Monday, April 17, 2006


A delightful evening

Those of you who don't know me may not be aware that I'm a member of St. John Ambulance, and thus choose to spend my spare time wearing bizarre uniforms, alternating between total boredom and frantic periods of tending to the needs of the sick, injured, irritating and just plain abusive. And not getting paid for it, unlike others who do it for a living.

Obligatory disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and are in no way representative of St. John Ambulance or any of the organisations who book St. John Ambulance to provide First Aid services

Right, disclaimer over, time to spill the beans on a particularly lovely night at a local nightclub's under-18's event. The exact purpose of these club nights is a bit vague, I don't know whether it is to create a steady stream of new customers when they turn 18, provide an alternative to trying to get into 'adult' nights, or simply get customers into the club on a sunday night when adults wouldn't be interested. If it's for the money, the profits aren't likely to be on the soft-drinks-only bars. The cloakroom does a roaring trade however, and the 2,000 tickets at up to £10 each always sell out.
Whatever the reasons for holding these events, one thing appears to be generally agreed between management, security, police and St. John members who attend: it's a hassle.

Teenagers, being teenagers, like to think they're grown up, and so some try to drink alcohol before getting into the venue.
Here for your perusal, a series of vignettes...

Customer, aggrieved "I don't understand why I'm here, I ain't done nuffink!"
Manager, calmly "The door staff believe you're intoxicated, and so we're not letting you into the club"
C "But I ain't done nothing!"
M "We believe you've been drinking"
C "But I got ready at home. My mum gave me a lift here. How would I have been drinking?"
M "You're going to have to go home. Can I have your parent's telephone number?"
C "No, I paid ten pounds for this ticket!"
M "We can do this one of two ways. Either you give me a number for one of your parents, and I call them to take you home, or I call the police"
C: "They ain't at home, they're picking me up at midnight"
M, to radio: "Karen, can you call the police for this young lady?"
C: "My mum's mobile is..."
M, smiling, to radio: "Karen, cancel that call" Switching attention to customer: "What's that number?"

This exchange is usually repeated three or four times per evening, and takes the best part of ten minutes to extract the parental number, like a dentist attacking a well-rooted tooth.

The reason we get to hear these converstaions is that the customers who are refused admission are transferred to the First Aid room and left in our care whether alcohol has made them obviously unwell or not. During the ten minutes or so it can take for club management to get round to sorting them out, delightful conversations take place, during which at all times we remain tight-lipped, professional, and try to avoid smirkign at all costs. Diagnosis: verbal diarrohea

Girl 1: "I don't even know why we've been put in here. I haven't drunk anything"
Girl 2: "I don't drink not since I got alcohol poisoning, I can't drink!"
1: "Yeah, thass right, she can't drink!"
2: "So why we been put in here?"
Johnnies: *shrug*
2: "Last time we was 'ere I pulled 52 blokes. I'm wasting valuable time in here!"
1: "She did you know"
1: "I only had a sip to drink, I'm not drunk"
2: "Do you think we're drunk? After a sip? We're not drunk"
Johnnies: "Not our decision. Just stay calm when they come to talk to you."
1: "It was only three sips, that's not going to get us drunk. I drink far more than that normally"
2: "Just a bottle of WKD"
1: "We've been drinking vodka"
2:"But we're not drunk!"

Always the same pattern... denial, admission, and then full-blow account of the full total and type of alcohol. Always useful to know if they then choose to become unwell or unconscious, or simply start vomiting, at which point we start taking interest in them as patients.
If it sounds like a south east Vicky Pollard written down, it's even worse in the flesh - with elements of Catherine Tate's Lauren [Am I bovvered?], and all wrapped in a skimpy strappy/spangly top and miniskirt combo.

The standout 'customer' of last week came in quite clearly the worse for wear, and tottering about on a pair of heels. She slao brought in a serious attitude problem with her.
The doorstaff asked her to sit down
Customer "I'm not drunk! This is me normal!"
Bouncer: "Well, if that's you normal then I suggest you see a doctor, as that is definitely not normal"
C: "I'm fine!"
B: "No you're not"
C: "I'm dyslexic!!"
B: "You may be dyslexic but you're also drunk"
We decided at this point to go out and 'get dyslexic' on a Friday night in the near future

This particular individual didn't exactly endear herself to us when within 20 minutes of this exchange she proceeded to violently throw up on the floor, and then wipe her mouth on the sleeve of my colleague's jacket. Nice. He's not leaving that within a casualty's reach again.

Oh well, all in an evening's work. None of the intoxicated minors got arrested or threatened self-harm, so that makes a change from the last one we went to.
Another duty tomorrow, just a football match, so usually predictably boring... but these things are never predictable, and that's why I like it.

All the individuals mentioned above were handed over to the care of their parents. Some may be amalgamations of several similar characters we saw that evening. This post does not represent the views of anyone except the writer.

Funny. Isn't it great how these 'little dears' are being encouraged to 'flourish' in the outside world.
Whats probably even funnier is that we stick around and pass time watching them do it (not literally i hasten to add!)
The Chinese have a curse

...may you live in interesting times...

thought of it when I stumbled on your blog.
Hi David

I do it voluntarily as well as getting paid for it - I must be mad! hehe.

Thanks for the link
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