Saturday, August 15, 2009

Corcoran's St Michel

When I moved to the St Michel branch of Corcoran’s it was much better. The staff members were nicer, generally, and the bar was better organised and less frantic. Each night a bar crawl would come in at around 10:30 and for the next hour or two whoever was working behind the miniscule bar downstairs would be bombarded with orders for cocktails and pints, mostly from Americans and Australians. However, on the one occasion that I did the bar crawl, I was working with an Irish girl called Sheilan who was very funny and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

During my first few days I worked a variety of shifts. The Shift Manager during the day was an Australian guy called Matt. It seems to me that the service industry is mostly a pretence and generally there’s a lot of time when there’s very little to do, especially during the day, after lunch. As such, the one who is able to make himself look busy the most successfully will get on well in this sort of environment. However, I should admit that I am terribly lazy, particularly when I am not motivated. Despite this Matt had me cleaning every spec of brass in the entire pub. I didn’t mind this because it meant I could relax with my thoughts whilst I went about something that didn’t require any brain power. Along one side of the pub were French windows, each of these had a ledge between the inside window and the outside window that was made of brass and decorated with faux Irish ornaments. These hadn’t been cleaned in years and were black with grime. The windows themselves swung inwards and the first time I opened one with Matt watching I almost smashed one of the glass lamp shades hanging just next to the top of the window frame. Fortunately he was tall and caught it before it swung back and smashed to pieces. He left to run some errands and said to be careful of the lamps. Naturally I forgot all about it and 45 minutes later the annoying Irish girl who worked during the day came running over like a leprechaun to see what had happened after she had heard the glass raining down all over the bar and the terrace. She said we would tell Matt later but I think she forgot. The next day the shade was replaced and no more was said about it.

On one day shift I was cleaning the metal frames of the ‘fridges behind the bar. Matt came to give me a hand after an hour or so and we were chatting idly. He asked me what had bought me to Paris and I explained how difficult it was to find a job in London at the moment. He seemed oblivious to the world-wide recession and seemed surprised before asking me why. I stared at him for a moment to see if he was joking before, realising he wasn’t, I mumbled something about the credit crunch. He looked vague, said ‘oh’ and returned to his cleaning.

That evening an English couple came in. I served the man who wanted a pint of 1664 and a Gin Fizz for his wife. I was halfway through pouring his pint when he asked for a special, frosted glass he had caught sight of behind the bar. I duly transferred the beer over and continued pouring. Next I made his cocktail. As I handed it to him he looked down at it in amazement and explained that he couldn’t possibly have ice in it as his wife had just had an operation. I felt like saying that surely the 4cl of gin would prove more of a problem than four ice cubes but instead I removed them, topped up the cocktail and returned it to him.

I lasted a week here before being fired for being too slow. In France, once an employee has passed a month in employment it is very difficult for an employer to fire them – I like to think that they just didn’t want to take the risk with me, although, having said that, I probably was pretty shit. Anyway, I got paid for all my shifts and then left, happily, in the knowledge that never again would I have to sacrifice my Friday and Saturday nights, breathe the mushroomy smell of stale beer or make another Irish car bomb (Guinness with a shot of whiskey and Bailey’s dropped into it).

I do just want to mention my Manager though before I leave the topic of Corcoran’s altogether. The St Michel branch was run by Antoine and Sean. Antoine was a proactive, amiable, French guy who spoke good English. Sean was a fat, blistered, Irish guy who didn’t speak a word of French, did nothing behind the bar (even less than me in fact!) and constantly looked as though he were in the midst of a serious heart attack due to the pained expression he always wore. Sean was the manager and Antoine was the Assistant Manager. Antoine chatted away to me as any normal person would but, for the entirety of my time at St Michel, Sean did not say a word to me. We worked behind the same bar and passed each other a hundred times a night but he would not speak. How he ever got to be Manager of the place is a mystery. As you can imagine I left without saying goodbye to him.


  1. Mec,
    Great little blog you've got going here!
    Really loving reading your stuff so far.
    Are you finding it rewarding?
    Looking forward to the next entry.
    From one blogger to another, much respect.

  2. I know who broke the bloody lampshade now! Just so you know I had to walk miles in Paris to find the replacement for it! Not surprised they didn't keep you after a month. For those wondering... Antoine replaced Sean who returned to Belfast his home town. I wish him well and hope his life and health improve.