Opinion

Why I still work in a pub

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Eight [years] has been great: Nikkie Sutton, senior food and drink reporter at The Morning Advertiser
Eight [years] has been great: Nikkie Sutton, senior food and drink reporter at The Morning Advertiser
For me, my local pub means so many things. It’s the place where I met my soon-to-be husband; made relationships with some of my best friends; somewhere I can walk into at any time of the day (or night); and it’s also where I feel safe and part of a community.

It’s also a place, as of eight years ago, of work. Just before the summer of 2010, I agreed with the then licensee of my local pub that I would help out behind the bar during the World Cup.

Now almost a decade on, I’m still here. In that time, I’ve watched the pub go through incredible and difficult times, but one thing has stayed the same – that sense of community.

During the past eight years, we’ve seen many extreme weather events, 'that's nothing out of the ordinary for the UK' I hear you shout, but when the extreme weather has hit, the pub has been full of locals with their shovels and strength to clear the cellar or the car park in order to ensure it was safe for all.

The World Cups are actually my personal favourite shifts to work – despite not being a big fan – because the whole place comes alive with the sound of excitement and happiness.

Another moment that stands out is when there was particularly bad flood that covered a five-mile radius of the pub during one Christmas and there was no power.

Coming together

However, this didn’t stop our locals from having a good time. The pub was packed with people singing, in the dark on Christmas Eve.

Until 10pm that was when, like a Christmas miracle, the power came back on (still to this day, I have no idea how or why!) A cheer like I have never heard before erupted from the swarms of people in the bar and the rest of the evening carried on with the same joy.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing couples get together, marry and have children, which they now bring in the pub too. Saying that, there’s also the more unfortunate side of things where I have attended the funerals of locals as well.

I’ve ‘watched’ the pub’s football team on rainy Sundays; gone on a football tour with the team alongside pub customers; attempted to play for the darts team; helped out in charity events; worn fancy dress for themed nights; participated in quiz nights; and even represented my local at a Pubwatch meeting.

And, of course, it works both ways. The number of times I have given customers a lift home (following them asking me, in a joking manner, ‘is Noisy Cabs on offer tonight?’ since my nickname of Noisy came from my loud nature!) I have even walked a particularly elderly gentleman home, right up into his bed because he was a little worse for wear, before he then told me off for not removing my shoes.

Now, in those eight years – and I have tried to quit this year but lasted all of about four months – I just couldn’t keep away. I came back and I am now here more than ever.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Giving the locals as much grief as they give me, welcoming the new customers into the fold and, of course, hearing the stories of the young and old, and learning something new every day makes every shift different.

We all know teamwork makes the dream work and working together behind the bar certainly binds you.

Working ridiculously busy shifts, calming each other down and providing some much-needed light-hearted fun makes the long hours turn into a blur.

While the bits like barring people, stroppy customers and clearing up bodily fluids aren’t the most glamorous parts of the job, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Between the customers and my colleagues (who are also friends), we really are like one, big, slightly dysfunctional family.

And that is why, I still work in a pub.

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