“It’s a ‘fret’ all you can learn in a pub”; thus speaks a man I know round home. I suspect though, that the man in question attempts to justify the extended periods he spends in his favorite academy.
Bet you have never looked on your local pub as a place of learning? You know about Pub Grub, Pub Entertainment, Pub Dating, – you have heard of Pub Culture even; but it never occurred to you, that under your nose, in the pub, is a vast source of knowledge? – Knowledge so advanced that it constitutes a ‘fret’!
This column is about to change all that:
I guarantee someone has the answer to everything in an Irish Pub. I furthered my education in the pub. I know how to finish 102 in three darts; where to spot the pink ball; how to back accumulators and three-crossed doubles; I learned a Blue beats a Run and that trying to fill in the middle is not a good idea! But the most important lesson to be learned is not to spend too much time in the pub, unless you own it and not too little time if you do!
The word ‘pub’ comes from ‘public house’. The PublicHouse has played a major part in all aspects of Irish life; history, literature and politics. It has always been the principal meeting place for a community. Deals are done, teams are picked and the dead are waked. Of course churchmen preach that it is the temple of Satan and with some justification – but for the purpose of this exercise, we shall deal on the positive side. Nobody ever lifts the glass to your lips only your own hand.
Like everything else, the pub scene has changed a lot in recent years. The most welcome change in attitude is that you can now call for a coffee or a bottle of water and nobody bats an eye or chokes on their pint of Guinness. Lord Almighty, what would The Blacksmith McCabe or Jack Murtagh have thought of a man paying good money, to drink water out of a bottle! In the ‘good old days’, a man only called for a soft drink in a pub if he were, (a) ‘off it’ for Lent, (b) ‘off if’ for the month of November, (c) a b****x.
Irish writers and playwrights got so much of their material in the pub, the best in the world for this. Everyone was equal in the pub, each individual accepted for being what he is – himself. The conversation can shift and sway and most often it is the one liner from the least intellectually equipped which will be remembered.
Of course, the pub is the second best place to watch your favorite sport. (Other than attending the match) I have heard many “good ones” in pubs over the years. I”ll just give two examples, one from Spain and one from about forty years ago.
It was Monday evening. Bobby Trapp didn’t do Mondays and was having a few pints in the pub I worked in, in Ballinasloe. A guy by the name of Coen, home from America, dropped in. Bobby knew the family, but in trying to make conversation, he called Coen four different Christian names – all wrong! “For chrisake, Buddy, my name is Tommy, if you wana have a drink with me”. Bobby wanted to have a drink all right! “Yes you are Tommy — but you have a brother who looks more like you, than you do yourself”! Face saved, thought Bobby!
A conversation in ‘Paddy’s Point’ turned to a wedding video scam in Cork. One man asked how any wedding could cost so much. Another, obviously better informed, gave a breakdown of costs – which led to a debate on the merits, or otherwise, of having the wedding videoed. “I’m glad there was no video in my day”, spoke long time “dismarried” Tomas O’Briain; “or I would have to play it backways to get a happy ending”!
A pub will often spring the unexpected on you. It is important to remember this.
In December of 1968 I arrived home from the Canadian Bush, mostly thirsty. I went in to Bartley’s Bar in Drumcree and all I wanted was the rake of beer. I left with the daughter, who is now my wife. Lads, above all ever happens to you, don’t mix yer drink!