The guests at the Drumming Barman’s leaving party gathered round, expectantly.
I fiddled with a guitar lead, somewhat nervously. I’d envisaged slightly different scenarios for the Village Pub Band’s debut gig.
As it was, that expectation threw me. When one is slightly unprepared, one looks for familiar faces in the room who will like you because they’re your friend, rather than because you are brilliant. Aside from Short Tony and Big A, there was nobody I knew. All strangers, mates of the Drumming Barman, waiting to be impressed by his musician buddies. Beside me, the Chipper Barman tuned his bass guitar, similarly on his own in the room.
It would be up to the Drumming Barman to carry this one.
Thinking back, the phrase ‘slightly unprepared’ might have been understatement. We hadn’t rehearsed at all. Or met beforehand. Or talked about what songs we knew. Small matters, I know, but ones which most competent pop groups would have had sorted before the house lights went down.
As noted on Monday, I was also quite drunk, having downed several pints, several more glasses of wine and exposed myself to a blonde female lawyer.
I have a bit of a problem with drinking and playing the guitar. That is – and I am sure this is the sole reason why my pop career never took off – when I’m drunk I can only ever remember two songs. This would be limiting enough as it was. The fact that my two songs are ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’ by Chas ‘n’ Dave and ‘I will be (500 Miles)’ by the Proclaimers, does tend to restrict me to niche audiences.
“What are we going to play?” hissed the Chipper Barman.
I dropped my guitar pick and scrabbled around on the floor whilst the Drumming Barman worked the crowd. He’s a popular chap. With myself and the Chipper Barman as his backing band, we could possibly carry things off with the force of his personality. I started playing a chord. Chigga Chigga. Chigga Chigga. Some applause. The room focused on the Drumming Barman, oozles of goodwill coming from all his friends.
Chigga Chigga. Chigga Chigga.
“Phone call for the Drumming Barman,” somebody announced.
“Won’t be a second, chaps,” he promised, and disappeared from the room.
The crowd turned to us. Expectation. A couple of them folded their arms. I exchanged a glance with the Chipper Barman. Silence.