Einstein’s theory of relativity, in layman’s terms, states that time moves faster or slower depending on the observer. He spent ten years trying to prove this.
He could have saved himself an awful lot of time and thought by standing behind the bar of a local boozer on a hot Tuesday afternoon serving Boring George.
Boring George is a metaphor for a particular type of drinker and anyone who’s ever worked the graveyard shift in a pub will know at least one.
He trudges far
Searching for space
The empty bar
His favourite place
If he looks in the window and sees a crowd he’ll move on. He doesn’t wish to interact with fellow customers. They can walk away, turn around, tell him to shut up.
It’s you he wants: the captive of the counter. He wants you all to himself. He knows you can’t leave; can’t get away. He knows you’re unlikely to tell him to fuck off.
He knows that you’re his. His to bury with anecdotes and well rehearsed tales; his to educate with proffered wisdom; his to correct and criticise, and improve with advice.
He spies his prey
And shuffles in
You’re his today
Shall we begin..
You groan when you see him. You know what’s coming, but you’re professional enough to smile and thank him when he pays you for his pint.
Over the next hour or two your bar becomes cleaner than it’s been in weeks.
Every glass gets washed. Twice.
Every shelf gets wiped and dried. The back bar is arranged. Then rearranged. Then put back how it was before you rearranged it. But all to the droning soundtrack of The World According To Boring George.
There’s no escaping George. If you happen to nip out mid-anecdote to change a barrel (and believe me, there’s many a phantom barrel change when George is holding court) then he will continue as soon as you’re back in his sights.
He doesn’t want you to reply, merely to listen. He uses you because nobody else will stand him for longer than they possibly have to, and you, stuck behind the jump in an empty bar, have to listen.
A story here.
A moan there.
And all this time you try and think happy thoughts, think about the good things about your job and try to resist the urge to set off the fire alarm.
You look outside and every person walking by in the July sunshine is, to you, happy, rich, sexually satisfied and returning from a lunch of utopian quality.
And you’ve just spent two hours with George.
Two hours that seemed like eight, yet to him it’s flown by. He’s achieved his goal. He got to say what he wanted to say to someone who didn’t argue with him and, most importantly of all, listened.
And that’s when it hits you: The realisation of how lonely George is. How much he craves the attention. How rare it is for him to interact as he just has and just how much he needs the empty stage and the single audience of the graveyard shift.
And the feelings of relief at his departure vie with feelings of guilt and of pity.
At last he goes
With a parting groan
A reminder of woes
And again he’s alone.