Friday, March 1, 2024

EVERYTHING BUT . . . : The public bar


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The BAR DRINK in the early evening, or at night, is a normal part of social life that we enjoy – particularly those of us who work eight to five.
Those other few of us who must grapple with the long and irregular hours, not to be left out, have our single pet period of the week in which we are as profoundly immersed wining down.
That is, those of us who do not sneak away whenever we can between tasks to take up position at the wicket. You will forgive me if I take up a Robert Best cricketing analogy.
Truth be told, the bar manoeuvre can be calming and destressing. It helps us to untangle the frays of the workday. And that can mean much to a person’s mental and emotional state.
That is why I could never understand Lowdown Hoad’s detachment from the hot libation. Just Cokes simply don’t cut it – not after a good few slices of smoked ham, a pork chop and pigtail rice. Not after a solid guitar, mandolin, banjo, feet-tapping session.
But, back to the bar. Let us not forget the ritual that comes therein with our favourite drink. More often than not the ritual transcends the drink itself.
In the simple bar, shelves of mirrored miscellaneous bottled beverages (the known and the unknown, the recommended and the dangerous, the stimulant and the depressant); the clinking of glasses being washed by Sandy, Jack or Harper under a cascading tap; the absolutly gentle cracking of the hard liquor seal; the popping of wine tops; the snapping of beer caps; the tumbling if ice blocks into bowls and vacant glasses
that wait to be baptised by alcohol – they all matter as much as the libation itself.
Add to that the discussion born of the rum shop: exciting and rambling; from politics to philosophy; from geography to mammography; from gutter talk to judgement handed down from giddying heights.
No such bravado at the five-star Barbadian hotels! The tourists didn’t come here for noise pollution, don’t mind they throng to Oistins Bay Garden when they can circumvent the rigid tour guide.
Say what you like, these five-star bosses have turned the ordinary rum and Coke thing into splendour and luxury, giving straw-hatted, barefoot tourists a dignity hitherto unknown.
Amid the walls of mirror of these welcoming edifices, executive lighting, gigantic displays of flora and the extravagant and lengthy show of stock, they serve – to the background strains of the piano or transient keyboard – your choice of liquor for the price of an arm and a leg.
Of course, the drink is more palatable if payment is by credit card; and you pay for feeling as important as the rich and famous, a rush you don’t get at Sandy’s, the Bush Bar or at Harper’s.
But it matters not where you really be, though the one-star will do for me. Sitting and sipping on the rugged bench of the chattel place in the early evening, or after dark, watching friends and acquaintances come by is as normal itself to the enjoyment of the libation.
Bring drinks; somebody will pay – particularly those of us who work eight to five and have time to go to the ATM.
Five-star or none, the bar beats sitting at home sipping your private, even if expensive, shots of vodka and Schweppes as you watch CSI: Miami with a snoring partner for company.


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