Them and us

Two hours in to a busy shift at one of London’s currently trendy specialist beer bars, we see a barman heading into the gents. He’s wearing rubber gloves and carrying a mop because someone has pissed all over the wall and floor.

Fifteen minutes later, he picks up a broken glass from a shelf near us, only just avoiding cutting his hand. His face reddens. “Fucking pigs,” he says under his breath, and you know he means all of us — every one of the tipsy, slightly loud people crowding the bar that night.

Later, when we’re at the bar, he doesn’t seem to be in the mood to talk to us or anyone else. He is tight-lipped and frowning. In fact, he doesn’t seem to want to be there at all.

Of course it’s never the customer’s problem that the barman is having a bad day but, sometimes, especially in overstuffed London, we do understand where the scowls and aloofness come from.

Some bar staff and managers handle this by Tweeting their fury in real time which can be enlightening and dispiriting in equal measure.