47. Rats, Cops & Guns… The Trent Dream Ends in Jan 2009
The 25 year itch
Having worked there since 1984, we decided to give up the lease on the Trent in January 2009.
As you may have read further back in our long history, it had been a fab little power base for us for the last 25 years.
But we only ever leased it & as there was no opportunity for us to buy it, we had to let it go.
The Brewery we had worked with on it for so long, Scottish & Newcastle had become more distant, as they were taken over by the gigantic international brewer Heineken.
Things changed a lot in that quarter of a century.
The Trent was a full time job & we just reached a point where we felt like we were working for the parent company instead of ourselves.
Brewery personnel changed time & time again & to get anything done was just taking so long, it was starting to detract from what we were doing at WHQ.
Since we didn’t own the Trent & just leased it in 3 year rolling chunks, we had no investment in it, beyond our obviously strong emotional attachment & the time we’d spent there.
The deep emotional attachment we had developed to it over the years started to fade, as we realised the Brewery were now exploiting that love & taking us for granted.
As our original Brewery was now owned by a massive foreign brewer, we lost all our cool contacts within the local company & we became isolated.
People from S&N had to reapply for their own jobs & suddenly no one was ever available, to do anything you needed the Brewery as the landlord, to sort out.
Hi, we’re thinking of moving in..?
Building work in the area unsettled the land nearby & rats moved from there, into the unkempt land at the side of the Bar.
After a while they even started coming inside the Bar when we were open & customers were there.
We had always seen the odd rat over the years. As we were right on the border of Leazes Park, seeing one scuttle past outside as you locked up at night was no big deal, it was just nature.
This was different though. These were big, big lads, from the drains, not the Park. Despite numerous calls to the Brewery, to try get them to clear out the area they were in & lay traps, we had no luck.
We weren’t the landlord, so legally we couldn’t force a clean up of the land. But as the landlord wasn’t responding to us, what were we to do..?
In an age of camera phones, it only takes one of these fellas to scuttle across the floor when you are open & next thing, your Bar is front page of the Chronicle & you are out of business.
You can’t sleep properly at night, when you know you have rats somewhere, that you love as much as we loved the Trent.
Thinking about them drives you nuts & you are constantly worried in case something crazy happens & they pop out in front of customers.
Also, the longer they are hanging around, the cockier they get & as they are rodents too, unsurprisingly, they do actually breed like rabbits…
We were mad busy with WHQ & didn’t have time to constantly chase the Brewery dudes.
The parent company was now so large, that a Bar the size of the Trent simply didn’t seem to matter to them anymore.
They were a brewer that brewed internationally & there really wasn’t any reason for them to be arsed about a tiny outlet like the Trent House, that they’d just inherited in a company takeover.
Rats in a bar are a proper pisser…
We had been infested once before, in the late 1980s & they were a mare to get rid of. You can’t lay poison for them, as if they die under the floorboards, they will stink the whole place out as they decompose.
The only two options you have is to trap them or shoot them & we do realise that at this point, this is all getting a little bit grim…
But it all opens out later & has a happy ending, so try to stick with it readers – deep breaths…
So begins the hunt…
We decided shooting was the way forward, as endless attempts to trap them had failed.
They are really clever creatures, our rodent chums & they were far too smart for all that trap caper.
So we had to go in at 6.00 am every morning to try to shoot them, with a top of the range air pistol we bought.
This went on for weeks, the death toll slowly rose & all our calls to the Brewery to do something about it fell on deaf ears.
We don’t like killing animals, even rats.
It’s a nightmare for your karma (& the rat) & having to do this nonsense pissed us off immensely.
Weeks later & we snapped & threatened to drive up to the Brewery’s head office in Edinburgh (Hiss..!) & throw our rat corpses on the MD’s desk if they didn’t finally do something about it.
No more excuses, no more broken promises of tomorrow. They knew we weren’t kidding & only then, did they eventually get a pest controller to sort them out & cleared the wasteland next to the Bar.
All gone within a week or so. It had been yet another Trent related irritating pain in the bott, but it was over now.
Or so we thought…
Shooting rats isn’t easy. It should really be called, sitting around half asleep, trying to stay awake, waiting for rats, as that’s what you mainly have to do.
Anyway, with the last rat dead & the infestation all sorted, we drove home, half asleep after the final dawn hunt & accidentally, left the air gun in the glove box of the car.
We woke up later, got on with Club stuff & just totally forgot about it.
About a week later we put our car into a garage for a routine service & when we went back to collect it we were met by armed police.
They went on, the way armed police are prone to, just like on the telly, all shouty & all ‘GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES…!!! NOW…!!!!!! etc
Soon they had us spread out on the ground, in the middle of the road in Heaton at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
We had numerous guns pointing at our head & there was no chance of them listening to reason anytime soon.
Old Biddys were shuffling by, thinking we must be Osama Bin Laden, or ordinary everyday people, trying to live a normal life in Ferguson USA, or perhaps just some totally innocent Brazilian chap… It was surreal.
When we were finally able to talk them down, we explained why, due to the rats in our Bar, there was a gun in the car.
We also pointed out that despite the fact, it might have looked like a firearm, it was actually just a high powered air gun & totally legal.
Well you can imagine the lecture they gave us & let’s face it – they did have a major point – legal or not it had been a daft thing to do to forget it & leave it in the car & this whole lark, was rapidly headed towards Fawlty Towersville.
So, the whole sorry episode was a major butt pain & no matter what anyone says, it isn’t like in the movies.
When the cops point loaded guns at you – Surprisingly, you don’t jump up & suddenly go all ‘Jackie Chan’
What you do is you freak out & are terrified… Simples.
Even more so, if you’ve not slept properly for days, because you have been on ‘rat stake-out’.
The Epiphany moment…
We went home & were giving it, ‘You’ll never guess what just happened…’ to one of our people & she said – ‘Why don’t you just get rid of that Bar? It’s too much hassle’.
At that moment we realised we had lost all perspective on this situation weeks ago.
What were we even thinking, sat at 6.00 am hunting rodents like a totally sleep deprived loon..?
A totally sleep deprived loon in love with a pile of bricks & cement that they have to pay rent for..?
Huh..?! Why hadn’t we just hired in rodent operatives & withheld the amount of their bill from our next rent payment?
Hang on a minute… Actual loaded guns..?! In love with a Bar…?!! On your knees..?!!
In love with a Bar..?!! Lying spread eagled in the road at tea time…?!! Err..
The next day we handed in our notice at the Trent House. We were done with it. The love affair was (very nearly ) over.