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
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,
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.
CSEC File 7319 IP- EYES ONLY/TOP SECRET
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
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
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
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
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
O: Sir, this call may be monitored for
quality assurance purposes.
INSERT: CSEC: TRANSCRIPT ONLY: I’ll say.
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
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
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?
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