Tales from Groovy Spoons
Odd Stories of Peculiar People in a Bizarre Bar
Hello. I'm here today to tell you a story. Not a fantasy epic, or a chilling thriller, but a simple story of how a nice northern man got way out of his depth in a completely abnormal club/pub.
That nice northern man is me. And that completely abnormal club/pub is Groovy Spoons.
It all started when I moved into a new town. I have had to travel down into the south of England to study at university, and the crazy student lifestyle of doing nothing and going nowhere became very expensive, so I had to get a job. I looked around the town and stumbled upon Groovy Spoons, they were hiring and within a week I had a trial shift. As of this writing, I have been there over 6 months, and the characters and situations are far too weird to keep to myself.
Painting the Picture
The reason I describe Groovy Spoons as a "club/pub" is because it really is a hybrid of the two. And I don't mean a "best of both words" situation, it's more like a genetically engineered abomination that should not exist for several ethical reasons. It is a pub for most of the week, however when the clock strikes 9 on a Friday and Saturday night, the tables are pushed to one side, the lights go down low, and some middle aged loser comes in to "DJ." Beer glasses are replaced with plastics by 10pm, and it's £3 entry between 11pm and 12.30am, then entry stops and it's non-stop cringe until 2am!
Another interesting thing about Groovy Spoons is that there are 3 managers, who each have very different styles of management, and who never ever seem to speak to each other. The first is Baz, he spends most of his shift sitting upstairs coked out of his head, and only saunters downstairs when he fancies a glass of milk. Then there is Keith, who is consistently whiny, extremely patronising, and just generally unpleasant. And finally, Sam, who is so completely boring, and goes "by the book" to the point where it seems like his writing a sequel book, just to go by that as well. It would be impossible for me to choose my least favourite.
The venue and the managers are bad enough, but the customers are a whole other story. And where else to begin, than with... The Guv'nor.
The Guv'nor is a man I will never forget, his image has been etched onto my soul so deeply that I see him before I go to sleep at night. He walked into Groovy Spoons and immediately captured the attention of all that were present, like in a western when the villain walks into the saloon; deadly silence. The Guv'nor was not a large man, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in sheer presence. He was clad in a thick brown leather jacket, dark shaded aviators, and a tall brown Vivienne Westwood Buffalo Hat that would put Pharrell Williams to shame. He came in with an attractive young woman on each arm, which was incredibly perplexing given that he must have been pushing 50 years old.
Now, to be fair, he kept to himself for most of the night, not causing any trouble, that was until one rowdy young punter got a bit too big for his boots. The punter, let's call him Jake, was throwing some very disrespectful insults towards the Guv'nor, mainly aimed at his ridiculous hat. Jake was relentless, he kept going and going, I can only assume he had a death wish. So the Guv'nor looks at me and beckons me over, it was like meeting your hero and being told off my your mum all rolled into one. He draws me in, closer and closer. And then he points towards Jake and shouts "TELL THAT MAN THE GOV'NOR SAYS F*** OFF!" This of course scared me to death. I did not want to be in the middle of a petty argument between too drunk men over a disagreement over a choice of hat. But he said it again; "tell that man, the Gov'nor says f*** off." So I thought I had to, what other choice did I have? I approached Jake and bumbled something along the lines of "Look mate, stop provoking that guy in the hat. Please," but it was too late, when I turned back around, the Gov'nor was gone. Maybe he got too upset about his hat and went home? Maybe he was taking the mature decision to leave before a fight broke out? Or maybe, just maybe, he was just never there, maybe he was out Lord God himself, come down for a nice bottle o' bubbly. Nobody can say for sure.
Old Nick, so called because he is the older of two men called Nick, is a man who makes me terribly uncomfortable. He has just turned 70, looks at you through thick jam-jar spectacles, and has slightly too much saliva on his lips at all times. Thankfully my interactions with him have been minimal, but the ones I've had have certainly been memorable.
My introduction to Old Nick was when he and a young Turkish man were loudly debating the benefits of hitting children. With Nick being on the side of "hitting children teaches them respect." This was fairly early on in my career as a bartender, so I was too shy to interject and tell him what utter nonsense he was saying.
I also witnessed him get very upset that a man he calls "Dan the Man" had started calling him "Nick the D***." He obviously wasn't feeling his friendly given moniker being reciprocated.
The most memorable moment with Old Nick, however, came on a Saturday night. He is predominantly a patron during the week, however on this occasion he had stayed past the pub/club transition and was aimlessly walking around making everyone uncomfortable. He was on what must have been his 10th Carling, and he had stopped by the bar because I assume walking had become too difficult. Suddenly there is a small commotion between him and a younger woman, so I went to investigate. The woman explained to me that he had made an inappropriate remark about her, and when she turned away from him, he pinched her bottom. So I called security over and they took him away, I thought to myself "what a job well done" and carried on miserably serving drinks. Roughly 10 minutes later I saw Old Nick sitting in the corner of the pub with his head in his hands. I asked the bouncer why he hadn't been thrown out for sexual harassment, and the bouncer explained to me that he is a regular so he gave him a second chance, as long as he stayed on the other side of the room. I approached Nick and I could see that he was crying his eyes out.
