People like being in pubs; they just don’t always like (or aren’t able) to pay for the privilege.
* * *
Standing at the bar in a local branch of a popular chain pub, we notice a barman huddling with a manager.
Muttering angrily, the junior member of staff points to a far corner, gesticulates and holds his hands up in despair. The manager closes his eyes for a moment, gathering his strength of will, and then marches across the floor.
He returns with a plastic carrier bag held between two fingers, his nose wrinkled. As he walks past us, shaking his head, he pauses to whisper conspiratorially, ‘They smuggled in a whole chicken from Tesco. Ate it with their fingers. Left the bones for us to clear up. What are they like?’
* * *
A few weeks later, in a trendy ‘craft beer bar’ in London, we notice a frisson in the air: the staff are suddenly tense and ‘meerkatting’ towards the far end of the room.
We follow their gaze. A large party of middle-aged people has colonised some sofas. Though the broad backs of the menfolk give them a degree of privacy, we can see from our vantage point that the women in the party are, at intervals, producing from their handbags cans of Guinness which they are using to refill all the glasses on the table.
Suddenly, the tension breaks as the bar staff swoop en masse.
It’s hard to see exactly what happens: there is some shouting; a barman walks back towards the bar carrying pint glasses; the sofas are empty; and a fire exit door is swinging on its hinges.
What are they like?