Raising a glass to this issue's Bar Guide, bar-fly Phil praises pubs world-wide.
Bars, bars, bars, wonderbars, ultra-bars, uplifting bars, push you together and raise you up and out for the night. The bars that have meant most to me, where are they? And where are they now? Some of them do not exist any more. The one on the beach in Portugal that found us with the Neil Young songs floating over the dunes, open 23 hours a day; the hour they were closed
they were not closed, I [7 they were just not 0 E there, so you had to do it yourself, and then hang around to H pay. AC
Like the village bar T in Borau in the mountains of Spain. It was run by the villagers and you would go and get the key and open up yourself and keep an extremely accurate record of all the Gin Con Gin and the weeskey half way up the glass, and San Miguel, Sanmiguel, samigel, gracias.
Some bars are so expensive, but only if you take money with you. Some bars are free and you feel like you can never get enough from them. I was at a launch in London at a fancy bar, my launch, and we had a tab and we kept asking for drinks. Then I realised we could just have the bottle. So we did and everyone got wasted and the journalists missed their trains and we got thrown out and I left eight hundred and fifty quid in the bogs that I was buying a car with.
'Free Bar’ has such a ring to it. Is there a bar called the Free Bar? Or is there a bar called the Open Arms? There are names flying around that a bar should exist to fit. There are bars where the name means nothing compared to what is inside. Then there are Yates' and JD. Wetherspoon and All Bar One that really should be torched. A bar is a place where booze is primary, where people go and all the rest is free to be invented on a nightly basis by the humans within. You must queue back from the bar at some 1.0. Witheringrituals. They try and arrange the basic human activity into a more ordered and efficient part of their money making. I shall not drink to that. No cheers.
Bars, bars with fires and bars with steaming hill walkers and a fire at each end; after-hour bars in New York with coked up Cubans on a hair trigger so that when you stand up suddenly for the joke, they reach to their hearts in panic. Or was it their guns? There are bars my brother started in the Caribbean and bars I have heard about in mythology. Talk of the ultimate bar. That should have been the film they made: The Bar, not The Beach. Beaches are already perfect in the actuality of a
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million million tides wearing down the boulders to rocks to smaller rocks to pebbles to grains of similarly sized sand. The Bar would be about this bar you have heard of in your own mind. Perhaps it is very busy, so busy that people can't stay with their friends for long and they mix with everyone instantly, so they are in this soup and end up losing their coat for a while and hustling the locals on the pool table, and the booze is neat and flowing. Maybe it is smaller, like in the front room of Mrs O'Connell in Sligo and the Guinness pumps are over by the cat‘s chair and help yourself and get a few for the musicians. Perhaps the best bar is open air overlooking the bay in Mexico and there is more than just booze, and you have a tan.
Maybe it is the Espy
in Melbourne at dusk on your first night
with the cinema- sized sunset window, D the free band, spare
and enormous gay Maori bouncers. I love a bar in Plymouth that the owner is happy for you and the staff to stay in after hours and confident enough in you to let you involve absinthe in the cocktails.
I believe in angels in bars. I like a pub, a bar, a drinking house, an inn, a micro- brewery, a winery, a hot saki club, the international lounge bar, the rotating cocktail lounges of L'America, Max's Fish Bar, the Royal Hotel, the bar in the kitchen, slightly lower, on your table, stocked with all that people have brought, that becomes a crazy Manhattan of bottles and cans, and the straight forward bar-bar with style and coloured lighting fixtures, and the gold- plaster designs of the Variety with the Oscar-walk to the toilets.
In the morning I like the bars in Spanish towns for brandy, and the Italian cafe bars for amaretto. I like the karaoke bars of the rich Chinese in Guangzhou, where everyone has their own bottle and sweet beef portions.
I have not a local, I sit not regularly in any bar. They are not the place that feels like a home and where I go alone for a chat. I love not the chromelands of bottlebeer, Edwards and O'Really theme bars where the theme is Human Underachievement and torture by faux-cliché.
I like bars.
Phil Kay in China, see Travel page 724.
HI AN . steaks on the barbie
Who's that, then? Suhayl Saadi is a Glasgow-based poet and short story writer who has done pretty well for himself in competitions.
You mean, he's been on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and The Weakest Link? Not qurte. But he has nabbed a third place for himself in the 1997 Bridport Competition with a short story called ’Rabia' and last year was second in the high-profile Macallan/Scot/and on Sunday award with ‘Ninety— Nine Kiss-o-grams’.
You also said 'poet'. His stanzic stuff appeared last year in anthologies such as pocketbooks' Atoms Of Delight and Wish I Was Here and has been seen in public reading with AL. Kennedy and Chris Dolan.
They must be fans, then? Certainly are. And the praise received from Shena Mackay and Pat Kane can't do any harm, either. I suppose all those plaudits have gone to his head and he can be seen at all the swanky literary parties? Not at all, saucy. As well as his own writing, he is keen to promote others and his editorship of the Pollokshields Group has done much to push forward Scottish cosmopolitanisrn. Sheila Puri’s 'Doors’ concerns a Sikh door-to-door salesman who shaves off his beard and hair in a railway carriage toilet while Martin Maclntyre’s 'Faces Of A Uist Girl’ IS written in both Gaelic and English. So, what's his own stuff about? Love and redemption are his big brushstroke themes while his influences are described, somewhat obliquely, as ‘manifold and ever-changing'. Next up? Polygon is set to publish a collection of his short stories entitled The Burning Mirror some time next spring. And there are a couple of novels in the pipeline: one set among the Asian community in Glasgow and another which is a reflection on love down the ages. No need to advise him to give up the day job, he's clearly a full- time writer? Actually, no. During the day he fills his hours by working as a GP in inner city Glasgow. (Brian Donaldson)