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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com

Monday, 8 April 2013

Cocktail TIme!

May was dead and any holidaymakers who ventured out didn’t go far beyond the West End and its street of bars, so the lack of tourists was a little disturbing.  I was in a miserable mood as I’d left my RayBan Aviators on the bar when I nipped next door to the OK Corral, only to discover they had been stolen when I returned.  I could barely afford new RayBans, but sought out a new pair in Ibiza Town and never put them down again.  Dave set himself up in an apartment just outside San Antonio and I stayed there for the first month. A number of ‘characters’ were now turning up as the summer season started (Late May), amongst them a guy from LIverpool everyone called “Cat” (I think his real name was Paul).  Cat must have been pushing fifty years old and he was the go to guy for marijuana.  There was Les the Chef, (who surprisingly was a chef!) and a guy called Barnsley (he was from Barnsley!).  Later that summer a tall skinny lad from Preston arrived with his chubby friend looking for work; Dave called him “The Preston Pencil”, (Long, thin, pointless).  I ended up sharing a ground floor apartment with 3 bedrooms, with Les and Cat as it was close to the centre of town and the bar.  Great for stumbling back to bed alone or with company, but bad if you wanted to keep your possessions as it was impossible to securely lock any doors. 

Bar Confusion’s opening hours were the same everyday and we opened seven days a week from mid-May until the middle of October and the tasks were the same everyday.  Stock up 11am, open at noon, show Pirated movies from noon until 6pm and  then close until 7pm to shower and change.  I would re-open the Bar at 7pm and we remained open until 2am sometimes later if still busy.  Dave and I worked in the bar all summer long, no one else helped, except for Becky his wife if she was on the island, as Dave did not trust anyone else near the till.  The Preston Pencil and his fat friend propped customers in the street for us for a few days and Dave let them sleep in the stock room, (the till was emptied every night), as they had no money nor anywhere to stay.  They were evicted after Dave found out they had drunk two small bottles of chocolate milk in an attempt to ward off starvation.  They left the empties in plain view whereas they could have dropped them through the barred rear window and no one would have been the wiser, the fools!  After we closed for the night I’d go to a club until 6am, sleep until 11am and then start all over again. 

We gave up stocking barrels of San Miguel as the cooler was worse than useless and only stocked bottled beer; Heineken, San Miguel and Amstel.  We served tequila slammers, 

liquor shots, wine and eventually a small selection of in-house cocktails; the names of which I invented and retain the copyright to and will share a little further on.  The spirits were all the local hooch, Ron Blanco (Bacardi), Ron Negro (Dark Rum), there was a cheap and nasty Vodka and a foul Whisky that had never seen Scotland in its short life; a dodgy brandy that doubled as drain cleaner and Larios Gin that wasn’t too bad, all things said.  We also stocked all the brand name spirits as well, Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Gordons Gin, Bacardi Rum, Courvoisier Brandy and a few blended scotch whisky’s such as Ballentine, which is popular in Spain.  The trick was to top up branded bottles with the cheap rubbish unless we knew the customer, who then got the decent stuff which was kept under the bar.  Most of those “in the know” asked for a Smirnoff and Coke rather than just Vodka and Coke or a Gordons Gin and tonic as opposed to simply a Gin and tonic, by way of example. 

During May when we were quiet we’d call it a night early and go to a club with an English band around the corner.  I got up one evening and sang a few George Michael songs and the guys in the band said they might have a gig for me in July at the Miss Playa Bella contest.  As the Island started to fill with holidaymakers we eventually found ourselves getting busier especially after showing the films during the day.  It stunned me how anyone could spend good money to go to a sun-kissed island and choose to sit in a bar and watch grainy pirated copies of films on a 19” Portable TV?  But  they did and we profited from it, bless ‘em.

