Brian, our dads Benidorm flatmate had a life as a big shot in the Working Mens Clubs before he upped and emigrated to Spain and perhaps the thing that tipped him over the edge and determined him to flee these shores was the night he was usurped by his own glass collector.
Brian was concert secretary at East End Park Working Mens Club, an important job, he booked the turns and he compared and directed the shows every weekend, and of course he was a Club Committeman, that exalted position within every Working Mans Club where you get to treat the club as if it were your own and you certainly don’t pay any personal heed to things like closing time for instance.
But you have to make sure everyone else abides by the rules.
And so it came to pass that the club (one of the largest in Leeds) had received a reminder from Her Majesty’s Constabulary that some slippage in the Drinking Up Time rules had been noted and the ten minutes allowance after the bar closed had slipped to twenty minutes, or half an hour, and with this friendly reminder from a local Bobby the committee had asked Brian to enforce the Drinking Up Rule a little more forcefully in his role as concert room announcer.
And he did, the following weekend he made it clear to the audience that the bar closed at 11PM and after that they had ten minutes to finish their drinks and leave and that the club would be strictly observing this rule this weekend, any drinks left after 11.10PM would be removed from the tables.
But it was never intended that this would apply to the committee of course.
And so at 11pm sharp Brian announced “Last orders pu-llleeease” and seated at his raised podium desk at the side of the room he gave it another ten minutes, fiddled with the lighting and then announced “Any drinks left on the tables will now be collected, goodnight all” and turned and nodded to Old Jim, a small, wiry old codger who collected the glasses for a few free pints each Saturday, Old Jim had been briefed by Brian to collect every glass in at his command and Brians word was as good as law to Old Jim…
Brian was busying himself at the concert secretary’s podium desk, switching off the amplifiers, turning up the lights when he noticed in his periphery vision a hand reaching across the front of the desk towards his freshly pulled pint of beer…
“Oye, watch it pal” warned Brian, “mind my beer”
“Now drink up Brian you know the rules” said Old Jim, one hand on Brians beer
“Don’t bloody tell me the bloody rules” said Brian, “I wrote the bloody rules”
“Well you should know better then Brian” said Old Jim “Lets have this glass all drunk up or I’ll take it away right now”
“Not me you bloody idiot, I told you to collect THEIR glasses” and he indicated around the room with a wide sweep of an arm
“Rules is rules Brian” explained Old Jim, “Now lets have your beer…”
“Take your paws of my ale” warned Brian
“I’m only doing me job Brian…”
“I’ll come round this desk and bloody thump you in a minute, put my beer down and get THOSE glasses collected”
“I’m starting with yours Brian…”
Enough was enough, Brian grabbed at the glass of beer and so did his employee, they pushed and pulled at it over the desk and most of the ale spilled all over the mixing desk.
“Now look what you’ve done you bloody idiot” yelled Brian and the members who had been leaving the room now returned to their seats, settled down and started to watch the entertainment.
Somebody swung a punch, history does not record who swung the first punch but within seconds the club concert secretary and the glass collector that he employed were rolling around on the floor in a struggle to establish whether or not the drinking up rule applied to committeemen or not.
They were both ordered to appear before an emergency meeting of the club committee the following evening where a suspension of membership for one week was handed out however Brian took the hump and stormed out of the building vowing never to return – and he never did until the day he died on a flight back from Benidorm.
All of which caused a small problem to the remaining committeemen at East End Park for in his role as concert secretary Brian booked all of the acts for Saturday and Sunday nights in the club, and booked them for several months ahead. Not only this but it was the concert secretary’s job to publicise the acts, inform the monthly Club and Institute Handbook people of who was going to be performing each weekend and write up the posters to hang in the entrance hall of the club so that members knew who “the turns” were each weekend – all of this information was held in Brians diary and Brians diary was at his home.
They rang him a few days later,
“Brian, who are the turns this weekend”
“You’ll find out when they turn up”
“No, Brian, be reasonable, tell us who you’ve booked for this weekend…”
Brian moved to Benidorm to share an apartment with my father shortly afterwards and for the next several months the committee and members at East End Park had no idea of who the turns were going to be that weekend, no advertising, no word of mouth, they just had to wait and see what turned up and then one weekend when no-one turned up they had to assume that this was when Brians diary had run out and they could start booking their own turns again.