I worked a 12-hour Squirrel’s shift and this is how it went
From noodle-filled vomit to twelve j-bombs in a row (or more realistically the other way round)
Freshers religiously flock to Squirrels as soon as they land in Fallowfield. Known for its absurdly cheap drinks and 42s-esque playlist, it is arguably the best pub in Fallowfield. Across the 12-hour period when it opens its doors, you can see every type of student; from the Hockey and Lacrosse teams to the person drowning their sorrows after a slightly less than successful mid-term exam (it’s first semester of first year – you’ll be fine).
In my pursuit to become Owens Park’s answer to Louis Theroux, I ventured down to Squirrel’s for a day of observations (and what a cheap yet entertaining day it was).
It’s half an hour before Saturday’s early football kick-off, and 40 mullets wearing retro Arsenal shirts form a wall at the bar, desperate for a pint of Heineken to get over last night’s craaaazy antics. We get it – you can afford the extra £1.25 so you can avoid a Foster’s.
The first food orders come in – Squirrel’s now do food?
Half-time rolls around and the wall builds itself back up again. Everyone is slightly louder now as the Heineken and empty stomach combination results in them already feeling slightly pissed before 2 pm. Murmurs of the 4 for £5 j-bombs creep into earshot.
The North London massive have long gone, probably to either Friendship or back to Unsworth Park to get some much needed food and sleep before the Peggy Gou Warehouse Project tonight. The Squirrel’s staff set up camp in the office behind the bar and the place is silent apart from Naive by The Kooks blasting out.
This is when it gets interesting. A mix of 5-a-side football teams enjoying a post-game pint, 5:30 football kick-off fans and people starting pre’s far far too early. But we’ve all been there – so no judgement.
Admittedly I wasn’t here for this, but I stumbled across a video on Twitter of Squirrel’s customer James Donnan downing three pints of Guinness and 12 J-bombs at 4pm to try and win a give-away – it felt rude not to give them a mention. I asked him for a comment and here’s what he had to say:
“I felt quite confident having done 10 sambuca’s and 10 Jagerbombs before. It felt quite hard hard halfway through but then got asked to down 3 pints, and felt like Guinness was the only way to go as a proud Irishman. I powered through the first two but had to run to the bathroom during the third. I found out I placed second overall and won £80 and rang my dad immediately. I think it was the proudest he’s ever been of me.”
This is when Squirrel’s really comes into its own. A cascade of parachute pants, baggy jeans and the occasional PLT dress make their way in. The drinks are flowing, Not Nineteen Forever is blasting out and your mate has already asked for a pint of water at the bar (alongside a green monster). The vodka-lime-soda girls and the signet ring and Schöffel boys might not be here yet – but they will be when the Echo falls has been finished at the pre-pres.
The girls toilet has inevitably blocked, the smoking area floor is covered with ‘fizz and rizz’, and the girl from South London very vocally cannot find her baccy. The pool tables are covered in 50ps, the staff are working at double speed behind the bar to keep up with the 3 for £10 Long island Ice teas and the doormen have started a queuing system to get in.
Conversations on the floor range from how much the gap year has changed their outlook on life, someone desperate for a Factory ticket, and somehow a retro Arsenal shirt is still in the same seat, telling everyone about just how good of a signing Ben White has been – regardless of if they’re listening. The side-room is being used, and although it is freezing in there, the alcohol keeps everyone warm.
Someone’s been sick in a pint glass. The smoking area is overflowing with loose game. A few of the early starters have already left for the club, others have decided maybe tonight’s not their night and trundled back home instead. Tiki-fire shots have been taken by some of the braver fresher’s, shocked at how its not actually *that* bad to drink. The glasses are now the re-usable plastic ones, and although they’re occasionally a bit warm and not exactly brand-new, no one minds because its a £3.30 double. There’s still someone drinking Guinness, seemingly stone-cold sober even though they’re five pints deep.
The staff want to go home, the doormen want to go home, the only people who don’t are the ones who’ve decided to abandon any other plans and wait until they have to leave. The conversations are now what you’d expect them to be after too many hours of drinking – telling each other just how lucky you are to have them as flatmates or proposing a last minute visit to 256. The rest are having an important debate – can we afford a kebab?