Low life

My glimpse into the brotherhood of bouncers

Trev always stops and has a fraternal chat with the lads

1 August 2015

9:00 AM

1 August 2015

9:00 AM

After Trev had mugged the mugger in the toilet we moved quickly on to another club. The Double O is frankly a horrible place, but it stays open later than any of the others, and is only a bracing ten-minute walk along the seafront. As was usual on the walk between Mandy’s and the Double O, salt air plus who knows how many house doubles equalled intoxication squared. Halfway there I took off my cashmere and silk charity-shop pullover and gave it to Trev to put on to hide the bloodstains on his shirt. It was several sizes too small for him and he needed my help getting into it. We tried to get his head into an armhole for a long time before realising our mistake. From a distance it must have looked like we were having a set-to. We got his head through the correct opening at last, then I had to stretch the fabric to nearly breaking point to get it over his shoulders and his barrel of a torso.

Trev is on good terms with the doormen at the Double O. In his younger days he used to work on the doors and he has always been proud of that. He has a fund of anecdotes. Their moral is usually that the work of a doorman is basically pacifism tempered by thuggery. Because the Double O stays open later than anywhere else, the people who go there are drunker and more prone to violence than anywhere else we go, and the bouncers bouncier. We like going there very much. Before we go in, Trev always stops and has a fraternal chat with the lads and tells them that if they need a hand at any point to give him a shout.

As we approached the squalid doorway in the parade of shops that is the club’s only entrance, we saw that tonight it was being supervised by three bouncers. ‘Look at them,’ said Trev. ‘Tweedledum, Tweedledee and Tweedletwat.’ A kind of hellish pandemonium reigned on the pavement outside the club and in the road. Police were bundling a struggler into the back of a van. The doormen had a full-time job controlling the crowd of drunks wanting to get in, while letting out those inside who wanted to come out to smoke.

But when we applied to them for admission, Trev, as a recognised former member of the local doorman community, and wearing a silk and cashmere V-necked jumper that was beyond skintight, barely reaching his navel and on back to front, it was all brotherly love and hipster handshakes. Then he took one of the bouncers aside and had a word in the guy’s Cro-Magnon-size ear. ‘Me and Jerry here have just come from Mandy’s,’ he yelled above the tumult, which included female screams, ‘and we’ve had a bit of trouble.’

The bouncer was listening but staying on his mettle. His gimlet eyes were darting hither and thither. Here the eyes flickered quickly over me and for a brief moment his expression of stern vigilance softened to something between irony and surprise. Trev explained to him what had happened to his phone and to the bloke who had tried to steal it. ‘So if you see a bloke trying to get in here with the end of his nose looking a bit chewed,’ he said, ‘or with a bandage on it, and he looks seriously upset, don’t let him in. Because if he comes in, it’s going to seriously kick off in there, and you look like you’re busy enough already.’

The doorman’s eyes were elsewhere, but he was interested — or at least half interested — in what Trev was saying. He wasn’t surprised however. Biting off the tips of other people’s noses might not be cricket, his barely perceptible nods of understanding seemed to be saying, but very often one was left with little or no alternative. Finally Trev gave him a description of the guy. The doorman thanked him for the helpful warning. That was Trev all over, I thought, to present a boast as a helpful warning.

The doorman motioned to another gorilla standing just inside that Trev and I could go through without paying at the ticket window. The Double O is nothing more than a long, seedy bar with a raised wooden dance floor at the end. It’s an evil place but the music’s great. I went straight on to the packed dance floor and asked the DJ if he had any Rod Stewart and he said he’d have a look. Then Trev came on to the dance floor looking panic-stricken. ‘Dude — where’s my phone?’ he shouted. I told him to go away. He laughed in my face. Then he let his head drop and did his dead crow on a gamekeeper’s gibbet swinging in the wind dance.

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  • blandings

    “Then he let his head drop and did his dead crow on a gamekeeper’s gibbet swinging in the wind dance.”

    Been trying for half an hour – can’t be done.
    Wife looked worried and offered me a cup of tea.