The Gigs Place

The Gigs Place

Dublin, twenty years ago. The nights spent darkening the door of the Gigs Place in later years – it could take some time to get in – can be counted on one hand but all the key details had been sketched at the outset.

1996

7th September, Saturday

Gigs Place: out of the corner of my eye I saw a young crew-cut slipping out with a Groucho Marx walk (a runner). Then there was the long-haired musical type who insulted me after roaring for pepper. Got into a slanging match over pepper, saw a guy do a runner, met two women: a fifty-one-year-old female Dorian and a doctor in the house (her niece). More wine. The pinch test: Dorian showed me the difference between the skins of ‘old’ and ‘young’ via the elasticity of the back of the hand.

8th September, Sunday

On Sunday morning the ends of long streets in their post-dawn haze – all cities look the same then. Awake, shake scenes from your awareness. Bed at 7.20 AM.

17th October, Thursday

Gigs: people crashing out left, right and centre. Of a group of four women across from us, the one good-looking one lost the plot after making a pudding sandwich with her toast. She had to be helped out, while I never saw what happened to another member of her group who’d dipped first.

Behind us, one of a group of three women lay stretched out like a corpse. I only spotted the horizontal human-like shape on rising to go to the toilets.

Over to my right, beyond the dried-leafy trellis, a ginger-haired fella rested his head on his table, with his clean fry-up and a tall glass of milk. Vermeer might have captured it. Every so often a waitress would make a token effort to wake him. The Gigs Place is some place.

21st October, Monday

Words for a review of the Gigs Place: fare with no exotica and no frills. Optional chips with everything. Bad wine, the list consisting of red & white.

16th November, Saturday

Gigs: the sight of the night was a fella puking like a muck spreader.

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Breakfast Paranoia

Breakfast Paranoia

1998

Dublin

26 October

A strange, unsettling outbreak of paranoia in the renamed Billboard (“Leroy’s”) on Camden St: I was upstairs, waiting patiently, admiring the voluptuous new waitress. Thirty-something, a dyed blonde, bobbing up and down the stairs she came and went.

Three guys sat quietly at the table behind me, the farthest one back, in a raised corner under a translucent skylight. As I was eating the indifferent brunch, one of the other staff below discreetly called the lady in charge about an issue upstairs. Whatever the problem was, I was suddenly keen to find out. I just felt that I should know what the matter was but it wasn’t being broadcast.

Looking down I could something of a contagion spreading among the black-attired waitresses, an almost silent but visible effect like the chill in The Masque of the Red Death.

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I wanted to know more. The problem created a paralysis, like it was frightening, at least to women. I wanted to know but all I managed to make out was a simple exchange.

“Have you been up there?”
“No, I haven’t been up there,” replied the one in charge.
“Well, there’s something up there.”

It didn’t get any more appetising, what was on my plate. Those three guys behind abandoned their table and didn’t pay. When they had left, I was alone in the eye line of the anxious women in black, down below. They couldn’t stop themselves raising their eyes in my direction, in that of the skylight. Remember Harry Dean Stanton and the cat in Alien.

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Don’t look back. It was time for me to leave. I paid but wouldn’t be back. If we only knew, we’d go nowhere. Start a panic. If I’d turned around before the door and demanded to know what was going on, I’d have been the one to start that stampede.