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From an old website, Alien in Montreal

Dieu du Ciel.jpg

I've lost my street map. Well, I know where I think it is, but that's in Laval, and no use at all when you're heading out to drink in obscure pubs all afternoon.

The first target of the day is the Dieu du Ciel. A pub I have never been to. Or, so I think. I call the wife and tell here what I'm going to do this afternoon.

'The Dieu du Ciel?' She asks, 'That pub we went to with Qbert?'

'Really?' I say.

I can't, for the life of me remember any detail of it, and, when pushed, nor can the wife.

'Maybe it's a different pub,' I suggest. But in my heart I suspect that I've been, and forgotten it. And the only reason I forget pubs is because they're rubbish (or I black out, obviously).

Anyway, I get on the bus and get off near Mont Royal, which, I discover, is nowhere near the place. I curse the lack of street map as I walk for half an hour to the correct street.

I stand and stare at it across the road. Nope, not familiar.

I cross the road and enter. No, haven't been here. It's light, airy, very wooden, and quite empty. I conclude that the wife is thinking of another pub.

I walk to the bar and ask for a pint of 'Resurrection', which turns out to be a kind of fizzy stout-like drink.

The barmaid puts the drink in front of me and mumbles something. I lose my head and say, 'What?'

She stares at me a while, then says, 'Four dollars.'

I had ordered in French, but now I was doomed to be an ignorant Anglo for the rest of my stay.

On the bright side, $4 is pretty cheap in anyone's book. Still confused, I automatically calculate 15% of $4 for a tip, and leave 60 cents on the counter. Only after she takes it and looks upset do I realise that 60 cents is a pretty mean tip.

I sigh, smoke a cigarette, and don't talk to the bar staff - there are two girls and they talk to each other, not the clients.

As my eyes do a swoop of the bar, examining the other clients, pictures, posters, beer vats, barmaids, I notice a beer on the menu called 'Païenne'.

An odd shudder runs through my body and a part of my brain that had lain dormant for a year or more sprang to life and offered up new, and vivid memories of my last visit to the bar, with Qbert and the wife.

Nothing terrible happened, it was mid-winter and the place was different outside (of course), and different inside (packed to the brim), which was why I didn't recognise it. Why that particular beer triggered the memory, I don't know. I remember I didn't have it a year ago, as I didn't know how to pronounce it (and still don't, I suspect).

I drink up and head to the next bar, and the next story.