Many years ago I was working as a barmaid in a London pub. It wasn’t exactly party central as the average age of the clientelle was probably about 70 and my manager used to call the place the last bastion of the coffin dodgers. At least the place didn’t get too rowdy even at the weekends and my biggest issue was the constant agony of having to listen to a load of old blokes moaning about their aches and pains whilst drinking a lot of alcohol and doubtless making them much worse. My favourite customers were a pair of gentlemen who sat at the bar night after night baiting each other, usually about football.
No Country for Old Men
Paddy and Chrissie could have won Olympic medals for moaning. They always sat together but spent the entire time winging about the state of the nation, the plight of the retired and mostly each other. I couldn’t understand why they were friends when they couldn’t agree on a single thing. The biggest arguments were about football and Chrissie would spend hours explaining the finer details of the game to Paddy who invariably argued every point. When Paddy wasn’t there Chrissie would spend hours explaining to me that poor old Paddy had no idea what he was talking about and clearly had no understanding of the game which he felt was no surprise as Paddy had probably never been to a football match in his life. I was bored silly but a veritable expert on the merits of QPR!
An Old Guitar
When Chrissie wasn’t there Paddy would tell me how deluded he was, that he had lost his marbles and that I should not listen to him. Like I had any choice! One particular evening Chrissie started telling me that he was feeling unwell, which was nothing unusual. He said that he was annoyed because he had some things in the house which had belonged to his late son that he wanted to get rid of but he didn’t have the energy to get on with it. I asked what things he had to dispose of and he said there were some clothes and an old guitar. I commented that the guitar might be worth something and he said he didn’t think so because it was just a cast off given to his son by a musician he had played with on tour. I said that the musician might have been famous and Chrissie said he wasn’t and it was some bloke he had never heard of called Jimi Hendrix. For the first time in my life I actually spat my drink out!
The next day I found out that Chrissie had died in the night and when Paddy showed up I had to give him the bad news. I also explained that he had been about to throw away one of Jimi Hendrix’ guitars. Paddy just laughed and said that the potential value of the guitar was just one of many things that Chrissie has been completely oblivious to. He then asked me if I thought that during any of their arguments about football he should have told Chrissie that he had been a professional footballer at Tottenham Hotspur and that some of the games Chrissie had been lecturing him about he had actually been playing in. This was the second occasion on which I spat my drink out. The third was when a few minutes later a poser that drank in the pub and never stopped blathering on about darts walked up to Paddy to commiserate about Chrissie and said
“Hi! I’m Bobby George”. Oops!
Article by Sally Stacey