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.

Pause

PART-TIMER ONE: He stuck one on you?

GARY: I hate that fucking bloke.

Pause

PART-TIMER TWO: Why?

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.

Pause

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

Pause

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.

Pause

He came out and smacked me.

Pause

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.


Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Charles Jennings. (2/5)

Sloane Rangers, Kensington, 1983. © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

Society Wedding by Charles Jennings: 

‘The Boltons, yes. And I mean, the Queen Mother’s actually been there, to dinner, apparently.’

Really?

‘But apparently she didn’t sign the visitors’ book.’

‘Well, she wouldn’t would she?’

‘So of course, James’ – the boyfriend – ‘had to volunteer first, so they gave him a box of watercolours and a brush. And he spent ages trying to get the watercolours to go on the brush, but he’d forgotten that he needed some water first.’

‘He’s so sweet, James, so funny.’

‘Thing is, Emma had James’ Jack Russell as a bridesmaid –‘

‘As in a dog?’

‘So sweet!’

‘Emma phoned, the honeymoon was fab, wants to meet up –‘

‘Istanbul? I know that city, actually. Went with Simon and Gemma and Charlie last summer. Charlie’s so funny, he stood outside that big mosque and – ’

‘Why couldn’t she make it tonight?’

‘Dinner with James’ grandmother. She’s ninety and lives in a tiny flat on Trafalgar Square.’

‘I didn’t know anyone lived there!’

So sweet!’

… for The London Column. © Charles Jennings 2011.



Homer Sykes: Britain in the 1980s. Text by Charles Jennings (1/5)

Charity Ball, Hilton Hotel, circa 1980. Photo © Homer Sykes/Photoshelter.

Club Night by Charles Jennings:

Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman. We’d like to do a Commodores number now –

Oh God. Three Times –

A beautiful number.

It’s once –

Shit!

Twice –

I’m dancing to this. This is my FAVOURITE –Three Times A Lady –I don’t CARE about Roger. He never dances. I don’t care. I’m fucking DANCING this one ANYWAY –

Thank you very much.

… for The London Column. © Charles Jennings 2011.