Spending a few days away this weekend working in my friends pub did me both the world of good and also dragged me back a little. It did a lot more too, it let me see (and hear from) people that I love and that love me back, and that is a great healer in itself. It only dragged me back because I chose to ignore some pertinent advice from my pint pulling, North London Landlord friend. “No good will come of talking to that woman” he said. Of course in modern day terms “talking” is also texting and/or in this particular case, Emailing. He actually said this in December of 2016, but due to the mushiness of my Limbic system and the fact that my amygdala is totally and unconditionally still operating at full capacity for a certain person, he had to tell me this again this weekend – July 2017. He was right all along. “What about Online dating?” he asked. “Best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” he said with a glint of mischief and seriousness all wound in together.
I met a few new people this weekend, I also said hello to a few old faces that frequent the pub. I’m a bit older than the majority of the bar staff and obviously I don’t work there full time, so when I do step behind the ‘ramp’, the regulars remember me and ask how I’m doing and what I’m up to. My friends who run and live at the pub were both away having a well earned break from what is a hardcore lifestyle of continuous operation, strenuous management, repetitive duty and long hours – never mind bringing up a small child and trying to nurture a loving adult relationship themselves. I was left alone with the keys, lots of alcohol, the cash float and the rotary volume dial to the music system. Game on.
“I was left alone with the keys, lots of alcohol, the cash float and the rotary volume dial to the music system.
One of the regulars is a fantastically articulate, well spoken and smart but down to earth professional in the medical industry. He appeared at the pub door only seconds after my keys had turned in the lock with a look of anguish on his face. “Bollocks”. The first words from his mouth as he pulled up an old fashioned, well worn bar stool to the side of the customer-less serving area. “I left my phone in a bloody Uber last night – how can I track it?” I questioned him about the type of phone and wether it had the manufacturers built in tracking device installed and operating. “I have no idea, I’ve never used it” came the answer. I popped upstairs and retrieved my laptop from the front room above the old Victorian built bar and returned it to where Ganesh sat alone, nursing his Camden ale and contemplating how he would manage in modern life without the Silicon Valley devised machine. Within a few minutes and a few key strokes, a moving green dot appeared on a Map of west London as it passed a well known landmark. Clearly Ganesh had enabled the tracking device, but to his own admittance he had no recollection of ever doing so. A quick search on the Uber website and a call from my mobile phone and last nights driver was on his way to reunite last nights inebriated passenger with the moving green dot presently carrying out orbits at Kensal Green Cemetery.
Ganesh and I sat talking, alone in the wonderfully decorated, timeless public house while awaiting the Uber driver. It’s amazing how the chat and banter is different when you’re alone from when you are in multiple company. Ganesh opened up to me about a huge issue he had at work and how he was under investigation for an (non) event that occurred last year. He was truly gutted about it, and like me, was battling with his professional body to defend himself. We lamented on how our careers were suffering because of our similar situations and I felt solace in the fact that I wasn’t the only person struggling with employment related bureaucracy. Toward the end of the conversation Ganesh totally threw in a curveball and surprised me with question about my particular situation. “So, if they said no to issuing your licence and you had to do the extra work, how much would it cost you?” I replied with a figure of approximately £6000, but explained that as I was now bankrupt, it may as well be £600 or £60’000, as I don’t have it anymore. “I’ll lend it you” he said.
I haven’t danced in a long time. Through the door of the pub came a young woman of about 20-25 year old. “Can I bring in a child” she asked in her modern youth London accent as she strode confidently in to the bar, her large silver hoop earrings swinging wildly from side to side. I didn’t see the child at all as the young girl and two of her fake tanned friends ordered their drinks, and I presumed the child to be in a pushchair or buggy and wrapped up well out of site. Initially the three legging clad girls sat outside on the benches that allow the patrons to watch the world outside go by (at at least 20 mph above the speed limit normally). “Alright mate!” a voice came from nowhere in a pub that was at less than 10% of it’s legal occupancy capacity. “Nice flowers! Where you get ’em?” My ears and eyes came away from the constant scanning of peoples drinks and physical actions that come with ensuring that everyone is (a) topped up and (b) not too tanked up. My hearing RADAR made the muscles in the left hand side of my neck extend and in the right contract, and I looked over to see a beautiful little girl in a flowing white dress and big pink training shoes sat by the window admiring the locally sourced lilies that adorned the huge victorian style window bay. “They smell good” she said as she dropped off the low laying table stool and onto the original wooden floor below. “Hiya mrs” I said. I stood on my tip toes to watch her approach the bar, “what are you up to today?” I continued. “Just out with mum and my aunty and Jemma too” she said factually. We chatted, laughed and after permission from her mum, who had now come indoors with her two friends and were all sat watching this little girl and I interact, I gave her a small box of smarties chocolates that were meant for the resident daughter. “Can you dance mate?” she quizzed … “Can I dance, can I dance? – You bet I can dance” I said. “Lets do this !”, and with a nod and a wink from her mum and a quick question about the little girls favourite song, Spotify was re tuned and the rotary volume dial made it’s way from 3 to 5 to drown out the monotonous ‘POC – POC‘ sound of Wimbledon on the big TV screen, and the party began.
‘Summer Nights’ from the musical Grease was pushed through the ample sound system, and the legs of the little Down Syndrome girl began to move like a high jumper on his/her initial run up to the bar at the Commonwealth Games. We danced in the fire exit doorway of the bar where 3 years ago, I first brought the only woman I have ever truly loved to meet my best friends – the Landlord and Lady; one of my favourite photos of her is standing right there. We danced for more than one song and for that 3 or 4 minute period, all my worries and problems disappeared as I danced and laughed with this beautiful and amazing little girl, and she danced and smiled with her new mate.
Sometimes it’s the little things that give you the most pleasure, but it is often masked by the constant battle of daily life that surrounds you. My head didn’t even acknowledge that this absolute gem had happened to me or indeed the brilliantly kind offer of financial help from Ganesh, until today, some 4 days later, because my head was somewhere else, thinking of someone else and surrounded by an amazingly complex and depression inducing set of problems. I am now wondering what other amazing opportunities, events, ideas or situations I have missed over the last 12 months because of being blinded by these problems.
The lilies on the bay window at the pub didn’t survive that day, I cut the stems short and let Summer take them home as a trophy for out dancing me in the North London Pub ‘dance off’. I do hope I see my little dancing partner again.