As May ended and June began we noticed increasing numbers of people passing outside in the evenings so Dave and I took turns to try and divert people into the bar pointing out the merits such as the music we played, as opposed to the crap they would get bombarded with later on in the clubs.  Whitsun Week was a turning point and we steadily increased patronage especially amongst the students who loved the music and my now famous (in their minds) cocktails.  The aim was always to get women into the bar before groups of men.  Women were far more likely to come in if they could see other women were already being served or were sat outside drinking, whereas they’d move quickly past if a group of sweaty lads, in football shirts and sombreros were singing along to U2 and trying, (but falling well short), to hit the notes Bono hit.  Invariably we’d succeed in getting girls in first, through sheer persistence and charm…………………

The Managers of Es-Paradis, Star Club and Pacha came in and handed over 200 or so cards for their clubs entitling the bearer to free entry and/or a free drink once inside.  We would write the name ‘Bar Confusion’ on the back of the tickets and when handed over at the club they’d be counted up, so the club concerned could see which bars their customers were coming from.  This was good for us as we not only got free entry and access to the VIP bar/lounge inside, but also a free bottomless bottle of our choice of spirit behind the bar.  We would have a bottle of Smirnoff Red, (The real stuff) behind the bar and free pour our own drinks, marking the bottle with a black pen ensuring no one else touched it.  These freebies enabled me to invite scores of women to Es-Paradis or Star, showing off as I walked straight past the queues and into the VIP area.  To be handed a bottle of Smirnoff to give the girls free drinks all night long loosened quite a few pairs of knickers. 

June saw business picking up nicely with new groups of students coming into the bar saying that they’d been told to come to Bar Confusion by friends returning to University after their holidays.  I was “seeing” plenty of women and Dave christened me, “The Snoggo Kid”, on account of my eagerness to slap my lips onto the next pretty face showing even the slightest interest.  Rather than being frowned upon, fraternisation with customers was positively encouraged and I worked out a rotation system whereby I’d focus my attention on a girl who I knew was in the second week of a two week holiday, whilst simultaneously chatting up her replacement, who I’d ascertained was just starting the first week of her holiday. 

It was easy to spot the new arrivals as bright red sunburnt arms, shoulders and faces were more than apparent.  This juggling game was spiced up by my throwing in at least two or three one-night stands per week into the mix thereby risking the possibility of the girls all turning up to the bar at the same time, which happened once or twice much to Dave’s delight and to my initial embarrassment which soon turned to laughter.  On one occasion this was fortunately resolved to my advantage after one girl had stormed out and the other two got chatting, which resulted in a Ménage à trois, impressing both Dave and the regulars.  An un-written rule was that no one would denounce or embarrass another bloke whose wife, girlfriend or partner came out from the UK to see him.  There were a couple of girls who came back out to the island to see me and stay at my place after their initial holiday was over; for either a week or a long weekend.  During their stay no mention would be made of my antics in their absence or any comment made as to the girl’s motives or personality, an unwritten ‘club rule’ if you will.

With Dave’s “Bar Confusion Mix Tapes” attracting new and returning customers to the Bar we needed something else to ensure the student crowd chose Bar Confusion over the other numerous places in town for pre-rave drinks, so I invented my own brand of cocktails which proved to be the solution. Well the cocktails and my skill in delivering Tequila Slammers fast, and with minimal spillage.  The cocktails had to be different; original, exotic, eye catching, intoxicating (very) and appealing by name.  I decided against anything requiring the addition of a fruit garnish, (cherry’s, lemon slice, lime segment, raspberries, strawberries etc.) as it took time to add and mix. I was very mush against additional decorative flourishes such as Umbrella’s, whipped cream, stirring sticks etc. as they added to cost to serve and finally the cocktails wouldn’t require any special glassware such as a Martini Glass, again due to reduce cost. 

I started out with a single cocktail containing spirits on the shelf behind the bar, Brandy, Vodka, Gin, Crème de Menthe? (For colour obviously!)  Throw in Southern Comfort, Tequila and lemonade, although coke or OJ could be requested, (customers choice of mixer; I wasn’t bothered) and there was your basic Confusion Cocktail.  Not a particularly flavoursome mix I grant you and after drinking the first one I’d mixed by way of a taste test, both Dave and my words were “Oooh, ya bastard!”  So that one was named “The Bastard”.  The name written in white paint on the mirror behind the bar for all to see and it went down a treat with the customers who loved saying, “Two Bastards over here mate”.  My next trick was to swap out the Crème de Menthe for Blue Curacao along with adding another glug of Brandy and another of Vodka.  This was called, “The Fucking Bastard”.  

