Before I begin, I should state for the record that I quite like this pub; I’ve spent many a blissful, booze-soaked hour within. The following rant is almost exclusively the result of my treatment, one July afternoon, at the hands of a member of their staff who shall, because I don’t want to invite a libel action but mainly because I don’t know her name, remain nameless.
If you live in East London, specifically around the Victoria Park area, you may have wandered past a pub on Grove Road called The Victoria.
If you’re a pretentious hipster twat with ideologically threadbare aspirations of bohemia who would self-apply adjectives such as “jaunty” or “rakish” then you’ve probably stopped to check out the signage, noted with a twist of your moustache that instead of sports, they show art-house films and perhaps wandered inside to order a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat. You may even have offered payment in kind with the ham-pawed scrawl of William S. Burroughs which, for some reason, hangs above the bar.
Indeed, if you’re the type of cock who wears rolled-up skinny jeans, brogues on sockless feet, plunging V-neck vests and lenseless thick-framed glasses, the chances are extremely good that you’ve pissed away many hundreds of trust-fund pounds therein, extruding the contents of your pores onto the clammy, tat-spattered walls and revelling in the surfeit of synth which adorns every single one of The Vic’s strikingly unique and boldly avant garde open mic nights.
In fact (and at the risk of labouring the point just a jot), if you’re a sour-faced bitch with “artfully dishevelled” hair (which makes you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge and fully deserved it), who wears flea-market ballet tutus in a painful simulacrum of individuality then you’ve probably worked behind the bar there at some point or another. You may even have been the one who served me the other day and undammed this river of fetid bile with your irredeemable fuck-headedness.
It was Sunday 22 July and the summer’s first approximation of warmth. I traipsed in around 4ish in the afternoon, feeling the novel effects of the sun and the gym session I had just wheezed through by way of an ill-advised hangover antidote. I was hot, tired and sweating like the moustachioed upper lip of a Shoreditch douchebag at an unventilated synth night (which incidentally should have ingratiated me to my surroundings) but I patiently trod water in the veritable ocean of time it took you to stop dicking about on your phone and ooze over to me.
I think it is fair to say we struck up an instant and unspoken rapport, you and I. I flashed you my most charming smile. You shot me a look which made me feel like I had just given the Ebola virus to your infant child. I felt instantly at ease.
“Could I please just have a glass of water?” I ventured in my most parched and unassuming voice, feeling more than a little like Oliver Twist.
Your look hardened, if that’s at all possible. The infant child had clearly succumbed to the virus and I had gatecrashed its funeral service with an impromptu rendition of “Baby got back”.
“We don’t give away tap water,” you farted with your stupid face.
“You don’t give away tap water?” I asked, hoping flaccidly that the tenor of my delivery would alert you to what a massive unreconstructed dick you were being. Fat fucking chance.
For the first time, your porcine features contorted into what some cruel sadist must once have told you was a smile – it had all the outward indicators of one but a lifetime spent hoarding tap water (presumably for the purpose of drowning puppies) had rendered it about as heart-warming as Hannibal Lecter. You were clearly enjoying yourself by this point; wielding the incalculable power of the barmaid without even a cursory nod to the weighty responsibilities of the office.
Nah, course not.
I have given myself 5 minutes to contemplate my position. I cringe now when I recall the audacity of my actions that afternoon and can only wonder what demented humour bid me believe I lived in a world where pubs simply doled out so rare a commodity as tap water FOR FREE. I mean if word were ever to leak out that The Vic was GIVING AWAY tap water, I don’t even want to contemplate the sort of carnage that might ensue. Perhaps it was the heat, the disarmingly quirky décor smashing at the boundaries of my comprehension, the naked mannequin in the corner razzing my puritanical notions of modesty, the sheer exhilaration of being in such a progressive and judgement-free environment where creative thought is given wings to soar. Perhaps it was the piercing gaze of Mr Burroughs. You wouldn’t get the author of The Naked Lunch in there asking for tap water, that’s for damn sure as mustard. Even he understood there are rules to life. I realise that now.
In any case, I wish to apologise for putting you in such an awkward position. The Good Samaritan was an idiot. Your actions, though they must have taken nerve and perspective, were eminently sensible and insured The Vic against the inconvenience of repeat custom.
Nah, I’ll be in next week and I promise I’ll remember to bring cash this time.
With any luck, this will also be up on the Huffington Post but if it isn’t, I’m sure you can appreciate why.