Get Your Laughing Tackle Around this
The first few days at the new job went off without incident, giving us an opportunity to settle in. On Saturday, there was a huge concert at which Nelson Mandela spoke of his time in jail and his hopes for a new apartheid-free South Africa. We could hear the speeches and the music, but the event passed by without us being able to watch it. But there were many opportunities to see some other amazing events and concerts. It was difficult to take time away from running the bars, restaurants, and function suites, but I was lucky to have good staff who were more than capable of keeping the place going in my absence.
I took my 10-year-old stepdaughter, Lynzey, to see Rod Stewart. He had caused a lot of excitement the morning before when he came into the bar and ordered himself a beer. He then turned to the couple who were sitting at the bar and casually said, “Good morning”. Halfway through his concert, Lynsey pulled at my arm. “I’m bored! Can we go now?!” I decided that she might not want to go and see Bruce Springsteen in a couple of weeks.
“Would you like to come with me to see The Rolling Stones?” I asked.
“Err! No!” she said, looking extremely disgusted.
I only watched one football match in the years I was there, and that was England playing Scotland. I watched Liverpool many times when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. I had always enjoyed the spectacle of the occasion and didn’t really care who won, though Liverpool usually did. This was one of those occasions multiplied by ten. I spent my time watching the crowd as much as the action on the pitch. I watched a skirmish between rival fans as the police waded in and stopped the fight, both sides screaming at the players. The final score that day was 2-0, England.
I was always listening for changes in the noise coming from the bars even when I wasn’t in them. If I was in the office on a busy night, I would be aware of the slightest change in tone or volume. The staff knew, with or without a signal from me, how to react and what to do should a violent situation arise.
There was a wedding in one of the function rooms one night. I was talking to one of the guests who expressed a preference for a beer that we did not stock, when I became aware of a sudden increase in the volume of noise from the main bar. I walked in as Terry and the other staff were quickly removing glasses, bottles, and ashtrays. If there is trouble, getting rid of as many missiles as possible is advisable. I walked toward a group of guys who were laughing loudly, while those around them were quietly picking up their drinks and slowly moving away. As I got closer, Terry was coming from behind the bar. I could see that there was someone on the floor. A guy holding his beer in the air turned to me and said, “Nothing to do with me, guv”. The guy on the floor was slowly getting up while trying to stop the flow of blood from a cut on his hand. “I’m sorry, I broke a glass when I fell.” “Get him another beer,” I said to Terry, and a snigger came from the four goons now propping up the bar.
“When you’ve finished those drinks, get out,” I said to the four at the bar. They left, slamming down their glasses, pushing through the doors, and hurling a last expletive in my direction.
At lunchtime the next day, standing at the bar was DCI Wyebrow with another policeman. “Hi, how are things going?” he asked. “Fine,” I said. “We had a bit of fun last night, but I kicked them out.”
“This is John. He’s the local beat officer,” he said, introducing his companion. “We know about the incident last night. We picked up the four soon after they left here.” “Do you want a drink?” I asked. To my surprise, they both said yes.
To be continued…