By THERESA GARNER
A 1.54m (5ft 1in) tall woman throwing a wobbly over getting the wrong drink is all it takes now to put the wind up barman Paul Bartup.
The 29-year-old from Wellington has been left shaken and unable to sleep since two men burst into the London pub where he works and sprayed drinkers in the face with acid.
Moments before the pair embarked on their vicious assault, which left their victims' skin burned to the bone, Mr Bartup had tried to break up what he thought was a normal bar fight.
Mr Bartup, assistant manager of the Cabbage Patch pub in Twickenham, approached the men and was punched to his knees.
"I had my hands up, asking them to calm down. Then the next thing I know I was punched in the head."
Mr Bartup said he was seeing stars and could easily have laid down on the ground.
"But I knew it was serious so I leapt over the bar and called the cops. While I was doing that, they went for gold."
The men went on to spray acid at seven men enjoying a birthday celebration. Terrified drinkers cowered behind the bar.
"The chef was trying to stop the blood coming down my face, and I heard cries of 'they're burned, they're burned'."
Two of the men needed skin grafts and plastic surgery.
Talking to the Weekend Herald a week after the attack, Mr Bartup said he could not forget what happened.
"It was worse than a horror movie. Two guys copped it in the face full-on. Their skin was falling off.
"It was horrific the way it ate through the cloth. Their wounds were going green and bubbling."
Like thousands of other young New Zealanders, Mr Bartup sees London as a "brilliant place to earn money" and had planned to stay for another six months.
But he said £6 ($20.60) an hour was not enough to risk your life for, and his only wish now was to come home.
"I am damn nervous. I've just had some troubles with a 5ft 1in woman that gave me the shakes."
Mr Bartup and his fiancee, Leanne Avard of Tauranga, who was there during the attack, had been working in the bar for six weeks.
They left jobs in the Barbican, a haunt of high-flying city workers, because they wanted a safer environment.
"I'm sure half the guys were on coke, and they just used to destroy the pub. We thought, 'Let's get out of this and go to a local pub out of London for a more sedate pace'."
The attackers are still on the loose.
Mr Bartup, who has been travelling for six years, said if he had the money, he would leave London now. Instead he was trying to convince the bar to put doormen on fulltime.
"I used to think London was as safe as houses. But this city is out of control now."
He said the crime was horrendous. "There are not enough police, and the drug problem is unbelievable."
He wanted to seeing the back of English "louts and geezer-types."
"New Zealand's such a wonderful place. I can't wait to get back there."
Aucklander Daniel Keys, 27, died last week after being set on by strangers in a North London street.
By THERESA GARNER