At this point, I want you to stop and think what you'd do in that situation. You're in a pseudo-nightclub, music blaring, people between 25 and 40 years-old dancing all around you, and you're staring at a 70 year-old man who is crying his eyes out for an objectively inappropriate action. What do you do?
I couldn't decide if he was crying out of regret, or crying because he got told off. In his mind, in the brain of Old Nick, did he honestly think that this young woman would enjoy a bum pinch so much that she would turn around and speak to him all night?? Surely not? So why do it?
All I could do was ask "Are you alright?" to which I got an answer I could neither hear, nor understand. So I just left him to it. I told the bouncer to call him a taxi if it got worse and went back to trying to ignore the fact he was there.
As busy as some weekends get, the evenings during the week are dead. I would have more to do in a graveyard than I do on a Monday night at Groovy Spoons. Although, this time allows me to get to know the very few locals that come in.
Will is an interesting man. He's about 5'8", stocky as a rugby player, with a very smiley baby-face. The man is stylish too, he has one of those fancy haircuts where its shaved all around the sides, leaving just a careful Soufflé of hair balanced on top of his head. And he's one of the only people I've ever seen that actually wears a Kanye West rat-nibbled hoodie out in public.
So I got chatting with Will, and he told me that he was in the middle of a big legal battle, because he had accidentally knocked his girlfriend out, whilst "defending himself." This came as a big shock as he seemed simply too nice to be capable of something so despicable, but what came as a bigger shock was his attitude towards the whole thing. Will said he was facing up to 6 months in prison, but he could not care less. He told me that he has several mates in prison, and he'd be glad to see them, plus it would be more like 12 weeks with good behaviour. The next shock came when he said that he is legally not allowed to see his girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend) anymore, but they have been arranging steamy hook-ups in hotels via Snapchat, so she must've gotten over the whole knocking out thing fairly quickly. The most amusing part was that the girlfriend's housemate's boyfriend is also in prison, and Will seemed chuffed that they could carpool when they'd be coming to visit.
Some Other Interesting Characters
There are a wealth of bizarre people who come in to Groovy Spoons, and I find some of them very amusing. Here are just a few:
Barry, a man who often runs out of money for his drinks, so he uses his last bit of change on the fruit machine, an often wins enough for a few more drinks. He is sometimes so confident that he orders the drink, waits until I'm pouring it, and then goes on the fruity with his last quid. And to be fair to him, it's never not worked.
Kevin, a man who makes his entire living on stealing things from Marks & Spencer's and selling them on. He comes in with bags full of smoked salmon slices and sirloin steaks, and sells a bag full for £20. This is far less than what those products are worth, but the beauty of it is, he is making 100% profit because he didn't buy any of it. So the genius of his business model is that he sells it for an amazing price, so that people buy it, but he is only making profit. But, I mean, he does run the risk of being arrested on a daily basis so it's not that great, but its just an occupational hazard I guess.
Jenny is a woman that used to work behind the bar with me. She was a young woman, in her mid 20s, and she attracted a lot of unwanted attention from the horrible creeps that came in to drink. But I'll always admire the way she dealt with them. On one occasion, some 50 year old bloke was showing off that he had just won a lot of money on a horse racing bet, and he offered to take Jenny out for dinner with his winnings. This, of course, made her uncomfortable, so she declined. And when he asked why not, she simply replied with "It's because you're fat." This really shut him up, his mates made fun of him all night and he didn't speak to her again. I asked her about it and she told me she says that to every creepy guy who asks her out, she said it really shuts them down. I though this was great advice, although I have never needed to use it.
Jim, unlike most other customers, is actually a nice man. He is always very polite and friendly, and doesn't cause any trouble. He comes in on a weeknight, buys a bottle of wine, and sits in the corner of the pub, loudly laughing as he watches funny cat videos on his phone. He once told me all about his own cat, and how she is "a total nutter." And when I asked how a cat can be a total nutter, he told me, "Well I will just sit and annoy her, like poke and prod and annoy her, until she turns around and attacks me! Total nutter!" His eyes beam with pride as he tells me this, and it makes me wonder if it's actually him who is the nutter, because what kind of person annoys a cat until it attacks and thinks it's the cat that's out of line? He is a nice bloke though.
I guess that's enough Groovy Spoons for one day, you're probably still trying to get over the whole pub/club transition thing.
Tune in again sometime for a nice follow up. I'm full of stories and experiences, and the longer I work here the more I will have.
Disclaimer: These stories and characters are 100% real, however all names and locations have been altered so I don't lose my job.
You can find more tales from Groovy Spoons here: https://proof.media/tales-from-groovy-spoons-2-insecurities