Cloud – R.W.

Do you know
How soft I feel
Gentle and warm
Wrapped in a cloud
Except not a cloud
This is much cosier than a cloud
Pyjamas and blanket soft on my skin
Fresh out the shower
After the longest of weeks
The softeness a cloud
Could only dream of
Of the content I feel right now
As I dose watching the sun dance
Outside my window

Staffing Crisis – R.W.

Scrolling but not reading
As job ads sail past
Ships unsuited to your crew
A while now we’ve been stuck at sea
Unmoored in a vast ocean of change
After campaigns to retrain
To a more sustainable career
Theres still a need for the old ways
Sails to be hoisted
And decks to be scrubbed
Maybe not the career of a pandemic
But a key worker none the less
An employment crisis
Where the assumption is
There’s plenty more fish in the sea
Yet the harsh reality
Is we’ve over fished
To near extinction
With prices too dear to obtain
The few that chose to remain 

Man Up

In all the years and various stints I’ve done in the bar I keep returning to. As much as the teams changed and dynamics have backflipped.  One thing has remained constant. The idea that I should be a man.

Not me personally but someone doing my job with the experience I have typically is male. This comes in subtle forms such as the memes of bartenders plastered on the staff room wall all being blokes. And less subtle by the colleagues I have worked along side for years still attributing my specific product knowledge to my boyfriend who they have never worked with.

Mens work is a phrase that gets thrown around more than I’m comfortable with. Everything from getting ice to the less pleasant cleaning jobs. All things I’ve always done as a routine part of my job. I learnt long ago if I wanted to be taken seriously, mens work was a phrase I could not only not use but not be seen to let others use as a reason to do or not to do something.

Maybe I’m just bitter, or maybe I’m tired of being branded as less. Tired of jokes being made when I set up the shift with a girl only bar about it being a weaker team when in comparison to the men scheduled at the same time, the difference favours the women.

Cinderella – R.W.

Cinderella never set out to rule
She wasn’t even trying to get her birth right back
Cinderella didn’t know she was going to meet the Prince
All she wanted was to be equal
A seat at the table
She worked hard to get there
Made everything from scratch herself
Cinderella didn’t ask for half the things she got
She fought for equal rights
Aimed for the stars but got the universe
Her desire , drive and hard work
Gave her so much more than she ever believed she could have 

Interesting Times – R.W.

May you live
In interesting times
Has felt more like a curse
This past year
Than a blessing
Don’t get bored
Or stagnant
The sentiment addresses
Young people
Wishing they were born
Generations earlier
Well now we’ve lived
Through interesting times
And now we understand
Why entire nations
Have fought to not 

Imposter Syndrome in Bartending

This industry that many of us have fallen in love with is riddled with university dropouts and suffers of ill mental health. As I tick both boxes, through a troubled struggle with my own expectations and an attempt to realise what it is exactly that I want to achieve I have decided that neither of these things is a bad thing nor should they count against me.

For a start this means I’ve chosen to do this, the late nights, doubling back and AFDs. Simply because I love it and wouldn’t have it another way. I went to university in the first place because thats what everyone was doing, it was expected. I chose a subject I was vaguely good at that later it turned out I hated. I started in hospitality entirely by accident and honestly so did nearly everyone else I know who is pursuing this as a career. I have friends with degrees, one particularly close friend has a first class masters in Biochemistry but instead of curing cancer or whatever real job society considers he should be pursuing, he spends his work life running masterclasses for hen parties and just having a bloody good time. The advantage to not having necessarily intended this as a career means we have been sucked in and enjoy it enough to stick around. It offers a flexibility that many other profession’s cannot offer.

The draw of hospitality while temporary to some, filling gap years or generating income for the nights out while studying, for others, myself included, creates this unique space. Its one where its OK (with some obvious law or practical experience exceptions) to not have the credentials on paper, to not have a diploma or BSc in the area you are applying to. There is always someone on hand willing to show you the ropes, build you up and furnish you with the knowledge and skills you need for the job at hand. As long as you want to learnn and are up front and honest about what you do or don’t know, I have never met a group of people as keen to force all their knowledge on you as bartenders are.

It offers a body of people who no matter how many times per shift they say they ‘f**king hate people’ actually really care about them. Intrinsically they want to listen, to understand and more than anything to make people happy. No one goes to a bar to intentionally have a terrible time. To individuals like me who suffer greatly from stress and ever present depression, its an escape and a support system all in one. I go to work and am surrounded by people who care and we get so wrapped up in creating a good time both for those of us working and our guests visiting that more often than not it helps alleviate whatever is bothering me.

Personally, I’ve never achieved anything. I’m not a great bartender but boy do I love it. Ive won no competitions, nor even actually entered any as I’m not sure where I’d start or even if I want to. And while I love drinking in local indies my career is considerably more corporate. I realise to many people that makes me not a real bartender. But what is a real bartender?

When I first chose hospitalty over completing my degree, I struggled a large part with imposter syndrome. I didn’t belong in this world of men making fancy drinks with rare spirits. I kept trying to find venues that were more credible in the industry circle while still catering to my ‘I just want going to work to be fun’ work ethic. Honestly all this achieved was a patchy CV. At some point I just gave up and started going for jobs I fancied.
Even then I still failed to find somewhere I was comfortable. Five years on and I’ve come full circle, I’m now back at the venue I left for feeling like it wasn’t cool enough, as a bartender just having fun. At the end of the day, what im trying to achieve is to enjoy going to work each day. As long as that’s happening, who cares what anyone else thinks?

Saturday Morning on the Cycle Path – R.W

Run 

I tell myself

You’ll feel better 

I tell myself

Against the grain

After the Friday night bar close

Tired already

Let alone the fight against the wind

A stream of people pass me

The girl who looks like she runs to post sweaty selfies

The middle aged man trying to get fitter as age and lifestyle catch up

The soldier, or so I presume, everything square and uniform from his hair through expression to movement, precise and determined he presses on

It seems everyone comes here

On a Saturday morning

For the same reason as me

Maybe I’m not so special after all

Thoughts About Race – R.W

Driving home from an overly busy city centre
The hustle and bustle fresh in my mind
It wanders off
Like an unattended child at the park
It occurs to me I am lucky
There’s a lot I get to do
Choose to do
Because of the colour of my skin
Where I was born
And who to
When I fight for equal rights
I get to choose that
I choose the fight
It’s not forced upon me
A matter of survival
I am one of the lucky ones
When I consider
How I will be treated in the workplace
Even as a woman
Will I be friend
Or foe?
The fear is not being able to get a foot in the door
A seat at the table
It is how welcome I will be
Once I’m there
This makes me one of the lucky ones
And responsible
For holding the door open from the inside
So others can join me

A Whisper of a Maybe – R.W

A reputation
And connotation
For women being silly
Pitting themselves against each other
Rather than supporting to grow stronger

What if it’s not always that?
What if a whisper of a maybe
A chance on a promise
Is the reassurance needed
To put strength into our minds
That maybe everything is alright