First Chapter: Life Behind Bars: Confessions of a Pub Landlady

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It is almost 2am and I am alone in the bar, lovingly nursing a delicious vodka and tonic and pondering over the evening’s events. I enjoy the stillness of the place that less than an hour ago was bursting with life and noise. While the glasses remain strewn across the bar and the smell of cheap perfume and sweat still lingers. And the dog has piddled against the bar because you either forgot or ignored it’s plaintive barking to go out.

This is the world that we publicans inhabit and quite frankly, customers in general are a bloody nuisance and only make the place untidy. I would much prefer them to just send us a cheque once a week; we’d then supply them with booze delivered to their home and let the buggers mess up their lounges, be sick in their toilets and shag their own wives. How pleasant and profitable life would be.

But till that happens I can enjoy the solitude, until the phone breaks my reverie. All pub phones ring at a hundred decibels so they can be heard over the Saturday night noise. But at 2 am in an empty bar, it could summon the dead. As I struggle off a wobbly bar stool, well I think it’s the stool that’s wobbling; wondering who has lost their keys, their mobile phone, or a maybe a husband MIA.

“Hello?”

“Hello it’s me.”

“For fuck’s sake, it’s 2am which me is it?”

“It’s me, me”

Then the penny dropped.

“What’s wrong? What’s happened?”

“Oh my God! Oh my God! You’ll never guess! Big Agnes dropped down dead.”

“You’re kidding!” (Why anyone says this, or why anyone would joke about such a thing is beyond me.)

“Of course I’m not kidding. Oh my God it was terrible. We’ve had the police, ambulance, fire brigade. We even had to shut the bar early; lost a fucking fortune.” (Oh yes, we are all that crass!)

“What happened?”

“Christ, you’ll never believe it and if you laugh I will NEVER speak to you again.”

God it was serious.

“What happened?”

“She dropped down dead.”

“Dead?”

“Don’t you laugh.”

You should never say that to anyone. Even if it’s not funny, they are going to roll about hysterically. I could feel the laughter rising already and I didn’t know what had happened.

“Well she dropped down dead. Right at the end.”

“The End? End of WHAT?”

“You dare laugh! Her song.”

“For fuck’s sake, her song? She was singing?”

“Remember we had a big karaoke competition on.”

“Right, right, and what happened?”

“Well Agnes had just come to the end, given it full blast, grand finale and then she just dropped down, stone cold dead. Oh my God, I still can’t believe it.”

Why would she think I’d laugh, what could be remotely funny about that? There’s more to this!

“What was she singing?” I whispered.

“I knew it, I knew you’d twig!”

You know what’s coming? You’ve already guessed? What would I twig? What was she singing? Yes folks, it was:

‘I WILL SURVIVE’

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“Hello? Are you there? Linda? Hello, hello?”

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