnashers right into his droopy old balls. I swear I heard a pop sound. As Bertie doubled over and collapsed onto the floor, Antony continued his fearsome comeback. He lifted his heavy glass handled beer mug off of the bar and struck it down with all his force onto Berties crown. Hundreds of shards of glass splintered and embedded themselves gruesomely into his skull. Just as Antony was about to strike a second devastating blow, Bertie came roaring back to life and sprung at his adversary, knocking him onto his back. Bertie quickly grabbed hold of Antony’s arm and placed it over the top of two over turned stools and stamped his foot down upon it with all of his power, snapping it, with a loud horrible crack, like a twig. As Ant rolled around the floor, cradling his floppy wrinkly limb, Bert crouched down and picked up what Antony had finally dropped. A scratch card.
“Tis mine, oh precious, tis mine” Bertie cried happily, as he jigged about, covered in blood, holding the card aloft in his hand.
Then, unbeknown to Bert, Ant silently rose up behind him and launched over his shoulder, grabbing hold of Berts hand, which was proudly and victoriously clutching the scratch card, and with one almighty snap of his awesome choppers, he chomped down on Berts fingers, separating them from the knuckles.
“Geezus, grab him! He’s covering the wall in blood” I shouted to Curly but it was futile asking him to do anything as he was still lounging about on the floor in an idiotic daze, cupping his balls. What a fookin loser, getting beaten up by two geriatrics, typical Curly. The rest were just as hopeless. Clint had ran off for some reason, Miller was still in his corner in fecking hysterics and Dad hadn’t moved, he was slouched on his stool rocking back and forth in muttering shock, reeling from Bert and Ants earlier revelations, oblivious to the carnage besides him. Do I have to do everything? Did the generals go over the top? No, but this fucker has to. So I ran and got the bouncers. Had the three not been half pissed, they might have noticed the trouble themselves. I was hoping the hefty trio would be able to bring some calm to the storm but instead they darted into the bar like Spanish bulls and between them they lifted the warring pair into the air. The two old bastards were still going so the bouncers showed them the door, head first. I watched as the two airborne war veterans landed hard on the tarmac floor outside. I worried for a second they might have been hurt but the pair soon got up and disappeared off down the street, still kicking the living shit outta each other.
“Right, they’re barred. For a month!” I told all of the staff.
After that the only people in the pub all night were the staff and they were basically being paid to get pissed. Earlier in the evening, before his funny turn, Dad had told the staff that they could help themselves to one or two drinks. This was a typical ‘buy your friends’ technique that Dad usually employs and the end result sees him getting walked all over. I, however, am not in the business of making friends. Sure enough Dads invitation had seen the beer flowing freely and the three meat heads on the front door were getting jollier and merrier. Had any potential customers walking by even thought about entering the pub, the site of this ugly rabble on our doorstep would of surly put them off. The only time they didn’t look so happy was when I quite politely told them that they had drunk enough free beer.
“The gaffer said the beers free mate” One of my henchmen barked back at me.
“The ‘gaffer’ said no such thing. The small rat face man, who just happens to be my father, told you that. I am the person in charge.”
“Where’s ye Dad gun to?”
“He has retired to bed.”
“Who owns t’pub then?”
“Well, my father does.”
“So ee’s the gaffer!”
“Er no. I am in charge.”
I stood my ground, looking up at the three burly, towering gorillas, making sure not to break eye contact with the one in the middle, who looked like the leader of the pack. These people are like dogs, I know the kind, you have to show them whose boss. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. First impressions count. We were all locked in an uncomfortable stance for what felt like hours, and I would have stayed there all night but at that moment I saw Clint and thought it was best to find out what had happened, so I decided to let’em off for now and deal with them later. I’m sure however, that they know I won’t take any shit, and I don’t expect that I’ll have to tell them again. If I do, they will have my fury to contend with.
I caught up with a sheepish Clint who was helping Curly sit down next to Miller, who was still in his corner, wiping the tears of laughter from his drunken red eyes.
“What the hell just happened?” I asked the three Stooges
Clint told the story. It turned out that the whole series of events had started earlier with the DJ incident. Clint had foolishly decided to play a trick on Miller. He had a bunch of fake scratch cards. They looked completely authentic. They appeared no different to the official cards that you could buy from a shop. The only difference however was that when you scratched them off they revealed that you had won £250,000.00. You only found out that they were fake when you looked at the small print on the back that told you how to claim your prize. ‘Place this card under the Christmas tree in December, and when Santa arrives, suck him off to receive your reward’. Miller had thrown his arms up into the air when he thought he had won, hence knocking the DJ who then spilt his flaming Sambuca all over himself. Miller had then quickly noticed the joke when he read how to get his money. He had then chased after Clint and after a few digs to his nugget, confiscated the remaining fake tickets that Clint still had. When I had earlier noticed Miller acting suspiciously, it’s turns out that the feckin knob’ed had placed one of the joke tickets on the bar, and sat himself in the corner to watch what would happened when one of the old bastards picked up the ticket. What a prick. Was he sorry? Of course not, though I didn’t get time to point out why he was such an utter twat because a group of raised, cheery voices were shouting out for me.
