I am sprawled on the sofa like a blimp with a pot of tea, a packet of Hob Nobs and a hangover.

Last night a friend called over. We were om a mission to check out the local nightspots in my new / his old neighbourhood.

We began in Lagoona – a sprawling, modern bar set in the ground floor of an apartment complex close to my house. It’s swish, and clean, and fancy. And has the charisma of a glass of flat, warm Diet Coke. There is nothing wrong with the place, but where I am living is kind of the financial centre in Dublin. Everything is gleaminng and modern. But in a bar that comes across as bland and soulless. The weekends are strange times in this neighbourhood – some cafes and shops shut up completely as they do their trade entirely from the office workers. Lagoona shimmered bravely, but it was empty. We left.

We crossed the road to a Korean bar / restaurant called The Drunken Fish where we had a bottle of Korean beer called Hite and a snack-platter which didn’t seem very Korean – where was the kimchi? I didn’t complain. Spicy wings, chips and dumplings aren’t to be sneered at. The Drunken Fish, like its neighbour was a ghost bar. Glistening and almost completely empty.

Now in the normal scheme of things I’m not a fan of crowded venues. But there is a tipping point below which a place becomes not pleasantly busy, but simply empty – where you almost feel like you should talk in whispers so as not to distract the staff.

We got up and left. We went up towards town and called into The Harbour Master – a place that during the week is always heaving with high-powered business people from the banks down the river – the money banks  I mean, not the river banks. It wasn’t jammed last night buy was a lot busier than the 2 previous places. But what was that strange smell – it was sort of a mix between a sewer and a cleaning bucket with unemptied water that had been sitting in the corner for a week. We left.

We crossed the tram tracks and entered a yuppie establishment called the Brew Dock – I know it is a yuppie place because it is a microbrewery. Personally I don’t understand this as a selling point. Is it impressive that the frosty bad boy you are drinking was brewed on the premises? I suppose it is. It doesn’t really inspire any feeling other than indifference in me. I’m not a beer expert. I don’t notice whether the hops have been personally named and massaged before the brewing process. The bar was so busy that we walked in and immediately turned around and left. Too much. I remember years ago the Brew Dock was some dodgy hovel of a bar where you’d fear for your life going in. I can’t remember the name. I think I preferred that place.

My friend wanted to go to an authentic auld lads’ place so we walked up Amiens Street and under the bridge was a hostelry called Clearys. We walked in – the place was crowded. We were the youngest in there by about 30 years. There were Republican posters celebrating the 1916 Rising all over the wall. Originals I’d be guessing. In fact judging by the clientele I’ll bet some have personal memories of the Rising. It was friendly enough – everyone knew everyone else in there. We felt like we were intruding on a private party, so we made our excuses and left.

By this time it was late, so we decided we would try one more place –  a dive called Molloys on Talbot Street. Now this place was clearly more recently decorated than Clearys. But Clearys had been clean.It must have been 20 years since this place had a proper wash.

We were on the periphery of a group of steaming drunk Welsh guys who were over for the rugby today (notice how I casually mentioned the rugby there – my knowledge of the rugby schedule is instinctive and has nothing to do with me checking google. They all seemed happy.

We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

A very pleasant evening.

Now I am going to buy a suit. Quel horreur.

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