Every day, thousands of Brits are on a mission to find the closest pub and drink till grumpy bar staff kick them out. Let me tell you about, ‘Retro’, a pub that was pretty much my second home for two years (it’s now unfortunately closed down). I’m not the one to sit outside ‘Pizza East’ or ‘Electric Diner’, desperately trying to “fit in”. I prefer something like ‘Retro’, just some good old low maintenance fun and genuine people.
The owners, Frank and Andy, were like a typical married couple. Frank would often roll his eyes, “I always do everything!”, to which Andy would just grumble. Frank was a gay Brazilian man, who had a penchant for watching and reading trash. He was a lovely guy, but if he didn’t like someone, he’d make sure they knew about it! Eye rolling, whispering, bitching – the works! Andy, however, was an extremely laid back melomaniac, whose dream was to marry Courtney Love. He was a guy who had no sense of urgency when it came to serving customers. He’d much rather sit outside, smoke an infinite amount of Mayfairs, and sigh about life.
And then, of course, there were the regular customers. For example, Peanut and Joe, a married couple, who were constantly arguing. Mostly because Joe was an absolute liability, but somehow she always stuck by him. They lived near the pub and one time in a drunken haze, my boyfriend and I, accepted their dinner invite. Peanut kept stressing that Joe was making his famous chicken curry, which had been slow cooking all afternoon. I guess anything slow cooked is worth checking out, right?
Wrong! Oh, so wrong!
So, there we were, sat in the living room, with Peanut fiercely playing Farm Ville, and Joe talking absolute gibberish. He kept disappearing into the kitchen to check on the curry and I was getting more and more sober. I tried to stay positive by reminding myself that there was food at the end of the tunnel! After a long wait, the dinner was finally served. Or whatever was left of it. It appeared that on his little curry “checking” trips to the kitchen, Joe had pretty much eaten most of the meat. Rest of the chicken had completely disintegrated and all that was left was oil. We sat there for good few hours and I kicked myself for being too fucking polite to leave.
Then there were, Bob and Jane, a couple who started partying in the late 1970s and never stopped. Jane would always cause heartbreak and anger with her sharp tongue and quick wit. She never hesitated to murder people with her words, usually followed by a loud masculine laugh. She would constantly wind up Frank and Andy with such classics as, ‘there’s dust everywhere!, ‘did Stevie Wonder upholster those chairs?’, ‘Andy, you look like a miserable donkey!’ and so on. Bob was the strong silent type. He didn’t say much, but when he did, it either made no sense or was completely irrelevant to the context of the conversation.
Another regular customer was, Stan. He looked like The Penguin from ‘Batman Returns’. The more he drank, the less plausible his stories got. He was your typical wheeler-dealer, but really sweet at the same time. Stan had a bad leg, which usually became an issue when he tried to walk home after several pints. You’d often see him reeling in the night, street lights reflecting off his bald head.
Now imagine all these people high. Yes, high. One time Stan brought in space cakes and everyone eagerly tucked in. There’s always that one person who thinks it’s not working, so they eat huge quantities. Big mistake. You will most likely end up giggling yourself to death, or staring at a chewing gum on the ground for an elongated period of time. The latter happened to Bob. It was priceless.
I saw these people pretty much every day for two years. The failed comedy night attempts, cool live bands, chain smoking, funny conversations, and colourful characters – a lot of good memories. I love people who are mad, who are far from being perfect, but have great sense of humour and warmth. I guess that’s what it feels like to be part of a community.