There weren't just customers drinking outside on the pavement (which would get stopped by the Police today) but people dancing about in middle of the road, spilling over to the opposite side of the street and even the people patiently queueing up to get in would be consuming beer that they had persuaded customers to buy for them. On certain nights it was mayhem, mass singsongs, dozens of students in fancy dress, down-in-one competitions and all manner of raucous behaviour. During one memorable evening, a friend threw up on the floor and the barmaid simply gave him a mop along with a clip round the ear and made him clean it up! All the staff wore some sort of medieval outfit and there was even a resident parrot which would occasionally 'escape' from its cage and fly around the place squawking away.
The only thing I never saw was any trouble. I can remember dozens of people standing on the tables trying to do a haka, and I can remember seeing people literally collapsing in front of me, but I genuinely do not ever recall seeing a single fight, nor do I ever remember the atmosphere feeling even remotely threatening.
So why is it that when I went into that same city centre on a Saturday night three weeks ago, it was filled with luminous Police and felt like a war zone?