17 March 2008
Complete with heavy vault doors and safety deposit boxes 'The Bank' on Rue du Bailli rides the flavour of an old-world moneyhouse into a modern day speakeasy. Of course, being nominally an 'Irish Bar' there are plenty of beers (Guiness and Harp and the like) on tap, and enough TV screens to catch the international football and rugby -the staple visual accompaniment of these types of places.
This most recent Friday, the day in question, the subtle changes that had been occuring over past weeks had now become impossible to explain away:
Whereas before I had observed the unspoken rule of speaking only English with Irish bar staff, I had of late been tempted to respond to the sudden appearance of s'il vous plaits, and merci's in kind.
The fancy modern chandeliers I had only recently noticed, may have in fact, been only recently installed.
The pleasant mix of nostalgic rock that I had become accustomed to had been replaced by crappy generic house music and was being played uncomfortably loud. Perhaps not just at the whim of that one bartender. Hey where is that guy?
The Bank is all of a sudden spelling its name 'banco', in all lowercase, modern font.
What the fuck is going on here? It was really the name change that made me understand:
So long comfortable watering hole, hello painfully desperate attempt to be hip. Ha ha. banco. I get it.
As if the old Irishman you had befriended had all of a sudden gotten his nose pierced, and started putting soy sauce on everything he cooked. 'Hey! I like fusion cooking.' he'd say, trying to water down his rich brogue, 'Oh, and I'm thinking of trading in my shitty old mandolin. I only listen to hard restaurant house these days.'
Mere blocks away is another Irish Bar of a sort. Monkey Business. Known for its excellent Mexican cuisine, it was known by me as a place where gli Italiani, usually fans of AS Roma, can all gather and cheer on our giallorossi. Last time I was there (to watch Roma beat Real Madrid and progress to the QF of the Champions League) I was informed that they were closing down. The reason? The new landlord wasn't interested in having them around. Dumped.
There goes my neighborhood.
The eclectic mix of gift shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and cafes are slowly squeezing out the downmarket and popular to make room for high-end. What is lost is the fact that part of the charm of Rue de Bailli and the surrounding environs is precisely the mix of unfashionable and comfortable that is being eradicated, to make room for the same old bar, with brand new airs.
Hey Uncle Seamus, put on your fancy pants, put some pomade in your hair, let's go out for some spring rolls!