Why do women go to the toilet together? I have no idea, but I do know that it would be very strange for men to do likewise: ”I’m just off for a slash, Pete. You coming?” is not a sentence uttered often by your average male punter.
So when I see a group of blokes heading for the gents in convoy, stony faced and blinkered, the landlord alarm labelled ‘coke’ goes off in my head.
It’s a sad and unavoidable fact that the legal highs we serve are not enough for some; that getting tipsy and having a laugh just doesn’t satisfy the escapist nature of those determined to have a better night than us square pegs drinking from round holes. They’ve gotta get higher baby.
We’ve all been young. Many of us have gone beyond the acceptable establishment drugs of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine and had some stonking nights because of it, but I doubt many of us would count being off our tits listening to Postman Keith murder Elvis on the karaoke machine in The Golden Lion as one of them.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not condoning the use of class A drugs in nightclubs either, but I can see the marriage with flashing lights, heavy bass lines, fast beats and dance floors being a much happier one than with Sky Sports News on the telly and the crack of pool balls.
So while the cutting crew are queuing for lines at the cubicle door, waiting to snort their pre-paid pleasure through a grubby tenner from the top of a twenty-year-old cistern lid, you can feel your credibility diminishing.
You’re not the only one who’s seen this and you know it.
Those that turn blind eyes rarely have tight lips and a bad reputation is the hardest to lose.
You must act.
This means leaving the safety net of the witnesses and unpaid minders of the bar. You’re often confronting two or three young males alone and in a confined space after they’ve just shoved a tenners worth of energy up their hooter.
You’re outnumbered and confronting men that you don’t know, but you have to do it. You have to get them out. You must be seen to do something, as most ordinary punters hate having drugs flying around their local.
Accusation, denial, threat, aggression, abuse, incredulity and lies all feature in this mini play on the tiled stage, under fluorescent strip lights and with the odour of your recycled products in the air. And eventually they go, with a parting shot and a “watch your back, mate”, fearful of the having to ditch their stash if the police get involved.
And so we bemoan the dealers. Those who inflict this nuisance on our lives and threaten our livelihoods, yet there are many who would argue that we licensees are but drug dealers ourselves. It’s a difficult accusation to refute, although it’s a very different drug and we purvey our relief in a very different way.
We don’t have to hide what we do. We regulate whom we serve and how much they can have. We refuse those that will do others harm and we see the consequences of our transactions.
If the pub is a house of pleasure, a brothel if you will, and we landlords and ladies are the madams, then the coke dealers are the pimps hawking out street hookers to the kerb crawlers.
Shame on them and shame on those who put our licences at risk by seeking pleasure where most people just have a shit.