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This is a question Clubs, gangs, and societies

Munsta asks: What groups or clubs have you been a part of? Are you part of a secret underground movement with aims to bring down the government, are you part of a yiffing cult, or do you get together with friends in an evening for a drunken game of soggy biscuit?

(, Thu 21 Jun 2012, 13:44)
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When I was old enough to serve booze, I gave up my Friday Night/Saturday Morning shift working at the petrol station
...to go and work a Saturday afternoon bartending shift at the rugby club in Stourbridge.

Stourbridge had a respectable national league standing (and have done ever since) so it was't just Stourbridge vs. Dudley but nationwide teams. On any given Saturday during the league the main team might be home or away, but due to rotation between the main team, the 2nd team and the 'Colts' (youngsters), there would normally be 6 teams (home and visitors) in play. Plus all the spectators.

So, a shift would start at midday, opening up the bar and the teams that were playing would normally come up to the bar to drink a pint or two of squash (some form of Weak Lemon Drink), and the spectators would perhaps have a half of lager or a Winter Warmer, in the run up to kick off.

Then the games would kick off and it would be like a graveyard shift, nothing to do but stack seats, stack shelves, read a book (this was before mobile phones/gameboys). And then Half Time would come. So, suddenly every single spectator from all of the matches would come in wanting to grab a quick one and maybe a pack of crisps before the 2nd half- slightly hectic.

You'd have to grab two Britvics at once and pop the crowns off with one hand while typing into the till with the other while setting off two pints on the auto-delivery 1/2 pint clicker for lager, one for bitter, and the Murphys tap (which was NOT automatic and would overflow if you didn't keep your mind on it) while keeping a mental tally of the round you were furnishing- mental arithmetic par excellence. Example- in your head, work out the cost of 3 lagers, two Mickey Mouse (50/50 lager bitter), 2 Murphys, 3 bitters, a glass of wine and 3 lemonades... and I did it all the time! Fuck kids these days who only have to press coloured buttons on touch screens.... Back in those days there was ony one till in the bar and hopefully, 2 or more people serving on an old fashioned digital till. You couldn't tally up and lay away while another user entered their takings, you could not use your RFID coin to identify your transactions, you and YOU ONLY could enter cash exchanges into the till and if someone else was working alongside you, you had to keep your accounts in your head- as did they - because there was no computerised till back-office system that would separate your transactions from the other folks.

It was like a beautiful, frantic ballet, keeping all the plates spinning etc. but after 15 minutes people would drift back out to watch the game. Regain breath.

So, another period of quiet which let you wash glasses, clear tables, retrieve pots from the balcony overlooking the pitch,

Then the Full Time Whistle goes and all hell and chaos breaks loose at once.

All the spectators rush in at once to get served first. And because they know it's going to be packed at the bar, they all order two drinks per person each.

Suddenly it's pandemonium, it's 3-deep the entire length of the bar, you have to keep track of who was next in order and not just the ones waving £20 notes ALTHOUGH! This is not a normal pub or club, everyone vaguely knows each other, courtesy abounds, consideration is shown and people are patient.

Recognising this situation and the impracticality of having 70,000 glasses available on demand, there are plastic jugs available which mean you can get 7 pints to a table, let people decant themselves and all you have to do is put one on the drip tray and let that tap run? Err, unless it's lager or bitter which as we've already established, delivers half a metered pint and then stops. So some kind of logistical delivery plan is needed as you face about a hundred hopeful faces- place glasses on the bitter pump, click to start, 10 seconds for a delivery of 1/2 a pint, meanwhile whip jug on to drip tray for stout, set it going, dash to optic to get double gin, come back, click switch for next 1/2 pint on both pumps, keep eye on Stout jug, pop the cap on the tonic for the gin, get the ice, move the now-complete pint glasses off the lager pump drip tray, grab the slice of lemon for the G+T, calculate (IN YOUR HEAD!) 3 x £1.17 for the lagers/6 x 0.89 for the bitter jug, gin(0.80)+tonic(0.47), 2 x bitters (0.83 each), replace empty pint glasses on drip trays, both lager pumps being situated 5 feet apart mean you can trigger both at once if you stretch your arms to straining point, keep eye on half full jug on the pump, grab crisps in order of asking, open fruit juice with left hand/spear cherry with cocktail stick with right, drop it in the balloon glass, enter sum total of mental calculation into till, get money, give change, continue click-delivery of lager to complete those pints, jug almost full so bang tap up to let it settle, find tray, load up drinks, and Who's Next Please?

So, repeat for all the spectators at the bar, then 20 minutes after the match ends, all the team players come up from their post-match showers- 6 teams worth of 15 players each, and then THEY've worked up a real thirst, so each of them want 3 drinks each plus refills for friends and family so the whole process of frenetic serving starts again:- if you don't clear the spectators from earlier then you feel like you're denying the players who have earned a well-deserved pint their rightful throat quencher.

Now, by that time the rugger buggers are in celebratory mood, so many more drinks are ordered but at a sort-of manageable pace. The away teams may load up on to their coach and go back to their respective clubs, but by the same measure, your away teams will be coming back to shoot the shit with their colleagues and chat about their respective games, the games on TV, other stuff.

A feature of rugby is that the players and fans tend to be a bit more blue-blooded than their footie bretheren, due to schooling or lineage, I don't know, they all seem to be a pretty well off and affluent people, so of course social networking was rife but productive. Doctors and lawyers and property developers and car dealers would all cut little self-rewarding deals between themselves- and why not?

