I Work There

6 April 2011

“The Courtfield”, Earl’s Court, London

I take a step out of the tube station and I hear the shouts of at least one hundred men.

Then that shouting, I realise, is actually chanting.

Ah! I forgot it was the Chelsea vs. Manchester Utd. football game today. Hearing what I hear takes me back to my 1st day in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; the way I feel the tribal cries of drunk, frenzied men.

The 1st sight was the distinctive yellow vest of the police, then police on horse-back, then around one hundred and fifty men standing on a corner, covering the exterior of the pub.

“I’m working in that building there”, I think to myself, doubtfully.

There were more of ‘them’ inside, stamping so vigorously I could feel the pounding in the cellar that I muscled my way to. Three hours pass and I finish the frantic collecting and serving of pints in plastic cups. Moving between beer tap to beer tap, I charge heinous prices for poorly served product, hovering around Ł4 for a pint of draught beer in very poor, low density plastic.

They leave for the game after the police force us to close the pub, being the busiest venue the road by far, and never come back for the rest of the night. I hear the manager talk of the total cash made since open time: something like Ł12500.

12:30am comes around and I leave without having the ritual end-of-shift beer with the work mates; energy that would have been used for the journey home has been wasted on shouting to the football fans to confirm their orders.

Back to the floor where I sleep at 2:30am, and I see no way around using an eye mask to ensure I get enough sleep before I start work again at 5pm the next day. Silly, yes, but getting used to it.