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From an old website, Alien in Montreal

We're invited to Nyk's bar to participate in a friend's photo-story shoot. Sounds odd, I know. We asked few questions, but turned up readily, ever glad of any opportunity to be sociable in a new bar.

It's pretty small, lots of wood, cosy perhaps. There's an emphasis on food (to the point where we're asked if we want aperitifs, rather than just 'drinks'), and a lot of fancy looking art on the walls. The art, in fact, dominates the bar – red and white faces leer hugely over you as you sip your beer.

Our friend and 'cast' finally arrive and we're seated according to some unknown plan. We're introduced to a group of Francos that I don't know, and the wife starts to chat away to them merrily. Two of the group sit slightly apart and camera flashes punctuate the next hour or so.

Eventually, the moment arrives when the group is becoming anxious about my lack of contribution to the conversation, and an attempt is made to drag me into it:

'Blah blah blah blah', says the girl to my left.

I make a face that means 'what?' in every language, and smile.

She looks uncertain, and repeats the same thing. I think perhaps she says something about coming from, or to. I'm not sure.

I'm about to say something when the wife comes to the rescue, informing them that I don't speak a lot of French.

'Oh,' says the girl, collecting her English thoughts, 'where are you come from?'

Ah! I think, familiar ground. Some effort is made to speak to me some more, and they are surprised to hear me actually speak a little in French. I want to explain that trying to understand French with loud music playing is rather hard for me. They listen to me with expressions that I have seldom seen before – the kind of face you might pull when your infant child says something about physics.

It's our turn to star in the photo-romance.

The story: It seems that a woman meets a guy in a bar, who turns out to be a bastard. She then has her bag stolen by another guy, and has an epiphany. I surmise that the epiphany isn't about the wonderful nature of men.

'It's something about lesbians, I think.' mutters one man to me, between scenes.

I have to stand near the door, and get pushed aside as bastard #1 leaves the bar in a huff. It's quite violent, but fun. Several takes are required.

After our scene things wrap up quickly, and true to form, we're left sitting in the bar alone, finishing our beer. As usual, we missed the unseen signal that initiates leaving-of-the-bar-en-mass.

I stare at the art behind my wife. I notice that it is sold already. I strain my eyes to check the price.


We go to the bar to pay (not for the art).

'No, she paid for everything,' Says the barmaid, referring to our photographer friend.

'Great,' I say and turn to leave.

'What about the pitcher we had when we arrived?' Asks the wife.

I sigh and turn back. I mutter something about if the barmaid is happy, why not just leave? But my wife scowls at me and tells me that she's just an honest girl.

'Oh yes!' Says the barmaid, 'that isn't paid for!'

She seems to have an unusual system of keeping track of tabs – a huge metal spike with hundred of bits of paper stuck onto it. It seems to consist of both paid, and unpaid bills, confusingly.

Several minutes later we just put the cash on the bar and leave, as she continues to search through her stack.