From an old website, Alien in Montreal
I got in trouble for this review. One of the guys I talk about found it on my website and got in touch, He was outraged that I accused him of cheating me. He said I was too drunk to understand the rules. He said there was no Marine in the bar. That I was an idiot.
It is, perhaps, too easy for me to speak with bitterness about the London Pub. This unhappiness has its basis in the evening I just spent there.
Maybe I should start at the beginning.
After a DOS (Denial of Service) at Pub Claddagh (In fact I spent ten minutes on a barstool waiting to be served and left in frustration after everyone but me got drinks), I found myself staring at the Union Jack flying outside the London Pub.
It has been three years since I had British company (with a few incidental exceptions) and I suddenly felt like mixing with my old compatriots. I crossed the road and entered the pub.
It didn't begin too well.
'A pint of Burton please.'
'Okay, that's $7.50.'
Wow, I think. 'Can I get a tab please?'
'Do you have a credit card?'
'I'll need a credit card if you want a tab.'
I think about this. 'But I'll just be sitting right here.'
She thinks about this. And then comes up with this exceptional excuse: 'But I'm new, and I was asked to get credit cards for tabs, and I'm finishing work soon.'
I sigh. 'I'll pay now then.'
At the end of the bar are two English guys who work in IT doing something in the country for a couple of years, and a Canadian guy, who is big, loud, and proud.
I listen to them talking, and drink my pint. I enjoy listening to the English accent again. As I listen I notice the happy hour specials, which the barmaid neglected to tell me about.
At this point the barmaid does actually finish work and has to go around the bar and collect money from the bar tabs that everyone has. No-one has a credit card, and everyone has a tab. She looks guilty as she does this, glancing at me occasionally.
I really want to have a good time in this pub and make friends, so I put the whole thing behind me and order a happy hour beer.
After a lengthy period of silence I finally try and break into the English circle. It's an old conversational gambit, but tried and tested:
'So, where are you guys from?'
They stare at me, not very friendly-like.
I smile. They turn away and there is more silence. Looking back, I should have left it at that, and gone home. But my need for English company must have been running deep, and I kept on pushing, even though they weren't very willing.
Then one of the English guys gets got out his laptop. The kind of person that would put on the TV if you went round to his house and there was a momentary gap in the conversation – something to look at without having to talk.
They start to laugh as they watch amusing video clips.
'Oh! That's a classic!' They shout.
I sit on my stool and stare at my pint. I can't see the laptop from where I am.
'Do you mind if I look?' I ask.
There is a grunt, so I take my pint and walk around.
We look at girls so drunk that they urinate in their pants, guys vomiting, girls sitting in their own filth, guys having accidents, a man on an emergency room operating table with an unlikely tree stuck up his anus.
'I'm not sure I believe that one.' I say.
They look at me as if I'm mad. 'No, that's real.' they say, as if they know.
I tire of the puerile, sexist, homophobic, childish images and sit back down on my barstool... They watch more for another half hour, the barman enjoying it as much as they were.
I have to drink pairs of pints to get the happy hour deal, so embark on my third.
The laptop gets put away and I start to talk to a US Marine that has just entered the pub. Tired of strip bars on St Catherine, he has come to try the dubious delights of an English pub. He's actually good company and we talk about life, the Marines and Iraq for an hour before he leaves, to drive his car, drunkenly, back across the border.
The English guys look at me.
'Want to play a game?' they say.
'Sure.' I say.
Now, how many years have I been drinking? How many times have I been in pubs? Was I born yesterday?
Well, perhaps my need to make friends with these English guys blinded me to a very, very important fact that should not be overlooked: Many English people are bastards.
It's a dice game, where you roll and then turn over the numbers from 1 to 12 depending upon your combined total, or each number in turn.
I win. There are cheers and I'm given an unpleasant spirit to down in one.
'Want to play again?' They ask, sweetly.
I'm beginning to be drunk. 'Sure!' I say, thinking that I'm having a good time.
I lose. But I'm not sure why. They explain it in a manner that confuses me. We all have a drink, but this time I'm paying. We drink tequila – my choice.
We play again and I lose again.
This conversation actually takes place.
'Why did I lose? I got the highest score.'
'No mate, you have to get the lowest score!'
'Yeah, the lowest score!'
Now I know I'm being conned. The first game I won, I'm sure I had the highest score. How could they explain the game so badly that I didn't even know if I should be aiming high or low?
We all have another drink but I'm not happy. I finish my fifth pint with my third shot. Or was it the fourth? I'm drunk now and losing count.
'The bill please.' I have established a line of credit, but now wish that I hadn't.
'Fifty four dollars please.'
'Fifty four dollars.'
Now I know I'm being conned. But what can I do? I pay, cleaning out my wallet, and stagger into the cool evening.
I'm drunk, and broke, and upset, at 10:30pm.
This is not the end of the evening, however... the story continues in Momento.