You will see them if you dare venture out in any town or city tomorrow night. They are the modern-day guardians of the gates of hell. They will be standing there, earpieces at the ready. They will invariably be bald, buffed and dressed in black.
They are bouncers, that group of people more commonly found barring entry than physically ejecting, though the whopping 30 hours of training they have to undergo no doubt ensures they can do both if needs be.
Like many a subject of this column, there is nothing necessarily modern about "door supervisors" – references to "gatekeepers" abound from the Bible to Greek myths. But where such figures were once there to protect and serve, the modern bouncer can, at times, seem hell-bent on provoking and stirring.
And they're everywhere. One eye-witness (my nephew, actually), reports having seen one of these MA1-jacket-wearing heavies guarding a toilet in Burger King! Could it be we have become such an unruly rabble that no public space is safe? Are we so prone to violent outbursts that we need the constant presence of authority figures to stop war breaking out on our streets?
Sadly, this column's suspicion is that the more you guard places that don't really need guarding (the local pub, the trendy pizza restaurant, the shops on the first day of the sales, loos…) the more you create an atmosphere of vague menace; and the more you create an atmosphere of vague menace, the more likely people are to act accordingly.
The good news is that bouncers have no more right to use physical force than any other member of the public, though that will provide little comfort if your face doesn't fit tomorrow night.
Which reminds me of my own most-recent experience with a pair of chunky charmers this time last year. My work colleagues had been in a bar for a couple of hours by the time I got there (sober, I shwear) only to be told said bar was "Closed for a private function." "Do you know who I am?" I replied. And they didn't. But they do now I've been banned from that bar for life.