Last Orders at the Bar Please
What do you get if you cross a classically trained opera singer and a rugby player? The answer is a mass of contradictions called Pete. The man was a darkly handsome Corinthian with a brooding presence (Mr Darcy eat your heart out), he had a sardonic sense of humour and was a complete wind-up merchant. As a teacher he cultivated a reputation for being sexist pig and deliberately outraged his 6th formers until they realised the joke was on them. He was cultured, suave, immaculately turned out, sang opera, loved classical music and a clean house. It seemed at variance with his joy at playing rugby and the bawdiness associated with the game.
Nights out with Pete were legendary and not to be missed. He loved to carouse the night away and drink in excess. He had a real bug bear about English drinking legislation, loathed the bell that signalled last orders and heralded ‘time gentlemen please’ (or get it down your necks and vacate the premises – else we’ll set the bouncers on you). He had various schemes to delay the inevitable where he worked the whole pub into a frenzy of boozy bonhomie that became so infectious that no-one moved towards the door when the final bell was rung.
My favourite Pete’s Ploy was the one where he sung snippets of his operatic repertoire (crowd pleasers, of course) in a pitch perfect voice that resounded throughout the bar. His gorgeous voice often silenced the pub’s patrons in a show of appreciation or had them lustily joining in, depending upon the tempo of the song.
The plan went like this:-
Buy a couple of beers for each member of the group when the bell rang for last orders. Sing an attention grabbing song that the whole pub tunes into. Next belt out a sad, haunting melody that causes the punters to sigh woozily to each other over their pints. Follow that up with a couple of rousing well known operatic solos, at which point circulate the pub and encouraged people to join in. At some point during the last two renditions, the bell would ring for time. By now everyone was having a ball and had no intention of leaving the pub. Perform a couple more sing along songs and conduct the newly formed choir. Whenever the crowd flags, rally them again by changing tunes or giving vocal encouragement.
With 60 – 100 plus patrons singing loudly, no one could hear the staff shouting for everyone to leave and drinking up time could be extended for up to 45 minutes. Giving us plenty of time to appreciate the extra pints purchased at last orders.
It was a great plan and worked a treat for about 2 months until staff wised up and shut Pete down before he could get the bar rocking. Pete didn’t take kindly to not being able to sing and proclaimed his displeasure by launching into rude, raunchy rugby songs that usually got him barred. Eventually we ran out of pubs in our local area that we could drink in.
We moved onto wine bars.