When asked why the extra expletive, I said that the additional shots would make that clear when drunk, which it blatantly did with, “That was a fucking bastard!” echoing around the bar.  This new beverage proved just as popular as its illegitimate little brother and so I branched out and within days along came, The Twat” and “The Wanker.”  Orders came thick and fast, shouts of “I’m a Bastard, she’s a Twat, he’s a Wanker and that guys a Fucking Bastard,” ensuring they got what they wanted and everyone knew where/who they were.  The fun both women and men got when ordering these drinks cannot be underestimated and once we became known for our music and cocktails we became very busy indeed.

I had wanted to go to Pikes Hotel, the location for the Club Tropicana video by Wham! so Dave and I drove up one Sunday afternoon.  In 1989 the car park in front was a dusty mix of sand and shingle lifting into the air like a swarm of mosquitos as our car skidded over the surface and came to a stop.  Once the dust had settled we walked toward the low level buildings built into the hillside and up a row of stairs and onto a patio, a large cabana suite to our right and the infamous Club Tropicana pool in front.  

We walked around the building to our left and toward the pool bar when a young guy in his early thirties approached and asked if he could help us.  He was Anthony (Dale) Pike, the son of Tony Pike, hotel owner, raconteur, party organiser and friend to the stars.  We told Dale who we were and that we were running Dave’s Confusion bar that summer and gained trust and friendship to a degree.  Dale welcomed us and Dave regaled Dale with tales of football as we sat at the bar and had a drink.  In return Dale recalled stories of the celebrities who had stayed there.  We talked about the Wham! video and my attempts to be a George lookalike.  Dale said that George would be staying at the hotel in June whilst performing at concerts in mainland Spain. 

I decided there and then that I’d get back to the hotel and try and meet George and as I was still a budding if unsuccessful songwriter figured he might like to record a song of mine, (you have to have a dream in this life and a dream bonded to unbridled confidence also helps, so much so that I carried my lyrics books with me everywhere just in case).  Back in town the tourist numbers were building and various friends of Dave’s began to show up at the bar including Keith Bertschin who had played alongside Dave at Norwich City Football Club.  He was now playing at Walsall FC and had bought almost the entire first team over for an end of season holiday.  Also in town were Rod, Ray and Danny Wallace, three brothers playing for Southampton FC, 

along with a few others Southampton FC players.  Dave decided to organise a game on the local pitch in San Antonio and most of the professionals agreed to have a game.  I was having problems with my back so agreed to referee the game and to make up the numbers a few lads on holiday were asked if they wanted to play alongside professional footballers and they all agreed (who wouldn’t?).

I am pretty sure anyone who has played football at any level has played on a pitch that lacked a certain something; was missing a few features that made it not quite the surface one would hope for.  In the case of San Antonio Town FC the missing features were; Grass, Lines marking the pitch, Nets in the goals and an absence of a flat surface.  What it did have was sun-baked hard clay, covered in sand and small stones and pockmarked with holes and cracks.  I wonder what the team managers would have said had they seen some of their million pound assets running around such an awful pitch?  The stars were split evenly between the teams and Dave decided his best position, seeing that he couldn’t run, was to stand in the centre circle and ping passes out to the wings and into the goal areas. 

I’d never seen Dave play before and watching him smack forty and fifty yard passes direct to feet was quite something.  The lads making up the numbers however were making certain that the professionals knew they were in a game and were sliding into tackles that would have someone in hospital had I not stopped the game.  Rod and Danny were enraged at the tackles and so I asked everyone to remember, especially those amateurs playing, that some people were putting their livelihoods at stake for what should have been a kick about.  All agreed to tone it down a tad and we started off again and once that tackles had stopped scything people down we had great time.  The heat was tremendous though and frequent stops for water were made with players simply walking off, grabbing a bottle and wandering back onto the pitch. I don’t remember the final score but know that we knocked it after an hour and all headed back to Confusion for beers and laughs, the professionals and amateurs getting along fine.

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