Neither Mirth nor Woe: The Old Devil
Here's another from my ongoing project to excerpt the best bits of my bloated catalogue and republish them as short, sharp something-else-beginning-with-s stories. In fact, it's two stories, hacked into pieces and nailed back together again with painful DEATH and exactly 135% more LOLZ and a free dose of LUL.
"What'll it be-aaaaaargh!"
My regular used to be The Old Devil near Maidenhead. Alas, it is now an upmarket gastro-pub, where the only attractions are an interesting help-yourself bookshelf and a manageress with a cracking pair of norks.
But back in the day it was a den of drunken debauchery, where a round would be six pints of strong, strong bitter, half a dozen servings of cardiac-inducing gateau and a Top Shelf.
The Top Shelf – for those of you not in the know – is a measure from every optic on the bar's top shelf in a pint class. A pint glass takes 18 of these measures, and, if you can stand the taste of crème du menthe, it is a quick route to extreme drunkenness, projectile vomiting and DEATH.
As anybody who works in a pub knows, the done thing when somebody says "And have one yourself" to the barman is to add a quid to the bill and sip something non-alcoholic throughout the evening. Not so Paul, our drunken Mein Host, who, on offered "And have one yourself" would down a shot of the hard stuff on the spot.
And every evening, around ten o'clock, he would reach that point where he forgot where the stairs down to the cellar started.
A punter would come up to the bar, and Paul would stride over to serve them, before falling into the deathly grip of Newton's Law of Gravitational Attraction.
"Yes cock, what'll it be-aaaaaaaaargh!" THUD-THUD-THUD-CRUMP, followed by the sound of landlord skittling into the CO2 tanks that powered the fizzy drinks.
There would invariably be a short, tense pause, before Paul would emerge, blood, spit and vomit down his shirt, his arm hanging at a funny angle and not entirely sure of the day of the week.
"So, that's three pints of Oak, a Fosters and a packet of crisps then?"
"Yeah, an' have one yourself."