Bartender of the Month

Eddie McCloy of Rumours Bar, Bellshill

Working away behind the bar of Rumours in Bell- shill, Eddie McCloy is as likely to hear the click of snooker balls as he is the clunk of glasses. As well as the lounge, restaurant and disco next door, the bar in Rumours houses six snooker and six pool tables. Now it also has the latest winner of the Black Heart Rum Bartender of the Month competi- tion, a man who claims to be always on cue to serve up a round.

'The bar isn't a club, so you don't have to be a member to play here, but we do have our own snooker and pool teams,‘ says Eddie, who nor- mally enjoys a game himself once he finishes a shift. 'The nights when we have competition matches can be particularly good - and the more local the opposition, the better. At these times, as barman, l have to be neutral, but totally biased.‘

Born and bred in the Bellshill area, Eddie hadn‘t actually been inside Rumours until he took the job

three years ago. His new working environment may have been unfamiliar - and a marked change from his previous workplace in the printing industry - but he knew enough of the regulars to feel at home straight away. Now he knows them all. 'Or more to the point,‘ he adds, ‘they know me.‘

Although he has been asked to do some unusual cocktails on request, Eddie points out that Black

'Every time somebody comes in here, it's a social event, even if they're only in for one drink.‘

Heart Rum and coke is definitely the most popular mixer with the locals. But there’s a much more basic reason for him not trying to become a flashy Tom Cruise type - ‘l‘m better looking than him,‘ he modestly insists.

Talking to the customers is probably the most

enjoyable aspect of the job for Eddie. 'Every time somebody comes in here, it‘s a social event, even if they‘re only in for one drink. l've always been interested in politics, football and everything, so it's not like I have to go out of my way to find things out. What interests me interests most of the people here too. Obviously there's a difference as to how you talk to a younger guy than to a man in his fifties, but I don't consciously have to make an effort. I'm just myself, and I haven't offended anyone yet.’

For now, however, it's back to work, with one eye on the optics and the other on the match progress- ing at the table nearest to the bar. 'Well,‘ he adds as a parting shot, 'I don't think Stephen Hendry has much to worry about from these two.‘

Photograph: Steve McTaggart