The relationship between the number of times you visit a place and where you sit is inverse.
It’s across the board: restaurants, movie theaters even airports but especially the pub. No matter how many times you go, there’s usually only one or, like, maximum two places where you’ll sit, either alone or with a group. These choices are made on the first and second visit.
I prefer the no man’s land between the two types of clientele who visit the pub, between drink and food service to my left and right. There are obviously two camps here. They are easily identified by posture and attire. Food service humans tend to wear collars, white or blue, it doesn’t matter; while others are characterised by the depressive haunch of excess. Food service is sotto voce. Drink service is baritone. And seldom does Food talk to Drink or vice versa. I sit in the middle with my headphones in without the sound on so I can hear what these people say.
It’s in the PM and I’m hearing these two men talk, they’re sitting in Drink and their chairs protest as they shift and adjust. They’re dressed in cricket whites, presumably teammates. And what I hear next: ‘You’ve become more confident in yourself, it’s a step forward,’ the big one says to his supposedly timorous colleague. This man, the less confident of the two, has just hit his first century I imagine.
On my right in Food, a woman in her early thirties tells a friend about a lunch where she met a man. Her frenzied tone is indicative of recent events as enthusiasm often wanes with the passage of time.
‘He’s an account manager. I think I tried to sound a little too smart and it came off as wankish,’ the one with shoulder length mouse-brown hair says to her heavily pregnant friend.
‘Are you going to see each other again?’ asks Heavily Pregnant.
What both ladies don’t know is Mr. Account Manager fancies blondes, and went home with the sure thing he’d had his eye on that day. Mouse-Brown had mistaken general conversation for specific interest. She is unlucky in love.
‘He said he’d call me’, Mouse-Brown says to Heavily Pregnant.
Pub is short for public house, where most are welcome. It’s the perfect place for voyeurs. On any given night one thousand personal narratives are acted out between walls decorated with flat screen televisions, freckled trophies and fading photos of bygone champions. Every narrative within these walls is personal and unique, and utterly bland until it’s blessed by meaning by an observer. And that is the job of the fiction writer. To take the personal narrative and make it relatable, analogous, allegorical — to make other’s give a shit, about the cricketers century, the love life of another, or find out what the fuck this guy’s staring at?
My favourite time to collect data is in the morning, although, in the morning people mostly drink alone and rarely talk. At ten in the AM, pubs don’t really open much earlier, patrons mostly discourse with their pale gold pints and sit in the patches of feeble morning sunlight and smoke.
At times like these a fiction writer needs to bridge the gap between reality and the fantastic to create a story. An imagination for the emotional prostration of the public-morning drinker. A time when the bottle shop is also open and it’s far cheaper to drink at home. Is this the highlight of the day for these tired men, drinking till they run out of money, or are cut off from service, before placing one foot in front of the other until they arrive at their door.
Perhaps it’s analogous to the man (it’s almost always a dude) who sits on his laptop at a cafe making obvious frustrated sounds into his computer screen holding the people around him hostage with self importance.
The guy (again, mostly men) at the pub at this hour, it’s like he’s drinking in an observed environment to somehow give the story of his addiction resonance. Like the act of writing, or a creative pursuit in general, our personal narratives are meaningless to the world until they are, for lack of a better term, recognised. They drink in public to be observed and in doing so their story is legitimised, for however brief a moment in time.
Or maybe like me they just love the pub.
The people of Amsterdam walk to the pace of their own drum
The Amsterdam red light district (RLD) is the world’s largest open air museum. Sometimes the people are the best thing about visiting a museum.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they walk
It doesn’t matter what pace you walk in Amsterdam, as long as you’re comfortable in your sneakers.
This is strange. You’d think people on the cruise for sex would take their time checking-out the women murated behind glass. In fact, the opposite is true. The pervs (as no stranger to the RLD, I mean this in an un-pompus way) walk noticeably quicker.
Groups of men, hands tucked deeply in their pockets and eyes mostly pointed down, burst forth from the cramped alleys of the RLD like ejaculate from a penis. The stance may or may not account for sexual insecurity, or intimidation at the amazonian sensuality of the women as they proffer passers-by for sex.
