Monday, 15 August 2011
In praise of the pastiche pub
Don't fret, calm down, carry on - surrealism abounds in gigantic leaps and bounds when watching the anarchy in the UK unfold with a glass of Efes to hand. Nihilism more like it but then that's another argument in another counter-factual universe. Here in Paddy's Irish Bar by the wine-dark Aegean I ask for a bottle of Efes' Dark as the cricket comes on and then Arsenal drag out a tedious draw (the previous evening an hour of golf on the TV confirmed my lifelong dislike of this 'game'). The pub/bar is both on the street and deep and dark within - inside the walls are dotted with dozens of photos: Irish ephemera, beer brands, football teams, all manner of bottles, teapots, figurines, soft toys, a rugby ball and a framed black and white photo of Ataturk, the guy who dragged Turkey into the modern age in the 1920s (he seems everywhere here, in shops, barbers and even the internet cafe in which I write). Oh and there's a Hull City FC pennant. It's a pastiche pub, the sort of place I would never ever consider entering back home (why when there is the real thing), but here - in a town that seems sorely lacking in the sort of backstreet bars that often offer up a country's soul for consideration - I feel a sort of homeliness. I am made welcome, there is a sense of comfort, and I relax. The Efes Dark is chocolaty, mocha-ish, creamy but firm, brisk in its carbonation, and reminscent of Voll Damm (it's also chewy and has hints of vanilla). Again the same question: would this be drunk at home? Probably not, it's also too stern, too synthetic in its approximation of a dunkel. Yet...I'm on holiday, free from care, just being and also enjoying the Efes Pilsen - sharp, prickly, quick-silvered, gone. And I enjoy my drink in a pastiche of a pub, run by an expat Irishwoman, chat with the bar guys about their attitudes to Greece, the Turkish army's role in politics, the euro, Orhan Pamuk and various other flim-flam and I forget where I am - for the now I am just in a pub, a pastiche perhaps, but a pub. I am king of a small part of this universe, a noisy multi-layered universe as well; the next door bar features a bombast of metal and the bar on the other side lets out a banshee shriek of discord. And while I contemplate another Efes Dark the call to prayers from the mosque on the other side of the street floats on the air. The beers might not be the most exciting in the world (and I find my dreams drifting towards the calm carbonation of Augustiner Helles, the flutter and flurry of pine, citrus and ripe peach skin of an IPA or the yeomanry splendour of a best bitter), but in this here and now I can only write in praise of the pastiche pub.