One evening Colin and I hiked up Cave Hill to take in Belfast at stereoscopic scale. On our way back to town, we paused to slake our thirst at a pub called The Front Page. It’s close proximity to the offices of the Belfast Telegraph and Irish News had reputedly made it a hangout for journalists and newspaper workers. While I tend to avoid other writers, Colin, a photojournalist by profession, wanted to take the political pulse of the city.
The time was 3:30 on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The bar held maybe a dozen older people, that was all. But to our absolute astonishment, the every patron in the joint was completely and utterly plastered.
Conversations slurred beyond comprehension. Several people sang out of tune. A guy playing electronic pool in the corner was kicking up his heels in a soft shoe routine.
One boney old veteran got it into his head that we were French. We tried to correct him, but we couldn’t get past his indecipherable accent. He passed us notes down the bar on hastily scrawled coasters, and every once in a while, if we accidentally made eye contact, he raised his glass and shouted “Vive la France!”
I’d never been in a bar where the entire place was pissed off its pins. They were a friendly crowd, but we couldn’t get anyone to make sense. We had one pint of Guinness and left.
Photo © Colin O’Connor 2009