One of the few things I look forward to every month is meeting friends at Kilkenny Whiskey Guild events. So it was fantastic to be back in Paris Texas on the 13th August 2020 for one of my favorite whiskeys, Red Breast with Brand Ambassador, Ger Garland. It was also Pat Crotty’s birthday which made the night extra special. Celebrating life and celebrating the finer things that life has to offer is important in theses challenging times. We take things for granted but Covid 19 has exposed how fragile our way of life is. When lockdown was introduced no one knew how Paddy was going to react. With the pubs closed little did I think that Paddy’s top priority would be toilet paper. I could not believe the queues at the supermarkets and the sight of trolleys laden with toilet paper. I am familiar with the majority of Covid 19 symptoms but nowhere have I read that we would be spending copious amounts of time in the bathroom.
Queuing also took a bit of getting used to.
I recall one very hot morning queuing outside a certain German retailer when the security man walked down the queue and was sending all the senior citizens to the top of the queue. He arrived at where I was standing and I could see that he was looking at my silver beard. Eventually he asked if I was a senior? So I had a dilemma. Even though I am still in my 50’s I would like to have gone to the top of the queue but I was also conscious of the fact that I am well known. Some codger in the queue would surely call me out and I would be subjected to even more abuse than I am normally subjected to when I venture out. So I looked the security man in the eye and I said, “well you are half right my man because I am a señor (Spanish) but not a senior”. He wasn't amused. I turned to a young lady behind me in the queue and said, “fancy thinking I was a Senior Citizen?”. She looked at me as if I had just escaped from a home for the bewildered. The security man still looks at me strangely to this day.
When the pubs with restaurant licenses opened on Monday the 29th of June it was like I had being rescued from a desert island but then the thorny issue of the compulsory substantial meal costing nine Euro raised it’s ugly head. (This was a totally unnecessary condition in my opinion because the virus does not care if you have eaten, nor does it care how much your food is costing, nor does it care if you stay in the pub for more than 90 minutes, unlike my better half). The sustantial meal issue took me back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when a district court judge would attach this ludicrous condition to the granting of an extension to a night club owner to operate disco into the early hours. The night club’s solution to this condition was to invent a substantially disgusting meal which no one wanted. Even back then all Paddy wanted was a “feed of beer” but what did he get? He got a gammon steak (which had the consistency of rubber), a slice of pineapple, mash potatoes and peas.
So, how did Paddy react? Some lost fillings from the few teeth that they had and others almost choked. The peas were used as missiles in the mandatory pea fight. Peas were flicked left, right and center in every direction. It was like sitting in a blizzard of peas and cigarette smoke. With the invention of strobe lighting a pea would appear to be frozen (pardon the pun) in mid air just before it hit you smack in the eye. You do not know pain unless you have been hit in the eye with a pea. I recall my mother asking me if I had a part time job in Green Isle because when she was doing the laundry the day after a disco she would find peas in my pockets, socks and jocks.
Social distancing and the wearing of masks would have made the slow set at the end of a disco very challenging because for most of us this was 'The Last Chance Saloon'. You can just imagine asking a girl with beautiful eyes out for Foreigner’s, 'I Want To Know What Love Is' only to discover like Morrissey and The Smiths that she was “a buck tooth girl from Luxembourg” when you got back to the car. 'Beer Goggles' produce very similar issues.
Anyway enough nostalgia. I want to propose a toast;
Here’s to all 'Wet Pubs' reopening shortly,
And to 'Substantial Meals' being banished to history,
And to the continued success of Kilkenny Whiskey Guild,