Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fighting in the Street

Twenty odd years ago as a student at a certain University I won't mention, we used to sometimes visit a city centre pub which would be closed down in a flash today. Nowadays we blame the strength of modern lagers for trouble and yob violence, but this place brewed its own own range of beers, one of which was so strong that it literally made your eyes go funny. They only served it in third of a pint glasses and gave you a certificate for ordering one. If you were daft enough to repeat the process, you would receive another one whose writing was blurred.

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?

9 comments:

DaveyDaveDave said...

Perhaps it means you're getting old... :P

Steve said...

1. Cocaine
2. Insane licensing hours
3. Class - educated Uni types tend not to fight when drunk, but when the working/underclass types get leathered, they really go for it. It's really nothing new. If you read Engels he was shocked by the state of Manchester over 150 years ago where he describes hundreds of young people drinking, fighting, and rolling in the gutter as a result of too much drinking on a weekend. Not much has changed.

jaljen said...

2 types of drunk: happy drunk and nasty drunk.

I'm with Steve. If you've any innate sense of decency (or been properly brought up) then you don't stray from your core values even when in your cups.

If you have a propensity to mouthing off and being a boor when sober then guess what....

Anonymous said...

Consequences. 20 years ago I accidentally (and completely innocently) got involved in a pub brawl which led to 15 arrests. Three people went to prison, and lots of others were fined heavily. I was acquitted, but two friends were not and I remember them doing the community service. It was hard work. One guy on the same order breached it and was jailed for two weeks.

Now you'd get a £90 fixed penalty, which you wouldn't pay, and community service which you wouldn't do. (These are facts - check the figures for completion of orders and payment of FPNs.)

You have to be seriously bad to be jailed, and you get a lot of time off the sentence too.

Anonymous said...

My local, Fanny's in Saltaire, is fantastic. Real ale, lots of guest beers, weird decor, people drinking outside on the road, music I like playing and, best of all, weird people. All sorts in there, but for some reason, no chavs...

Never seen any trouble there either.

phiangle said...

I remember when I was 18 and 19 I used to be 8 stone soaking wet, I had long hair and rode a motorcycle. We used to hang out in what was considered spit and saw dust biker bars, we were all realy into live music and went along because these were the only places you could see real live music. The atmosphere was great, I dont remember feeling threatened and generally everybody was out for a laugh. The only night I recall there being a problem was when a group of skin heads decided to drink in one of the biker bars, they didnt even get the chance to start trouble before it was explained to them that leaving would be a good option.

misplacedperson said...

The Frog and Parrot and I claim my £5. It seems to have gone all chav wine bar these days, disappointingly. The Bath Hotel is exactly as it ever was though, which was reassuring.

Anonymous said...

I used to frequent rather wild and woolly biker bars in my youth. And in another country where bikers really do carry guns and use them. Biker bars were actually fairly safe places to drink because very few of the blokes had anything to prove and because, if anything did break out, then someone (perhaps more) would die.

The worst places to go for a drink were yuppie bars, where dickwits in cheap suits would get liquored up and then decide they had to prove they were real men. There seemed to be fights every few minutes in them, with no chance of just having a quiet drink.

(And okay, I do admit that on the handful of occasions when things did break out in biker bars I did manage to lose a few teeth, acquire some oddly bent fingers, and get an interesting new lip line. But that was a handful of incidents in 20 years and we were still friends the next day.)

Number 6 said...

When I lived in California I used to frequent a bar which was used by the local chapter of the Hells Angels. Never saw any trouble in there as only a born again idiot would want to start a row in a bar full of pissed up HAs. As the token Brit I got bought beers and when I moved back home was given a chapter t shirt and 'permission' to wear it.