From an old website, Alien in Montreal
Sometimes, despite best intentions, you can end off staying too long in a pub. Promise yourself that it'll just be one pint, remind yourself that it costs $7.50 for each drink (in the bathroom there is a slogan scrawled on the cubicle door that reads 'Remember the poor as you enjoy your $7.50 pints'), but it can all be in vain. Before you know it, it's dark outside and you have to run to catch the last metro home.
Such was my quick pint in Hurleys.
I'll admit, seven dollars plus for a pint normally has me reaching for my coat - I simply can't bring myself to pay such prices for imported beers that are scorned in England, but here are toted as luxurious.
But, I start to talk to an English guy at the bar (a nice one for a change) and time passes. We drink more, and more. His friends turn up, and they talk to me too. The English guy seems to know everyone – he's been here for fifteen years, and drinking in the pub since it was built, so I would hope so.
We're drunk and talking nonsense now. We have a discussion about how the North-East of any city or country is rough, but full of nice people, and the South West is full of idiots, but rich and pretty. In the end we argue this down to The East and West divide, along the same kind of lines. The English guy actually has a good explanation for this – because the wind of our world is generally westerly, due to our direction of rotation, then heavy industry has always been built to the east of a city so the smell doesn't settle over the town. So the East becomes working class and poor, and the west desirable, suburban and rich.
'This is just it,' he says, 'being able to go to a pub and shoot-the-shit with a stranger about anything, and it doesn't matter - that's what I like about Montreal. It's not like LA - in LA everyone is nice to everyone because they think you might be their lawyer's banker's doctor or something. They live in a world of syrup.'
I mull over this image in my mind.
I call my wife and she joins me after she finishes work. She starts to talk to the Englishman, and asks him all the same things that I did, a few hours ago. We're alike, I suppose.
I want to leave, you see, really, but she wants to have another drink, and then another. So what am I supposed to do? Sit with no drink?
The band starts, and we don't even notice.
When we leave, the bill comes in a black folder, even an ominous sign, and I'm saddened to see my second $60 bar-bill in two weeks staring at me. Well, there is a bowl of chips in there. This reminds me of a Scotsman that was talking to us earlier – he complained that his first bar-bill in Hurleys was $140, and he was shocked. He examined the inventory and was relieved to see that there was a bowl of soup amongst the Guinness and 18 year old malts.
'Bloody expensive soup in this place.' He says.