“Oi Boss, BOSS, cum ova’ere”
I was being summoned back to the three amigos at the door, who now had with them our tiny, crazy chef who was performing a dance of kung fu moves, doing his best to impersonate Bruce Lee, with sound effects.
“Show us what ye wudda dun with them two fackin ol’farts if you’d gotten hold of’em first” The big fat bouncer in the middle, with the strange little piggy face, said to my theatrical chef.
One minute I was stood in the middle of this happy group, the next I was on my back, staring up at the yellow ceiling with my eyes popping outta me head and the breath squeezed out of me. This tiny little bastard had flipped me over and had me in a choke hold. I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t take a joke but I didn’t want to look like someone who could be tackled so easily. I tried to reassert myself but only succeeded in looking like a fish out of water, flapping wildly. I ended up lying on the floor motionless, trying to ponder my next move. It was hard to think with all of the laughter going on, the loudest howls of approval coming from Miller who seemed to be having the time of his life.
I tried to do a crocodile roll, to break the midgets grip but this just resulted in him twisting my arm up my back and over my head. Eventually he let me go and though I really wanted to plant a killer right hook on the bastard’s chinless jaw, I thought I’d better let it go. 1, He was just a little man, 2, I didn’t want to look like a poor sport and 3, it isn’t good management to go around beating up your staff. Everyone was just having a laugh I suppose and I’m sure this was just some kind of retarded initiation. They all thought it was funny and I didn’t want to be sour grapes.
All fun and games tonight but from tomorrow, no more Mr Nice Guy. I’m not gonna be a King John figure. My rule will be absolute and brutally strict. The nicely nicely touch, which is my Dad’s favoured technique, is all wrong. People need tough rules and tougher leaders. We’ve got it all wrong today as a society. The flower power ideals have us brain washed. We think that we, people, humans, are basically good. We’re not. The only reason we’re not killing each other for scraps of food and other desirables is because law threaten to incarcerate us, or worse, if we break the rules. However, nowadays the threat of law is getting further and further away and so society breaks down, people are playing up. Well not on my watch, NOT IN MY PUB.
Later, when the pub had finally closed and I’d waved off the last of the staff, I stood outside and looked out to the swooshing sea. Even in the dark it was astonishingly beautiful. The moon cast an exquisite milky white light over the breaking gentle waves. It was so calming, and it allowed me to gather my thoughts on my first day as captain of the Titanic. Success wasn’t going to be as easy as I initially thought, but that is fine. Success that comes via hard work is all the sweeter.
I stood alone and embraced the tender night breeze and took deep breaths of the new clean air. My ears had been enjoying the soft rolls of the waves on the beach below but they were interrupted by the sound of big ugly sirens as the second ambulance I had seen tonight whizzed past me. As I looked down the road, towards the direction that it had come from, I noticed a large buzz of activity. There were police cars, more ambulances and the fire brigade. A young couple were walking past the front of my pub and I called out to them, asking what was happening. They told me that two old men had been killed. One had pushed the other over, who fell into the road. SPLAT. Hit by a drunk driver. The other old git must have shit himself and jumped off of the Downs (the cliffs) across the street. The couple wandered off, heckling the stupid old drunks. Fucking hell. First night and we’ve already lost our best customers. Fucking Miller.
I was just about to go back inside, when another person passed the front of my pub.
“Is that your place mate?” A police officer asked.
Yes, I answered, with a stir of pride.
“Well what the’ell is that?”
Just then I heard the long spluttering of wind breaking. I spun around and saw my bedroom window open and someone’s arse sticking out of it. Thankfully not bare.
I apologized to the officer and said it was just some stag party guests that we had in residence and I would deal with them immediately. He seemed fine with that and plodded off but groups of drinkers who were coming out of our neighboring pubs had begun to take notice.
“What the hell are ya doing?” I shouted in a hushed voice
With his ass still sticking out of the window, Clint’s voice answered
“It’s the beer. Fuck knows what’s wrong with it but it’s giving me evils”
“Get ya fecking arse back inside ya muppet”
“Oh no he isn’t” Miller’s voiced called out from inside the same room. “He can keep it out there until he’s emptied it. He fuckin stinks. I’m not having that smell in here. It gets into the fucking wall paper. I’m trying to get ready here. We’re going into town on t’pull and I don’t want my snappy slacks smelling of shit!”
“Well go the bathroom then”
“It’s all the way downstairs!” Clint shouted
“I don’t care!”
We might have argued longer but the group of drunks, who had now gathered to watch, began to start throwing stones, betting each other who could hit the target first. Clint soon shifted his arse when they smashed one of the glass panels next to him.
What a fucking day.
The greater the man, the greater the test…That says it all.