Location, Location, Location

by Rab Donald

A True Story.

Feedback to Rabsterbgsb@aol.com

The first location is simply the basic setting of Dunfermline, a once industrial town in central Scotland. On the affluence/poverty scale it has both (of course) but generally sits probably just the wrong side of the median.

Then we have the 'East Port Bar' A town-centre tavern, it is but a minute's walk from my place of work, and therefore my second home. A few pennies more expensive to drink there, plus a strict owner give it an 'up-market' status that deters the less engaging of we drinking classes. Not that I am a snob, proximity is the key. It is however a most pleasant drink emporium, if you know the TV show 'Cheers' it should give you a reasonable parallel. Perhaps not everyone, but all the staff and all the barflies do indeed know your name, though to suggest they are always glad you came would be...fanciful.

Our main location is a different kettle of mackerel. 'Jamie's Bar' is in fact but 100 yards as the crow flies (500 yards as the drunk staggers) from our cosy East Port. Yet somehow, somewhere we "cross the tracks" as all those songwriters would have it.

Sited close to the municipal bus station, it has a clientele that are considerably more (how shall I put this?) 'earthy' than my second home. It does appear to be a truism in Scotland that bars/pubs situated by railway or bus stations attract the more base elements of society. Not the basest, they have places all to themselves, but just your more transient (obviously) more volatile type. "Salt of the Earth" I say. Ya know the sort.

I repeat that I am no snob. 'Jamie's' is by no means unfamiliar turf to me (OK there is not a pub in Dunfermline that is unfamiliar to me, but let us not get too sidetracked) The layout of Jamie's requires description. Main door from street leads into very small hallway. Left is the basic bar, a right turn (more a swivel) reveals staircase that leads to (imaginatively titled) "upstairs bar" which on occasion doubles as, ahem 'function suite'.

To complete the setting I must tell you this. It is just past 4pm on a Friday afternoon. My finishing time at work, though on a Friday the town's main employer shuts at noon, so many people already are haunting the ancient streets and hostelries of Andrew Carnegie's birthplace. (Dunfermline)

At this point I should also introduce my then girlfriend. Let's call her Jenny. (Name changed to protect the ungrateful ***!) We would usually eschew the pleasantries of East Port on a Friday to visit Jamie's (it is Friday) and enjoy the music and revelry, along with a co-worker. No, I never did get a threesome with them though I suggested it often enough [g]

This fine night, Jenny informed me that she was "meeting an old friend" in Jamie's and she suggested that I not go along as they had "a lot of catching up to do" and I would merely be an intrusion or terminally bored or whatever. Given that my now ex and I had 'fallen out' earlier, I was quite content with the plan. (The 'old friend' was female so not a "threat" except in that grrl way which I had little answer to anyway)

Find me in East Port, in good, familiar company, suit and tie as obliged by my employers and generally happy and relaxed that "le weekend" was upon us. Find me in East Port four hours later, beer replaced by that evil vodka and becoming less inclined to reason. "Why does Jenny not wish me there?" "Is old friend really female? ...or perhaps a previous lover?..Perhaps a previous female lover? What was she up to?

Ya just know this is a bad move...

I stumble into the main bar of Jamie's, it is "heaving" as we would say, packed out, jumping no room to light a cigarette type thing. It is also dark, or are my eyes just not focusing? No problem getting served, in Jamie's standing vertical is not a requirement, simply waving money is sufficient to get something in a glass.

Several scans of the murkiness fail to locate my beloved/hated girlfriend. She must be upstairs!!!

The abnormally large hand of bouncer/doorman/thug aborts first scouting trip. "You are not permitted upstairs" "Permitted"? Where did he learn that? Word of the day toilet paper?

I retreat with grace, just enough to allow him to sneak out for a ciggy then I dash upstairs. Upstairs is little better, equally busy and equally in twilight. My hapless scan fails to identify Jenny and worse still 'big hand' (surely a relative of bigfoot?) strolls in and promptly 'escorts me' back down the stairs.

Their petty rules as are as nothing to my grim (read drunken) determination. Back in the basic, petty-criminal bar I clutch a drink and just wait... Of course by now the Pope could have walked in and I would not have noticed, indeed despite inhuman efforts I find it difficult to focus on individual faces, yet I know that I can continue downing vodkas for as long as it takes..and that basically means until big-hand has the need to disappear, either for nicotine, alcohol, urine relief, I just don't care.

And lo it came to pass! An unfathomable amount of time may have passed, but I have out-stayed Mr. Muscle! Even an unconvincing attempt at climbing the stairs cannot detract from the fact that I am now back in the upstairs bar, and meathead is nowhere to be seen. At the actual bar, I make a reasonable attempt at requesting a vodka..the barmaid seems uncertain, but then shrugs and obliges.

Oddly at this point, a certain clarity of vision descends and though I still find it difficult to focus on individual faces, I become aware that a deal of the patrons of the "upstairs bar" are staring at me. An atmosphere of disquiet has emerged...and if I really squint my eyes I become aware that every face is of the female gender...

Unused to such intense scrutiny, especially from women, I pivot and conclude that further alcohol is the only reasonable course. Barmaid again delivers but crucially speaks "We are expecting a male stripper...it isn't you surely?"

I have no idea if I paid for that final vodka, I sure didn't drink it. If there is a World Record for leaping a flight of stairs in double-quick time then I must be a candidate. But a glance of the impatient, baying mob of hungry beefcake lovers had me exit the building in supersonic, possibly ultra-sonic time.

So just remember, if you ever get drunk and morose, just think..there is probably someone worse off than you, and it is probably me!


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