Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Bad characters

Recent pub visits have reacquainted me with two of my bêtes noires of irritating behaviour in pubs. First is the “bar prowler”, a regular who fancies himself as a bit of a character, and who isn’t content just to stand by the bar, but instead walks a regular beat between the counter and some other feature, often the fireplace. Even though probably a sad and lonely individual, he clearly sees himself as the “cock of the walk”. Certainly a cock.

It’s even worse when he starts engaging people in what he no doubt imagines is genial banter. At times, this can verge on the deranged, such as the old boy who told me on walking into a pub that I looked like Elton John. For a second, it seemed amusing, until it clicked that he was actually a total fruitloop. Frankly, customers don’t want these tedious so-called characters prying and disturbing them.

Then there is the “space eater” who sits in the gap between two tables and thus deters anyone from using either of them. Obviously, if the pub is very busy, people will muscle in, but if it’s quietish they’ll tend to sit elsewhere for fear of appearing rude. The best I’ve ever seen was in a Peak District pub where one “character” plonked himself down in the gap on the bar side of a large two-table alcove that could probably have accommodated sixteen people. Sitting at one table but putting your drink on the other is a favourite technique.


  1. 'Space Eaters' could be used to excellent effect if they were left eating space in the general vicinity of the 'Bar Prowlers'.

    All 'betes noires' hell would break loose, ideally with no survivors.

    We need to find a way of getting them to coincide.

    That's all.

  2. It's no sacereefice, it's just a simple pub.

    It's two loons bothering a chap called Mudge.

    OOO It's no sacereefice, it's just a pint of pong

    It's two loons whose behaviour is all wrong.

  3. I have come across scrounging hippies once or twice who'd happily chat about music for an hour or two, and then when they thought I saw them as a kindred spirit, expect me to put them up.

    Sorry: being into Hendrix or Janis Joplin doesn't get you a bed for the night.

  4. People who sit at the bar, hogging all the space and stopping others from getting served.

  5. Yes, Paul, completely right.

  6. Re people hogging the bar, see this posting "Swatting Flies".

  7. “It’s always the same congregation of characters, no matter where you go. A clown, a moron, a megalomaniac, a teacher who wants to be a writer, a lowlife cabbage that wants to be a musician, a sociopath wisecrack, a greasy scumbag with long curly hair trying to chat up each and every woman that passes his arse, a raving alcoholic who claims that his hands were once steady enough to score ten triple twenties without faltering, a religious nutter who, for all his strong beliefs, will not turn your soda into wine, an old bag with hairy legs and fetid teeth who is never going to snap out of her family-bullshit loop, an obnoxious businessman out of place, not to mention two barmen from the shop across the road who either drink themselves out of their misery within thirty seconds or else are forever giving free advice on how to run a pub, disregarding the fact that most of their customers are now getting served by the staff around them, a Bud Spencer look-alike lumberjack who is every girlie’s darling but bent as a two-pound note, a suicidal cigar smoker who might not live to enjoy another drag from his stinking root, a loudmouthed potbellied ruffian studying an atlas on African grass leaves, wearing gaudy socks that say ‘mine is a pint’, the local tart on her wonted seat who knows all of them by size, smell and taste, and the silent observing schoolboy who is desperately trying to render himself interesting by keeping a very low profile, ignored by all the men, scoffed at by all the women, a wry smile on his pimpled face.”
    From: Live and die the Irish way (eBook short story collection by fellow author Robert Hrdina)


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