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Today was my mother’s birthday; born on a Sunday in 1930, she would have been 73 today, but she barely made it past 51 due to smoking-induced cancer. There’s a piece of music for this occasion: “On My Mother’s Birthday” by Robert Fripp, which I might play later.

David Coulthard has just won the Australian Grand Prix, which I’m quite pleased about, since McLaren been playing second fiddle to Ferrari for too long and the cars haven’t been able to compete. Since HP sponsor the Williams team, I guess I’m supposed to prefer them over McLaren. McLaren are sponsored by West, which is apparently a cigarette brand, though not one I’ve seen on the shelves in the UK or Ireland. (Not that I care what cigarettes are on sale.) In some countries cigarette advertising is banned, so they replace the West name with the names of the drivers, but in the same typeface, for those races.

Smoking, to me, can be pigeonholed along with homosexuality and organized religion; another strange thing that large numbers of people consider normal, but which defies real understanding on my part. I can address all of the above on an intellectual level, but I’m never going to get them. Most people don’t get me, which I can live with, but smokers exhibit more of the “Screw You!” arrogance towards others that I have a problem with. There’s not much I can say about smoking that hasn’t been said before, and better, but the old joke about standing on a bar stool and pissing on someone’s head rings true to me.

I’ve thought about opening up a bar of my own, or at least a kind of club night that I could live with. I’ve seen a bit of Dublin’s night life, and I can best describe it as an endurance test that requires deep pockets, which encourages the intake of Vodka & “Red Bull”, or shots of “Aftershock”, to keep from collapsing or running away screaming. I have some ideas of my own:

  • The first problem I have is noise: both from music, and from people shouting to overcome the music. So, a top priority will be noise control, through use of low volume (ambient?) music only, and control of reflections from walls etc. (For example, the top bar of the Guinness Storehouse has an extreme form of this problem, with an angled metal ceiling that causes the noise level to reach intolerable levels before they even put any music on.)
  • Lighting: low, but with spot lighting (track lights?) in patches for people who want to read or discuss work.
  • Read? In a bar? Absolutely. How many people feel they can only go to bars in groups? People should not feel embarrassed to go out by themselves, and seeing people reading is relaxing. Obviously not a Singles Bar, though.
  • Seating: sofas are nice, but they’re high maintenance and take up too much floor space. High-backed padded benches? This aspect needs more investigation, but seating should be comfy, flexible, wood, and plentiful so that no-one has to stand in the middle of the floor trying to hold a drink on top of bags etc.
  • Privacy: because people can talk quietly, we could emphasise the privacy aspect through use of partitions or booths in a section at least.
  • Policy: patrons should not feel pressure to drink at all, far less excessively. Good coffee & tea will be on sale, and soft drinks sensibly priced. No food, though, except bar snacks – not in keeping with the character of the place.
  • On the other hand, real cocktails are a lucrative possibility. By real I mean both the classics such as Long Island Iced Tea, and more obscure ones such as the Gibson, but not the modern trashy ones such as Sex On The Beach etc.
  • Smoking? It’s not practical to ban it, unless the law gets there first, but good ventilation can reduce the impact on non-smokers. I’ve been to places where that works, e.g. some Pitcher & Piano bars in London.
  • Publicity would emphasise the quiet, relaxing environment. Lambent could be a good name, though it might prompt jokes about young gay sheep…

If anybody reading this has the means, please feel free to steal this concept and run with it. It’s not like it’s highly original, the more the merrier, and I’d happily visit such a place.

Written by brian t

March 9, 2003 at 1:45 pm

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