17.3.05

Happy Paddy's Day!


It's Saint Paddy's Day! A time for drinking people the world over to get drunk and generally have a good time lining the pockets of whoever owns Guinness nowadays. Not that I grudge them... not a bit of it. I am partial to the black stuff myself, and even spent one year of my life working in an Irish bar (a proper Irish bar) honing my skills at both pouring and consuming the perfect pint of Guinness. I acquired quite a taste for the stuff... all the more so because it was free (for staff on duty, that is). Since I was given the rather grand, but practically meaningless title of bar manager, I tended to be on duty quite a lot. The owner of the pub - and my employer, a character from Dublin who shall remain nameless (although I am certain that some readers of this page will know who I'm talking about), told me on the day that he employed me that there were few rules that it was my duty to make sure the staff who were, apparently, under my control followed. The first rule was to make sure that there were never any empty glasses on the tables. The waitresses all knew what they had to do, and they were all very good at doing it. The second rule was that only Irish music could be played, and as the night progressed, the music had to be of the type that encouraged the consumption of alcohol. The third rule was that the air conditioning had to be switched off when the place was busy as this would make people hot and more inclined to drink. The fourth rule was that at no time were the staff to be more inebriated than the customers. Needless to say, this was a rule that was rarely kept. The customers seemed to like it, and they came in their droves to enjoy the craic. I worked in the bar during its first year, and it must be now approaching its tenth year. When I worked there, it was always jam packed full on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. We did our best to keep the waitress service going, but it always got to the stage when they had to be called behind the bar to help the bar staff. The bar opened just a few days before Paddy's night, and every year since it's opening, the owner has held a birthday party for invited guests only - the party is a free bar. Although I have an open invitation, I have only ever managed to get to one of these parties - the rest of the time I have just not managed to be in Lisbon on the day. As for tonight, I'm sure that there will be a band of itinerent musicians playing, and that the owner will sing his party piece (Whiskey in the Jar) to the gathered drunken throng. I'm sure they'll have a great time. So, I would like to say to all the people I have ever known at the first and best Irish Pub in Lisbon, O'Gillin's in Cais do Sodre, have a great Paddy's night, wherever you may be now.

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