Meals were provided from the kitchen so the drinkers were able to keep on drinking, standard stodge (bacon egg sausage beans, basically a 2nd Full English on that Saturday) but slowly up to the 6:30pm period when the bar was closed, eventually the wives would drag their husbands back home to have a nap before their night drinking adventures.

Except there was always a hardened cadre of leftover boozehounds who would round up the afternoon with 'suicide pint'. Each guy would specify a drink that the others had to down in one. So:-

Player 1 asks for a round of drinks consisting of 1/2 a lager, Babycham, 1 measure cointreau, 1 whiskey. All get one, all down-in-one.
Player 2 asks for 1/2 a bitter, bottle of Cherry B, 1 measure gin, 1 blue curacao. All get one, all down-in-one
Player 3 asks for 1/2 a limeade with brandy, Benedictine, Tia Maria, Taboo and mint cordial. All get one, all down in one.

Player 4 is made of more perverse stuff.

Bottle of Guinness.
add 1 schooner Advocaat.
add 1 shot vodka.
add 1 Gold Label (barley wine)
add 1 bottle of tomato juice.

All get one. They look at the drink. The drink curdles playfully and looks them back square in the eye.

...tick tock tick tock tick tock......echo....

only one finishes. Two retch 1/2 way down. Mr 'finally comes to his senses' refuses. So he 'lost' :-)

It was a thoroughly enjoyable time, they were a great bunch (including a former school sports teacher of mine who was quite amusing but slightly surreal to see a formerly quiet, authoritative teacher singing bawdy songs while pissed).

There were other benefits- all of the people who attended, be it players or spectators, they were an extraordinarily generous bunch. At least one punter in 10 who was ordering a £50 round would add 'and one for yourself?'. As I had to drive to and from the club I'd have to demur and when they insisted I'd have to say- OK, thank you, can I have 50p in the tips jar?

This did happen but occasionally one would insist - no, I want to buy YOU a DRINK. So I'd say- sorry, I've got to drive and can't drink. Then one of them said- well, I'll get you a bottle, you can take it home with you and have it later.


Yes please.

During that season it happened so often that I was able to experiment with every alcoholic beverage on sale, starting at one end of the bar (Diamond white) through the middle (Newcastle Brown) to the elderly person's drinks (Snowball, Tat Cherry B stuff and Gold Label I mentioned earlier, Mackesons' Stout). I'd regularly finish a shift with a plastic bag full of bottles to take home because when a drunk well-off guy stands at the bar for 3 minutes insisting that they will buy you a drink, it's often easier to give in and than your lucky stars.

And then there was that New Years Eve event. Blimey. It was sit-down do but they wanted the bar open and I had to wear a bow tie. Shit, my first legal New Years Eve to get pissed (not that I hadn't done out on the lash the previous 2 years) but I was offered triple time.

Which was a lot in its own right but the tips were double that on top. Like I said, rugby club? Generous patrons.

Only one downside, dear reader.

If you've never worked a bar, you may not realise after a shift of pulling pints of beer, lager, bitter etc. the smell of it is on your hands, in your hair, up your nose, so while the benefit of working Saturday afternoon meant you were paid just in time for a Saturday Night out with your mates, you rarely went out thinking 'I really fancy a pint of beer now' as the thought of it might make you do a little vom. So that's why I spent many, many years drinking cider when out on the razz instead. But is this a bad thing? I can get 3 litres of strong cider from a supermarket for £2.78, the same amount of lager would be £5.

Apologies for length but- well, it all happened.
(, Fri 22 Jun 2012, 20:48, 11 replies)
so your story is 'i did bar work'?
so did i and even so your story was excruciatingly dull.
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 6:25, closed)
Are you really up at this stupid hour, Janet?
If so, what the fuck is the matter with you? If you're in Scotland or somewhere else overseas I might understand.
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 6:33, closed)
my insomnia is my own affair, thank you.

(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 6:45, closed)
No. My story is, bar work in a rugby club is not the same as bar work in a regular boozer.
It has unique facets which are both rewarding and punishing.
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 11:20, closed)
It gets busy?

(, Mon 25 Jun 2012, 9:52, closed)
that would be an oversimplification.
trickle then nothing then MASSIVE then trickle then ULTRAMASSIVE then HARD then JIZZZUSCHRIST then trickle then zero. That demand isn't like a regular boozer and yet it followed that pattern repeatably every week despite what the fook else was going on. It went on between 12 and 6:30 on a Saturday. It was a club. It's worth telling.
(, Tue 26 Jun 2012, 0:45, closed)
You are the antikythera.
I shan't claim my fiver, as I'll leave it in the tip jar.
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 6:34, closed)
Putting this in a separate reply so it can't be deleted
You know how a feral tom cat will prowl about, leaving smelly little puddles of piss on everything as a way of saying 'this is mine now'.

On a totally different note, notice how many things Janet replies to with a nasty little bitchy comment?
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 12:37, closed)
I quite like this story.
I can clearly picture the scene (fuck I hate that phrase thanks to b3ta) in my mind's eye. And yes, serving people and watching them get pissed puts you off the booze.
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 14:09, closed)
A schooner of Advocaat?
Surely a sailboatful is too much.
(, Sat 23 Jun 2012, 23:09, closed)
I like this.

(, Mon 25 Jun 2012, 15:15, closed)

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