I went to a gig on Saturday evening and bumped into some people I used to work with in a local pub. We worked in a town centre boozer back in ’99. It was a great little place attracting a mix of students, townies, old regulars and oddballs. There were few rules other than time keeping, honesty and no jeans. So long as we worked hard and the till balanced at the end of the night the landlord was happy. He didn’t mind if we drank behind the bar, so long as we smiled and kept people spending. So we drank, served drinks, smiled, drank some more and smiled more. Everyone was happy.
The only time I remember there being a group of disgruntled customers was when I hosted the pub quiz. A group of three men and one woman entered the quiz every Thursday. This group of four didn’t come into the pub at any other time except for quiz night. They called themselves The Snowballs and they were invincible. They came in with looks of grim determination and left with the prize money in their pockets. Not that they spent any of it in the pub, they made one drink last all night.
I’d been working behind the bar for a few months when the landlord asked me if I would like to host the quiz. He said I could be paid in cash or free drink for the night. Strangely I chose cash. A friend forewarned me about the Snowballs.
“They never lose,” she said as she handed me a quiz book. She made her feelings clear, she wanted the Snowballs out.
I set the hardest questions I could, impossible questions, questions contestants on University Challenge would struggle to answer. The big night came, I was nervous. I decided to be paid in cheap doubles as well as cash. It made sense, I was shy and hated public speaking. 8pm came around, well oiled I jumped on the mic.
The questions foxed them completely. Not only them but every other pub quiz team playing. After an hour of me slurring questions into the mic I called in the answer sheets. The results were atrocious but there was hope. Some random team, probably made up of Chemistry students from the local university, had got three of the questions right. We had a winning team!
I was elated, as was my friend. The Snowballs were ready to revolt. I could see them edging closer to the landlord, who was surprised – and secretly happy I would imagine – that they didn’t win. I saved myself from a near lynching by singing the beginning of the Banana Splits theme tune down the mic. The whole pub erupted – ‘Na, Na, Na, nanananaaaa, Na, Na, Na, nanananaaaaaaaaa……’
And I slid quietly, and drunkenly, off.
“I hear the Snowballs lost”, said my friend the next day. “They weren’t happy.”
I nodded. My work was done. I didn’t host the pub quiz ever again.