First up – it’s St. Patrick’s Day today – Sunday 17th March 2013… so Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!! It is an Irish Day of the year and is widely celebrated worldwide. I grew up in the town of Bangor, not too far away from where St. Patrick was buried in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. Now I have worked in Irish Pubs in 3 continents, drank in dozens of them and visited them almost every St. Patrick’s Day for a drink. Yes, I’m one of those ones who doesn’t mind succumbing to commercial tendencies once in a while. In 2011 I was working in PJ’s Irish Pub in Parramatta Australia. My shift that day could be split into three parts (I worked a 15 hour day would you believe – yes, I loved milking the money in the land down under.
Part 1 – 9am – 3pm – Overall stocking up the bars, keeping everything running smoothly in terms of deliveries etc.
Part 2 – 3pm – 5pm – Dressing as a pint of Guinness and ushering passers by into the pub, dancing with the Irish band dressed as a pint of Guinness and just generally being a pint of Guinness!! The bit I was surely looking forward to the most.
Part 3 – 6pm – midnight – Serving on the bar (in hindsight the best bit!).
So the shift begins and the crowds arrive and the pub gets busy. I’m dressed in green – a green hat, green and white face paint and my green Northern Ireland football shirt. The atmosphere is great but some of the tour groups who arrived are getting a bit rowdy. No problem there, I’ve been there and done that myself!
Then I go out the back and transform myself into a massive pint of Guinness. I’m loving it. I’m hugged and photographed by tons of customers, I’m up dancing with the band. A few of the drunk girls grab my crotch, a few of the drunk guys punch my stomach and try to lift me up. Still, all good natured.
Then Paul Devine, my manager, an Irishman and a top guy tells me to go out the front and do two things:
1. Get more customers!
2. Say goodbye to those leaving (a lot of whom were pretty damn drunk already)
So I’m doing that for over an hour and I’m still dressed as a Guinness pint and sweating. It gets hot under there!
Then I’m standing on the grassy bank in full view of rush hour traffic and locals when I suddenly go flying into the air! I land on my knees, grazed on the grass and as Elvis would say “I’m all shook up”. I have just been rugby tackled by a drunken Australian idiot!! I’m floored while others laugh. It was right at the end of my stint dressed as a Guinness Pint and everyone around is gathered round laughing! I’m not actually finding it funny in the slightest. None of my fellow staff actually noticed it. So I get up, head round the back of the pub, shocked and hot!
I get undressed quickly and back into my normal green attire and I go to the pub kitchen to eat with Charlotte Hall and Carla Said – I knew the staff very well in the pub. I worked there for 18 months, give or take a bit of nomadic globetrotting!
When I tell the story, nobody really knew about it, Carla Said was one of the managers on duty and even checked out if the footage had been caught on the pub outside camera. But I was out of shot so YouTube never got to see it, and neither did anyone else except for a few dozen drunk customers, some commuters in traffic and any passers by.
The saving grace for me was that while dressed as a pint of Guinness, nobody knew who I was – you are anonymous, you cannot be seen when you’re inside. So when hearing on the bar later how one of the customers saw a guy dressed as a Guinness pint being rugby tackled earlier, I didn’t raise an eyelid. Nobody except my fellow staff knew it was me.
“We’re one but we’re not the same” – Paul Hewson.
I continued to work, earning a load of decent tips and enjoying the night until my manager Jenny let me finish a wee bit before midnight so I could have my St. Patrick’s Day pint of Guinness. As you can probably tell I needed it. Believe me that pint of Guinness went down a treat!
And I had more than one, drinking with a few of my fellow staff, some Irish guys and a Scottish guy. I had forgotten about being rugby tackled and laughed about it! Alls well that ends well as they say, and another story for my “The Day I…” series on Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I’m a travelling Northern Irishman!!
A few videos from St. Patrick’s Day 2011 from working in PJs Irish Pub in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia:
The vibe at PJs Irish Pub Parramatta on St. Patrick’s Day 2011:
Partying after work at PJs Irish Pub Parramatta on St. Patrick’s Day 2011, with a pint of Guinness: