Friday, 19 March 2010

The Barmaid's Arms

What was a pub landlord doing at a Photography lecture? What was I doing, talking about arms and ‘pulling barmaids’, with a passing-nod to Rose Selavy’s ‘ready-mades’? After the lecture, in the bar (where else?), the pub landlord, stalks me - sweet-talks me - tells me I come over ‘all exotic’ – I’ve clearly got pulling-power: a cross between an oar and a mermaid. But I think he’s pulling my oar (leg) when he says, “Why didn’t I come and pull pints in his pub?” So I get an interview to be a barmaid.
The interviews were taking place the following morning, in a disused lido. Beer taps (and optics) had been installed on the walls (sides) of the dry pool. The idea being: the interviewees demonstrate their skill by slowly filling the dry pool with ale. But what does a girl wear to a job-interview in an empty swimming pool? Something that looks as dazzling dry as it does wet but can still leave an impression, when moist. The top also needs to double as a lifejacket in event of the interview going tits-up: “Not waving but pulling”. Either way: not drowning. I need to wear something attractive, eye-catching, and buoyant. The top can’t be too low-cut and has to show a bit of arm. No, what am I thinking: it has to show a lot of arm. And I know what you’re thinking: Shespy, your personal shopper, let Shespy choose your top. Shespy. Topshop. Wrong. A mistake. Shespy’s (own) tops are almost always very low-cut and the one’s that aren’t, are dangerously unbuttoned. No: even Ispy Shespy (in that way). Talking of tennis balls. I need false breasts and tennis balls float, as well as bounce.
Normally, I’m not the kind of man who’d steal women’s clothing off a washing. But I’ve never wanted be a barmaid before: I don’t know what normal is anymore. So when I spy this little sleeveless rhubarb and custard number flapping in the breeze, on a washing line, I was over the garden wall like a shot: “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”. 
And when I came across the dog-eaten innards of a pink tennis ball - washed-up on the beach – with a dash of pink fluff beautifully complementing the rhubarb and custard of the stolen top I’d just nicked – I had a breast to boot, and a buoyant one at that, albeit only one.
The interview got off to a good start: the pub landlord and a good-looking life were questioning me. I pulled a few pints into the empty lido. They were both wearing lycra shorts, and were clearly impressed by my wrist action. But as the beer rose up to my thighs, I found myself unprepared for their psychological approach: word-association: They said, “pull”. I said, “up”. They said, “bar”. I said, “dog-eaten tennis-bra”. They said, “lemon and lime”. I said, “washing line”. They said, “service”. I said, “tennis”. They said, “bitter”. I said, “tart”. They said, “mixer”. I said, “transvestite”. They said, “transparent-top” (the beer was up to my chest by now). I said, “vest”. They said, “Finger”. I said, “strength”. They said, “skirt”. I said, “length”. They said, “barmaid”. I said, “mermaid”. They said, “Rudolf Hesse”. I said, “cross-dress” (I wasn’t going to be tricked in to saying, SS). They said, “Spandau”. I said, “ballet”. They said, “prison”. “I’m too good looking”, I said. They said, “beer”. But I wasn’t going to be tricked by beer. So I said, “hunter”. They said, “cider”. I said, “straw”. They said, “pour”. I said, “oar”. They said, “Blouse”. I said, “big girl’s”. They said, “biceps”. I said “curls”. They said, “pub signs”. I said, “The Barmaid’s Arms”. They said, “barstools”. “I’d take no shit”, I said, “job”? They said, “it’s yours”. 

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