For my foreign (namely English) readers, “you’re barred” is what a pub landlord says to you when he no longer wants your custom. It’s only happened to me twice, the last time was only a couple of years ago when I went up to Glasgow to see my sons, and after a family dinner, my son’s friends joined us in the bar. I was quite the innocent party, as was my brother, and at 57, I was quite happy to sit at the back of the rather busy pub and drink my Gin and Tonic. But my son’s friend had objected to the barman serving him a drink which had splashed all over the bar and unfortunately he lost the argument.”You’re barred - you're all barred” was the cry from behind the counter and the lot of us were thrown out. What an injustice, but disappointed as I was, being barred from a rather rough looking pub at the age of 57 was quite an achievement, so I accepted it with good grace.
The first time was quite different. I had not spoken to my brother for about five years despite us both living in the same city, but family differences (my fault I’m afraid) and a trivial argument had caused us to lose contact.
Always the peacemaker, I eventually got in contact with him and after a long heated discussion we agreed to meet in his favourite west end pub. I must have been about 29 at the time, he would be 24.
I turned up at the agreed hour and wandered into the bar. I saw him sitting in the far corner and went over holding my hand out in a sort of greeting. He stood up and without any warning whacked me full in the mouth with his fist.
I can’t remember my reaction but it must’ve been amazement mixed with anger mixed with pain. The next few seconds were a blur as I dragged him over the table at which he was sitting and we started laying into each other on the sawdust covered floor in a blur of fists and knees. I can remember thinking, ‘I’ve actually dressed up for this ‘meeting’ and here I am rolling about the floor’.
After what seemed like ages but could only have been about 30 seconds, the barman vaulted over the bar, separated us and as we stood there looking at each other, he said those immortal words, ”you’re both barred”. I remember Robert saying, ‘you can’t bar me – I’m a regular’, to which the barman’s response cannot be repeated.
We went outside and immediately formed a sort of friendship which guys do in adversity and started talking about the injustice of it all (which everyone who has ever been barred does). A few minutes later we were seated in a curry house wondering why we’d ever lost contact.
So why this posting? Well, I phoned my brother the other night and he said, “that’s the 4th time you’ve phoned me this week.” ‘Is that a problem’,I said. “You’re interrupting my dinner”, he complained. ‘So what’, said I ……… and it all came flooding back.