Flatmate Friday – Tom
Mixology and Moving Out with Thomas Fletcher-Wilson (the Third)
PV: Hello Tom!
PV: Hello and welcome to the last Flatmate Friday of the year because.. on Friday (when this goes up), we will be moving into our new house! Let’s get started. What do you do at Queen Mary?
Tom: I study Geography with Business Management. I used to want to go into renewable energy production, but since coming to University my horizons have been broadened and so now I’m not really too sure.
PV: Why did you choose to come to London?
Tom: First, it was far away from home, and I didn’t see the point in going somewhere close to home because I wanted to experience somewhere new. Queen Mary accepted me, so I thought that was alright.
PV: Good! One of the things I’ve found pretty different about London is the massive amount of diversity here, which I just don’t see in my home town.
Tom: Yeah, well considering I was strongly racist when I came here… [laughs] don’t put that in!
PV: I will! If you say it it’s going in!
Tom: [laughs] Nooo, I jest. Um, it is a bit different, coming from a very rural area, London is much more ethically diverse than rural Leicestershire, where I’m pretty sure rabbits are considered a different ethnicity, and that’s about as diverse as it gets. [laughs]
PV: So, what are we doing on Friday?!
Tom: [unenthusiastically] We are moving to a new house. [I grin at him manically until he adds, with even less enthusiasm] which we’re all so excited about.
PV: Yayy! And what are you most looking forward to about moving?
Tom: just getting your own space in a new community, so you’re not just stuck around students all the time. My room I’m probably going to keep pretty much the same, probably a bit tidier! I think we’re gonna make a little bar down in the cellar too which will be good, I can do some of my mixology and experimenting with stuff – if I can finally find some funds to buy the alcohol!
I’ve also got the idea of starting to flavour my own vodka, just for fun. I’ll see how it goes and then I thought it would be a good way to do presents for people. The first one I’m going to do is apples, pears and cinnamon. Because the bar I work at is called ‘Apples and Pears’ and I’ll do that, see how they like it and maybe it will be put on the shelf, or maybe it will just be a nice present for Reggie [Tom’s Boss] and that lot.
PV: That would be so cool. So, you work at Apples and Pears now, which is basically on Brick Lane, and you’ve been working there five or six months now – have you always been a barman?
Tom: Officially, yes, but I did some garden maintenance for a while which was good. It was hard work and very tasking on the body. We got paid by the amount of houses we finished in a day, so there was no time for a break or anything like that. Then, yeah, I moved into a sushi bar called the Basin in Loughborough, it was a nice bar, but only a few cocktails and nothing over the top.
PV: When did you get into doing the cocktail mixology?
Tom: Well, I liked it at the Drunken Monkey – the one in Shoreditch is a really good cocktail bar, but the Mile End one only had a basic list and not too much training or anything. It was interesting doing that and getting involved, and then when I moved to Apples and Pears and had a bit of training you actually realise that you’re doing everything wrong, and I started doing it properly from there.
PV: Do you like being a barman?
Tom: Yeah I do, I genuinely do love going to work every Friday and Saturday. Being a student most people find that giving up your Firday and saturday night every week would be a pain, but I actually don’t mind – I’ve never really considered it a problem.
PV: I bet you get loads of girls hitting on you!
Tom: Yeah, all the time. I get a couple of girls numbers every other night and a woman genuinely proposed to me behind the bar! To put it in perspective one of the other barman has a long term girlfriend, and he wears a wedding ring so as soon as girls start hitting on him he can just say he’s married! It’s part of the job though, if you have a good time and make them laugh and smile they’ll buy more drinks and tip you more!
PV: I always thought that female bar staff would get more attention – but it sounds like it could get pretty annoying for you guys too!
