Pinteresque. Photo David Secombe, text Charles Jennings (1/3)

Long bar, Olivier foyer, Royal National Theatre, SE1. Photo © David Secombe 2010.

A Fragment of Bar Life by Charles Jennings:

The main bar in the Olivier foyer. Late 1970’s. The start of the evening shift. Things are quiet. Three part-time bar staff fumble with peanut packets and bottles of mixers. GARY, the head barman, comes in carrying a crate of soft drinks, which he bangs down on the floor. He is 27 years old; wears tattoos.

PART-TIMER ONE (looking at GARY’s face, which sports a glowering black eye): What happened to your eye, Gary?

GARY says nothing, goes to fetch another crate. The PART-TIMERS shrug. GARY returns and crashes the fresh crate down.

GARY: Pinter.

PART-TIMER TWO: Harold Pinter?

GARY: Fucking stuck one on me.


PART-TIMER ONE: He stuck one on you?

GARY: I hate that fucking bloke.



GARY: What?

PART-TIMER TWO: You hate him?

GARY: He can stick one on me, I can’t hit him back. Cause he’s Pinter.


PART-TIMER THREE: Why’d he stick one on you?


GARY: I was making too much noise with the crates. He was in the theatre, listening. He said he could hear the crates out here during all those fucking pauses. Fucking Betrayal.


He came out and smacked me.


I could have fucking killed him. I’d have fucking laid him out. He’s a cunt, Pinter.

The PART-TIMERS affect a keen interest in their work. GARY stands in the centre of the bar, looking out into the empty foyer.

2 Comments on “Pinteresque. Photo David Secombe, text Charles Jennings (1/3)”

  1. This is true isn’t it? How true? I know Pinter was a famous pugilist and rather touchy at times, and I think I may have read somewhere that he did deck a barman once. Or is there some artistic license here? It’s delicious, whatever the truth or fiction…

  2. Charles was indeed working at the National Theatre bar in the very early 80s and the scene described was one he witnessed (although he didn’t see Pinter in the act of lamping the barman).