The couples pace
The word inspection comes to mind. The women watch their men, and the other women, like a Sergent on parade. The men adopt an ‘I only have eyes for you’ stance, which, in most cases, is absolutely phony.
1000% times faster than the perverts. Their eyes even further down, and if possible, hands deeper in their pockets. Walking at this speed may as well be the same as wearing a sign that says, ‘Not for sex… I happen to work this way’.
Although the dealers are often stationary on alley corners. The dealer’s pace can matche the pace of anyone else if there’s a hint of a sale.
One thing I love about the RLD is that it attracts people from all ‘walks’ of life in all life stages — pregnant women included. For obvious reasons: slow with the occasional break to sooth a sore back.
More of a stagger than a pace, usually slow: “Who put this wall here?”
Due to the legal status, magic-truffles are the culprits here and usually result in a starry-eyed fucked-up wobble of a walk. Trippers tend to walk the same route over and over again trying to find where they’re going, lost in the homogeneous alleys, looking for a landmark such as a windmill or coffee shop.
Micah P. Hinson on a boat in Paris
Who: Micah P Hinson.
What: Acoustic folk performance.
Where: Le Petit Bain, Paris.
When: 8.30PM Friday the 25th of April.
Why: Free ticket.
Drinks: €7.00 for a pint. €4.00 for shitty box wine.
Le Petit Bain (The Little Bath[?]) is a red boat on The River Seine.
Tall dark bouncers stood on the concrete bank and ushered guests across the gangway onto Le Petit Bain, a nightclub boat on The River Seine. My wrist was stamped with damp and dark ink and we descended past the mid-level bar to the performance space, which below the water line. We were to see the American folk singer Micah P. Hinson. On the upper terrace people gazed upon pastel orange lights of Paris in the evening reflected from the river, and smoked cigarettes.
Hinson wore a hat with the letter H embroidered on the front, for Heroin. He was wearing black overalls covered by a heavy brown animal jacket. Despite the clothes he was naked. It must take some courage to get up there and push yourself as the only product. Writers can hide behind their words, photographers their pictures and painters their art. Acoustic performances and standup comedy are next level. No one heckles a folk singer. Here.
He checks his watch a few times throughout the night giving the impression he’d rather be elsewhere. His inebriated state, and the watch checking, all comes across as disinterested. Hinson stumbled over his feet and his words he was a little fucked up. His reputation had preceded him and our party at the performance expected as much. It was his prerogative, viz the whole naked on stage thing — there’s no excuse for feedback from the microphone. I guess his torture and misfortune is the fuel of his creativity. Fingers crossed Hinson is miserable forever.
Hinson has just had a child, which he describes as, “A free little miracle.”
His last song was introduced: Good is God or God is Good, I can’t remember which. Hinson said he didn’t know whether the title of the song was a fact and this got chuckle from those in the audience with enough English to understand his American drawl.
He refused to take a photo with one woman, from what I saw she was both disappointed and pleased.
He attracts buenas vibras, or sympathy, which is why they give him another drink when he’s there. Back home the rules are black and white. This will be the pint of no return.
Vaguely disturbed by the smell of shit, the pulse in his head rocks the bed. This is operant pain. Last night’s tomfoolery was all for a girl who works at a bar. The rank smell is naively attributed to a rank fart in his sleep.
His body hurts but the torment of consciousness holds his mind awake with the brutality of a headlock. In the predawn hours, this installment of the daily joust with The Sleep is particularly hard to achieve.
He notices that the rapid, tidal qualities of the room ease when his head comes up from the pillow. Of course there’s a causal relationship between proximity to the pillow and happy. It finally occurs to him why the graph of comfort is shaped in an arc.
Another dangerous movement comes at dawn; the time, he thinks with difficulty (thinking makes his head hurt) , where sleeping for another hour will only make the day worse.
He’s got a fifteen minute buffer up his sleeve to submit to The Sleep before he ends this silly game and hits the bathroom to drain the piss, which he’s thankful hasn’t happened in the bed — a sign of the cross or prayer is scheduled for around lunch.