Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 7 September 2014
"How cool is that?" (The President of the United States of America)
I began this week with such good intentions, and I began this month with good intentions as well. I had intended to go for an Autumn mushroom hunt, but H.I. is still fast asleep and it has gone midday; and I had intended to book a trip to Venice, but this has not yet been done either.
But still, I feel as though I have really achieved something this weekend. I think I have effected an introduction between some people which - in a small way - could be a life-changing one, but not in the way police describe certain accidents as 'life-changing', which is usually a euphemism for the loss of one or more limbs. More about that later, and - if all goes well - not just from me, either.
I have been spending quite a bit of time with the new General Manager of our community-owned pub, because he has just arrived from running a similar establishment in Oxford, and has landed in the deep-end of the job, knowing no people at all, let alone their mini-histories - knowledge which is essential for efficient decision-making in a tight little community, especially when there is alcohol on offer.
Someone must have pointed me out to him as a Village Elder, because he sees me sitting at one end of the bar and comes over to plonk himself beside me as if I were an older boy at a dormitory school - which I suppose I effectively am - and the ice is being broken quite nicely.
He knows that his appointment was somewhat contentious, because a handful of regular bar-staff had applied for the position, but he won the post for his previous experience. All of the staff are treating him with great respect and kindness though as he learns the ropes, and he is quite correctly asking all of them for their help without overly imposing his authority on them from the start. That's not only a wise thing to do - it is essential.
I am almost proud to say that the only person to mention his ginger hair and strong Birmingham accent was me, so his initiation has not been further complicated by the only two virtues which British people (of a certain age) think it is acceptable to display stereotypical prejudices towards. He has enough on his plate already.
When I was younger, I worked in some pubs. The first job I ever had was as barmen at a pub close to where I was brought up. I was fourteen at the time, but being very tall I could get away with pretending to be 18.
When I first arrived in Bath, I had a job as a barman at the most notorious pub in the area, but after a year or so of watching people become more and more stupid and unpleasant as the evenings wore on, I decided that I could stand it no longer and left.
It was then I joined the ranks on the other side of the bar, and as the evenings wore on, I cared less and less about what my former colleagues thought about me.
These days I am home before 'The Archers' begins, so it is only H.I. who has to suffer the stupidity and unpleasantness. The new Manager then has to find a late-night advisor to take my place, but he has plenty to choose from.
President Obama visited Stonehenge this week. How incongruous is that?