Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Jesus Murphy, Irish Pubs

I spent a year in Ottawa over the course of a few days last week. My unofficial headquarters is Don Cherry’s Sports Grill on Rideau Street. This particular trip I found their selection of mass market beers unusually tiresome and the numerous spelling errors on the menus particularly annoying. Sandwhich. Maybe Don wrote the copy himself.

I had to clear the zone. I made tracks on the newly refurbished sidewalk and wandered past Vertigo Records and the tattoo parlours into the Byward Market area. I searched half-heartedly for the club where the Rolling Stones shot their Streets of Love video in 2005, gave up and then sought solace in an Irish pub. They were out of Smithwick’s; I nearly died. I selected something akin to it and pondered the eerie feeling of déjà vu that had come over me. I’d been here before (actually I really had on previous visits), but I’d been to this place in Charlottetown, Halifax, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria too.

I was soon joined at the bar by a pale and tired looking young man who said he sold greeting cards. There’d been an issue with a new line: To a Special Aunt. Apparently the overly ornate, cursive font did not have a completely closed ‘A,’ indeed it resembled a ‘C’ if one scanned it quickly. I noticed his Communications Security Establishment Canada electronic key fob still hanging from his belt but said nothing. After he excused himself to use the toilet, I rifled through his satchel and found a telephone transcript of particular interest to me.

Every citizen must watch the watchers though we must balance vigilance over certain organs of our democracy with Canada’s long-term global interests. In these times it often seems that freedom and its expression teeters on a razor’s edge. The document I slipped into my coat pocket is no threat to our national security nor does it reference a foreign power, but meGeoff believes any concerned Canadian needs to know its contents. The transcript I stole on behalf of everyone in this country over the age of majority is reprinted in its entirety below.


Operator: Slainte! This is 1-800-IRISH PUB, Siobhan speaking. How may I help you?

Caller: Hi! I’ve just signed a storefront commercial lease in a so-so location with limited parking. My plan is to open an Irish pub. I figure I can’t miss!

O: Brilliant plan, sir.

C: Thanks! The idea just came to me somehow.

O: It’s a proven formula, sir. We offer numerous fixture packages designed to meet virtually any budget. Each one includes free and expert consultation. One of our associates will even visit your site. Have you decided upon a name for your establishment?

C: Yeah. I’m thinking, The Snake and Famine; St. Patrick and potatoes. Get it?

O: Hmm. Sounds a bit negative, sir.

C: Oh. But I’ve already printed business cards at Staples.

O: Always best to phone 1-800-IRISH PUB first, sir.

C: Well, okay, what about Finn McCool’s? I’ve done a bit of research and that shot of the Giant’s Causeway on the cover of Led Zep’s Houses of the Holy is pretty McCool. McCool, get it?

O: Hmm. May I suggest Ye Aulde Dublin? We have a complete interior and exterior Ye Aulde Dublin signage kit on sale at the moment. Gold lettering embossed on simulated wood product, accent lighting included and installation is free.

C: Wow. I like the sound of that. I’ll take one. I was wondering about the mill work?

O: We have a complete custom bar, snug and tabletop distressed veneer package to suit your space to a ‘T.’ Stools and captain’s chairs are included but upholstery is extra. We also have a limited time offer on random bits of stained glass or plain non-glare etched with runes or Celtic crosses.

C: That sounds pretty McCool. Get it?

O: Very authentic, sir. Hilarious. Have you thought about the décor for your establishment, sir?

C: For sure. Can I get that Guinness poster with the toucans and the R.A.F. pilots? It always makes me chuckle.

O: Of course, sir. It’s part of our Wildlife Series which also includes the zookeepers with the lions and the bears.

C: Right on! Perfect.

O: Sir, your liquor vendors will provide you with simulated wood, tin or backlit signs promoting their brands. Beer and whisky taps too. They’ll shower you with coasters and bar rags. May I suggest the Irish Art Package in addition to the Guinness Wildlife Series? We’re offering a combo special.

C: What’s the Irish Art Package?

O: It’s very unique and includes some dusty used books, sepia portraits of W. B. Yeats and James Joyce among others tastefully rendered in artificially antiqued frames. There’s also our exclusive Nostalgia Old World Golf Package that ships self-contained in its own display case. You simply hang it on the wall.

C: Brilliant! I guess the last thing is staff uniforms. I’m into those private schoolgirl outfits, you know, with the tartan and the sashes…

O: Of course you are.

C: I mean (throaty chuckle), I can’t dress them like they’re in the SS or something (really deep and prolonged throaty chuckle).

O: Sir, this call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.


C: Right. Sorry. The skirts come with slits, right? Plunging necklines for the tops, please.

O: My, you do know what you like, sir.

C: I’ve been around the block a few times. Mostly in my head. Pretty much always in my head. I’m thinking about maybe purchasing some AXE body spray… Anyway, I’ll need a gross of traditional staff uniforms with said modifications, please God.

O: Done, sir. Will that be all?

C: I was wondering about the music. Do Irish people actually listen to those goofy reels and all that maudlin stuff?

O: That is marketing’s cockle warming perception, sir.

C: I mean, the Irish Rovers, c’mon. Could I play something modern? Maybe the Undertones or the Boomtown Rats? Thin Lizzy? Would that be McCool? Get it?

O: Yes, I got it but I’m afraid not, sir. We have just one Irish Pub soundtrack loop. It’s two hours in length and more than enough to get you through each day from early lunch to last orders. It does contain a token U2 track and another one by Van Morrison.

C: Oh, that’s a bit of a drag. The same stuff over and over. But I guess it’s all about the experience isn’t it? A little bit of the Emerald Isle imported as it were.

O: Exactly, sir. Did I mention that we’ll provide you with your new Ye Aulde Dublin business cards as a courtesy and consult with you on your menu? You’ll be serving hamburgers of course. And traditional pub hotpots?

C: Yeah. And I’m thinking some old country fusion-type stuff too, like Belfast tacos in green tortillas with orange cheddar. Get the connection?

O: Genius, sir. Subtle.

C: Thanks. Boy, Siobhan, one call really does it all.

O: Erin go Bragh! Together we’ll make it real, sir. Thank you for calling 1-800 IRISH PUB. Now, if I could just get your particulars?


1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.