A Fragment of Bar Life
by Charles Jennings
The main bar in the Olivier foyer. Late 1970’s. The start of the evening shift. Things are quiet. Three part-time bar staff fumble with peanut packets and bottles of mixers. GARY, the head barman, comes in carrying a crate of soft drinks, which he bangs down on the floor. He is 27 years old; wears tattoos.
PART-TIMER ONE (looking at GARY’s face, which sports a glowering black eye): What happened to your eye, Gary?
GARY says nothing, goes to fetch another crate. The PART-TIMERS shrug. GARY returns and crashes the fresh crate down.
PART-TIMER TWO: Harold Pinter?
GARY: Fucking stuck one on me.
PART-TIMER ONE: He stuck one on you?
GARY: I hate that fucking bloke.
PART-TIMER TWO: Why?
PART-TIMER TWO: You hate him?
GARY: He can stick one on me, I can’t hit him back. Cause he’s Pinter.
PART-TIMER THREE: Why’d he stick one on you?
GARY: I was making too much noise with the crates. He was in the theatre, listening. He said he could hear the crates out here during all those fucking pauses. Fucking Betrayal.
He came out and smacked me.
I could have fucking killed him. I’d have fucking laid him out. He’s a cunt, Pinter.
The PART-TIMERS affect a keen interest in their work. GARY stands in the centre of the bar, looking out into the empty foyer.
Charles Jennings is a writer based in London. His non-fiction titles include ‘Them And Us’, ‘The Fast Set’, ‘Up North’, etc. He was also one half of the bibulous blog ‘Sediment (I’ve Bought It So I’ll Drink It)’, now available in book form.
2 thoughts on “An Evening With Harold Pinter”
Royal Court theatre, last century. A new production of a play by Harley Granville-Barker. A couple in the Dress Circle whisper, but can just be heard. Two rows ahead Harold Pinter turns, and in a voice carrying aggressive menace through the theatre, the stage, the bar and beyond, snarls: “WILL….. YOU…… BE …… QUIET!!!”