Tuesday, 5 February 2013

ANOTHER WEEK - The Local Bar (Now with Totally Random Photos!)

It’s been ages since I’ve written anything.  I think to get me back in the mood I shall write about our local little bar.

It’s just at the base of our building and we can get there from the courtyard, so we needn’t ever leave the building.

It’s a small place with olive green bar tops and a big ceramic tap.  The place is a cozy little room and we’ve become fixtures – every morning a coffee, shaking hands with the proprietors.  Every evening a glass or two, listening without understanding to all the local gossip.

The bar is run by a middle-aged couple.  He, a hulking mass of a man with a scattering of fading tattoos and few words but a nice firm handshake and when he does smile it’s warm and natural.  She, a bubbly talkative woman with gold jewels at her neck and tightly curled black hair, she always asks us how things’re going, even though our French is possibly worse now than it was a few months ago.

The locals are a motley crew of weather-beaten Gauls.

There’s the grizzled lesbian couple and their little dog.  They have rough faces but warm smiles and the dog runs up and down the bar, getting pats from all – the very centre of attention.

There’s the slightly older woman, short and stocky, slowly sipping whiskey throughout the day, always smiling and saying stuff at us but her accent is so strong that all we can do is smile back and nod.

There’s the older man, his mouth robbed of all but a pair of blackened teeth, his face mushed into a strangely misshapen lozenge but his eyes bright and smiling with some humorous secret .

The pretty young bartender who knew exactly which wine we needed and had it ready before we’d passed through the door;  she’s recently been replaced by a pretty young bartender who wears waistcoats and lots of pomade in his hair, soon he’ll know which wines we need, too.

Everyone knows everyone and we feel like a part of a community.  There’s something so nice about standing at the bar and letting the waves of conversation wash over us, not fully understanding but getting the gist that the world is the same all over and that these people have been here forever.  Golden Oldies play softly in the background and come the hour, the cat clock starts to meow the time loudly.

The proprietors have a dog of their own which they sometimes bring out for us all to enjoy – a tiny little thing, smaller than a cat, with the most luxuriously maintained bangs over its darting little eyes.

The tabac stand in the corner is a lollyshop, all bright colours and pretty logos.  The lottery tickets are punched into the computer all day long, but we can’t tell whether a single patron has ever won anything – there’s been no shouting with joy, only the quiet, mechanical moving from beer to ticket reader and back.
There’s something timeless about the place, we shake hands and say ‘hello’s when we arrive and it’s like we’ve always been there and always will – which is good, because we’re going to miss it so much.

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