Monday, 13 October 2008

Claim to Fame

They’d already barred me before, the twats. All I’d done was resign. But I’d not even waited for the three-month bar to lift. I’d just walked back in about 6 weeks after leaving. I even shook the doorman’s hand on entry.

The staff in Baa Bar, even the managers, seemed so jaded by everything. The week before, twenty-or-so gangster wannabes were beating the shit out of each other outside the entrance with the majority of customers watching through the immense glass doors. Every night the obligatory puke king (or queen) slipped in their own vomit in the staircase, which only heightened the sickening level of pretence held by the customers despite the fact that they were paying a pound a time for a shot with hardly any alcohol in. All of this played out between the exposed brick walls and beneath twenty rotating disco balls, scattering blotches of light in every direction and heightening the effects of the cheap drink. There are a lot of distractions. Who can blame the doormen for letting me back in again? I still don’t know why they bothered to bar me.
We’d sat down on these poofs, watching women get drunk and opportunities pass us by. But when someone passed me by a bit too closely, it wasn’t a woman. It was a man. A big, black man. He’d caught himself on my toe, stumbling forward for a second.

I gulped. I saw what this looked like. I could tell, however, that he did not. I held my hands up in confused apology. He leaned into me until I could see every angry feature in his face.


His fingers hit my cheek lightly. A man like that could have ripped my head off in a second, and probably thought nothing of it. He might not even remember it in the morning. I watched him traipse off to the bar.

Paralysing fear was still eminent behind Toby’s eyes. But the fear I felt had morphed into something else. Anger. Disgust. Who the fuck was that? In this bar, I thought, no scally gives me shit. No matter how big they are.

I got out of my seat.

“I’m not standing for that,” I said, and marched to the door.

Ben was on security- a guy more-or less my age but twice my size. I told him what had happened and he called his team mate over.

“’Ave a mooch around for him,” said the man, who must have been edging on the minimum weight requirement for a doorman. “Tell me what he looks like, and I’ll throw him out.”

I found the guy propping up the corner of the bar. He was less discreet than he was clearly hoping, standing in front of a giant poster featuring a multicoloured alcoholic shot.

Good, I thought. You waste a few extra quid. Let’s see it all kick off now.

I backed off to the doormen.

“He’s big, he’s black, he’s bald,” I said. I was starting to sound like Bret, the victim of the hitmen in Pulp Fiction. “And he’s wearing a long-sleeve, dark green t-shirt with little holes in it. He’s at that corner of the bar.” I pointed.

I waited in the middle of the bar with Ben as the other doorman pushed his way to the corner. After reaching the individual, it was obvious from the doorman’s face that he had begun to administer a fair bollocking to said scally. This was despite the fact that he towered a full head over the doorman.

I couldn’t help but think: where do people get the balls to act like that- to take the risk of getting filled in without even showing a glimmer of weakness or fear? Doormen must possess something that removes the thought of defeat from their minds- to solve a problem, regardless of risk.

Whatever it is they have, it works. The scally didn’t even argue. He put down the bottle that he’d only just been served, and walked out past me on his own. He didn’t glance at me as he walked out, but I watched him walk down onto the street and disappear from view. I didn’t fancy being thrown into the canal by some angry meathead.

The doormen were also monitoring his departure, but there was something I’d missed in all of this- some extra nougat of curiosity that the doormen were chewing over.

The doorman who spoke to him came back to me.

“Do you know who he was?”

“Nope,” I said, “Never seen him before.”

“He’s Trevor Sinclair. He plays for England.”

I could practically feel the comedy cash signs appearing in my eyeballs. I tried to stay calm.

Let’s not jump to conclusions, I thought. It might not be him. I might not be able to sue the shit out of him, or get my name in the paper. But I’m damn well going to try. Fucking footballers.

Toby had already texted Stu, our seemingly agoraphobic housemate, with our involved level of celebrity happenings. From the confines of his safe, comfortable room, Stu replied simply-

“Bollocks mate. Trevor Sinclair plays for West Ham.”

He could be right, I thought. West Ham is a 200-mile trek from Manchester.

I tried to cast my mind back to the footage of the World Cup in Japan the year before. I’d actually watched every England game, including their inevitable defeat at the hands of Brazil in the quarterfinals. It was the only time I’d ever paid any attention to football.

He wasn’t big enough to be Emile Heskey, but Sinclair? Maybe, from what I could remember.
We had caused enough trouble in the short space of time we’d been in the bar. It was time to
make our own exit.

I shook Ben’s hand. “Thanks for the help tonight, mate,” I said.

“No problem. Seriously mate. Go to the press. You’ll make a fucking mint.”

“Will do.”

Fear. Disgust. Surprise… and now anticipation. What a night.

I kept checking over my shoulder as I walked back to the flat. The last thing I wanted was to be jumped by some angry A-list footballer with a vendetta. The first thing I wanted was to laugh myself to sleep.

The next day I dragged Toby down Deansgate to the offices of the Manchester Evening News, as my witness. I was put in touch with Nicola Dowling, a journalist who told me she would try to find out where Trevor Sinclair was last night. In the reception area of the M.E.N, I fed her the details of the night.

Like most journalists Ms Dowling was somewhat of a law expert.

“I obviously can’t phone Trevor Sinclair,” she said, miming holding a phone, “and say, ‘Oh, hello Mr. Sinclair. You wouldn’t happen to have been in Baa Bar last night, would you?’ ‘cause he isn’t going to want to talk to me. So I’m going to have to do some sneaking around. The bar won’t want to talk to me, ‘cause that would be bad publicity for them. So I’m going to have to do some sneaking around. But I’ve got your details, and I’ll be in touch.”

I felt slightly unnerved- not at the thought of getting Trevor Sinclair angrier, but because I’d been given another snapshot of the working world of media. I knew that my uni course, Media Production, was not preparing me for anything as professional as this.

And that’s as far as it went. Because of the aforementioned legal issues, the article remained unpublished. Sorry Ms Dowling, I’ve potentially plagiarised your work here. But as Doctor Alban would say, it’s my life.

I never found out for sure whether the culprit really was Trevor Sinclair, although Sinclair himself allegedly pulled out of a training session the next day due to injury…

1 comment:

Chrissy Brand said...

OMG! Fascinating and scary.