Sunday, October 16, 2005

End of an Era ?

Let me first of all declare that what follows is a very personal view of recent happenings in Riga, ( As all my comments/tales have been) and that whilst others may or may not share my opinions - what I have written has not been influenced by any other member of our little group, although I fear I am not alone in my concerns)

This story really begins last Friday evening, when as is my habit, I meandered from my office down town, to my favourite bar ( previously mentioned as the center of our village). On entering the hostelry, there they were "THE CRETINS" - in this case apparently from the fair City of Liverpool. Albeit that S..... ( Welsh) - M........ ( Italian) were in attendance. I managed to have one pint, before deciding that I felt distinctly uncomfortable, I think it was the 20 stone Cretin, doing a "Moonie" that did it, or was it the Smaller Cretin throwing beer at a gypsy kid, begging outside the window, whatever, and with regret I headed for home.

Know as anyone who has chosen to read this blog ( and they are limited in number) - I decided from the start to refrain from naming the establishment which for many of us has become a second home, in the vain hope that any Cretins on reading my blog would not be able to identify it.

But it would appear that my efforts have been in vain, as for reasons I cannot comprehend, every "Cretin" that arrives in Riga seems to make straight for this particular bar - So to all you may have been intrigued by the name - it is De Lacey's - the most Irish of all Irish bars in Riga old town. God only knows how they find the place - Do Ryan Air have the name printed on the back of the ticket ?

I later heard that Friday night became somewhat "interesting" and this particular group were invited to depart from De Lacey's, but later re-emerged in smaller groups.

To my dismay I also learned that ( at least on THE evenings) a security guard is employed to ensure all is well - perhaps he has poor memory retention, as he seems not to remember who he has thrown out, as within hours he lets them back in. What kind of bar needs a security guard ? - in my days it was the Landlord who ruled - but as I have been advised even in the UK it is now common practice - I guess I am really getting to old - I just seem to remember better days.

So now I move forward to Saturday, when having agreed to meet S.... ( Welsh) in the afternoon, only to find that the whole of De Lacey's was awash with multiple groups of the "Cretins", so without as much as a single drink, we took ourselves off to another "Irish" pub in the old town, and guess what - it was delightfully free from "Cretins", but still selling the same beer of which I am partial.

Within minutes B......, ( Irish - maker of clothes) - chose to join us, and so we once again enjoyed our afternoon refreshments, without the "ambiance" of the English "Cretins" ( apologies to my English friends - but on this occasions they were all exclusively from England)

So what was the difference between the two bars ? - truly I do not know - although one glaring difference was that in ... ..'...... they was no SKY TV, therefore no football - could this be the reason ? - again I have no answers, but one thing is certain, it will get my ( our ?) vote of where to have a drink, at least at weekends.

To put the "Cretins" visitations into perspective, They begin to arrive as of Thursday and only finally depart on Monday night. So to all intents we have "lost" our favourite bar for five nights out of seven !! I am told that Ryan Air now have two flights day from Stansted and one flight per day from Liverpool - that is a potential of 600+ Cretins per day !!!

Which brings me to today ( Sunday) - having spent a glorious afternoon walking in the sunshine around the Open Air Museum ( needless to say - a Cretin free zone) - I took myself once more back into the Old Town to ascertain if I could relax within De Lacey's - and of the course the answer was NO - there they were stuffing pints down there throats, and watching the "game" - and just like Saturday I swiftly departed.

One comment in regards to Sunday, the whole benefit of having a "local" is the knowledge that when you enter the chances are that you will know at least one person in the bar with whom you can enter into a little banter with - Not today, with the exception of I...... ( bar person) - I did not know a single person. What is more worrying where were all of my friends, who I know enjoy a beer on a Sunday afternoon ?

To my mind, two things are happening due I am sure to arrival of these "Cretins" - the bar staff you were ( and I mean all of them) were warm and friendly - are now becoming increasingly stressed out - Can you imagine one bar person for nearly 50+ Cretins in bar ( that was today), and regretfully I am now considering seeking another establishment, where I can escape from this madness.

All of us, and particularly myself tend to treat our local, as if it were "ours" - of course it is not, it is a commercial enterprise, which must choose what kind of customers it wishes to attract and which it does not.

Whether by choice or accident De Lacey"s has attracted the "Cretins". It is not alone in doing so - but, and it is a big but - it also happens to be the smallest Irish/British bar in Riga - So what appears to be a crowd in one bar becomes an army in De Lacey's.

At a guess, this weekend the average size of a group of Cretins was between 16 - 20. So when you get 3 or 4 of these groups arriving on mass - Well I leave it to your imagination. Remember only two Toilets !

For those of you who fond memories of your local pub or bar back "home" - what do you think would happen if the same "Cretins" arrived therein ?

So what of our little group - well if this weekend was any judge I ( we ?) are voting with our feet - For my part I truly hope that this is just a temporary phenomenon, and that in time we can once again return to having a bar that feels "ours".

I appreciate that the foregoing comments, reflect those of an older generation (OK - in my case a seriously older generation), and someone with somewhat conservative tastes ( I admit to ironing my socks), but as I said at the outset of this blog ( Welcome to Scot in Riga) - perhaps there is room for a bar which "bars" the Cretins.

Role on Tuesday


Anonymous S- - - - - - (Welsh) said...

As an avid reader of your blogsite and often mentioned participant in most of the activities referred to therein,I can only but agree with your observations.
The bar proved to me a refuge for a stranger in a strange land, its biggest advantage over my previous Riga haunt The Dickens was that the music was somewhat quieter (?) and the bar staff and owner friendly and always ready to listen to fair criticism and would, where at all possible, help the regulars in any way they could,and dare I say it probably still would.I can personally say the vertically challenged one has on more than one occassion helped me out of several problems.However the biggest advantage the bar once held was the air it generated created an ambience where people who hitherto had held little more than a nodding relationship actually have developed genuine friendships.I quite idependently of the blogger have noticed the lack of "regulars" on an alarmingly greater number of occassions! As one of the merry group described in an earlier chapter of this blogsite,but one who is not permanantly in Riga,I can say that a comforting fact when returning (sometimes reluctantly) to Riga was the fact that I would meet up with the merry band mentioned and have a beer and "put the world to right"....sadly no longer the case.

The bar staff,who I think are fantastic and work very hard have as stated lost their sparkle, but who can blame them? Bars are commercial enterprises of that there is no doubt but also I would like to think that this particular hostelry does not forget that as I recall it was established by a group of splendid gentlemen with an aim and that aim was yes to make it a commercial success but also to give to a group of people a service missing in the City.

Will it take one evening, or more likely a Saturday afternoon (Chelsea v Liverpool and the wrong word)and a punch up, broken windows...the picture is clear and the word regret will come to the owners minds.

The position is not irreversable,it can never be what it once was,Ryan Air have decided that,BUT it can be better!

10:38 am  

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