Tom: No, it’s fun, you can play around and tease them and it makes the job fun if you can have a bit of a laugh, and it’s not like you’re not constantly getting slurped over! Although to be fair, the women are as bad as the men, especially in a cocktail bar where it is aimed at females, and you’re a lot more active as a cocktail barmen than a barman in a pub because there are different ingredients, you have to explain stuff – you’re not just pouring a pint. The women do love it when you say ‘okay- what do you want?’ I say ‘what sprit do you want’ and they’ll say ‘vodka’ or whatever, and then I can say ‘okay, do you want it long, tall, fruity, sweet or sour?’ and I can make them their own thing, and they consider that a personalised cocktail – a bit of a connection which is nice.
PV: Any funny stories?
Tom: Before you start a cocktail, the first thing you do is cool the glass, I used to put in ice and soda water which gives a frosted effect, cools the glass and makes it nicer. This girl I was serving went away to get some money while I prepped the cocktail, and when she came back she grabbed the soda water and ice off the bar, took a sip, turned to her friend and said ‘Oh my God, this is the best cocktail I’ve ever had!’. It was really funny. She had that drink that she’d bought and then she didn’t come back because she was so embarrassed!
PV: Ha! In a cocktail bar, do you find you get less drunken rowdy customers?
Tom: No – we have five security on a Friday and Saturday, the security has to be quite high especially in the area with Brick Lane, you get a few ‘troublesome youths’ – a lot of drugs, a lot of fake notes and also a lot of people – this is the crowd you have to watch out for – who’ll watch a football game, go for a curry with their mates, get a bit rowdy and then come into the bar and want to fight everything that moves.
I’ve had glasses thrown at me, the other night actually I was so lucky not to get punched. I’ve had glass in my hands from people throwing glass at the bar. Because it’s quite a small bar, you sometimes can’t help but get involved in it, so you just shout for security and then grab one to make sure nobody’s getting hurt.
PV: It’s very intense, because it’s such a small bar.
Tom: Yeah – when it kicks off it kicks off. It’s so compact, people that weren’t even in the argument can’t help but get involved, especially if you’ve had a few cocktails or a few pints and think you’re king of the world! So yeah, it can get a bit silly.
PV: Well that’s definitely a job that will be nice to have over the summer, and move out of the University bubble just a little bit. Me, Chels and Imogen were just remembering the day we moved in – I think we’ve all changed so much since the beginning of the year! How do you think you’ve changed from being at Uni for a year?
Tom: Probably a bit of experience – and that comes from stuff outside of Uni. Obviously it sounds a bit stupid but you do age every year [laughs].
PV: Wow, Tom…
Tom: [laughs] I think I’ve stopped being so promiscuous [Tom didn’t use the word promiscuous but I’m not writing what he said] Keeping it down to three girls a week [laughs]
PV: Thomas! I’m not putting that!
Tom: Sorry, I’m jesting – sorry Imogen! Genuinely just stopped messing around so much, nice to find a wee little… buddy
PV: A ‘wee little buddy’? [laughs]
Tom: I don’t think I’ve changed too much, I was always a confident person because I’ve moved through so many schools, I’ve never lacked in confidence I don’t think. I think if I got any more confident it would just be annoying…
PV: Awesome, okay in the last two minutes do you want to tell us about your ideal night out in London?
Tom: Obviously, I’d do cocktails. It sounds a bit silly, but I feel like I’m getting over the whole ‘big nightclub’ thing. I like to hear myself speak, I like to sit at a bar, I don’t want to be queuing for twenty minutes just to get one drink and then get it spilt all over me and have to queue again. I quite like speakeasy joints, or just nice casual pubs with a few good friends, and just sit and talk to the barmen in there as well.
PV: Finally, as this is our last ever flatmate Friday – because we will no longer be flatmates! – What would you say is your one rule for Family 42 for a happy home?
Tom: We’ve got too many girls, I need to lay down the law! No, I think I’ll stick to my old one; ‘We’re not here to stay sober’, or ‘You’re only ever two drinks away from feeling fresh’. That was a good one.
Hopefully by the time you read this we will be moving into our new home!