It was called Finnegan’s Wake.
Seemingly small from the outside, but large on the inside (perhaps akin to the Weasley’s tent in The Goblet of Fire!), the pub in Old Town Edinburgh had one large room, a band stand, bar tables, and other rabbit warren-esque rooms and stairwells going off it like a maze.
My friend was about to start performing in his cover band, Big Tuna. I slung a guitar over my shoulder and helped them carry the gear into the already packed pub. Then, it was my cue to fend for myself.
Being alone in a pub/club was very different for me. I became incredibly aware of everything around me, the looks people gave me, the men trying to get into women, the women trying to get into men. The self-confidence that comes with a pint or a vodka coke. The mis-interpreted lyrics as they are yelled out across the floor. I stood near the bar, backed up against the wall, my boots crunching on broken glass, my hand in a bag of chips, and a beer in the other. A guy looked at me from his table, and at the chips, and smiled. I probably looked really cool. Later, I saw him making out with a girl who had been sitting next to him.
I was suddenly twirled around by a 40-something to Brown-Eyed Girl who said “You’re brilliant!” 10 times in a row, getting a little too close to me, so I said “I’m off to the bathroom!”
When I emerged from the bathroom, he was gone. Phew.
Big Tuna was the kind of cover band me and my friend Kate would have been dancing to on a Friday night at Molly Malones, and leaning over the rails saying to the band, “Play Mumford & Sons, wouldja?” My friend Bryce said they hate it when people request songs. Insider knowledge. I’m with the band.
I started feeling more at ease with being alone, when I ordered two vodka cokes (I had no cash, and the minimum spendage on my card was £5…) and stood there eating my chips and dancing with myself. That’s when I met them.
A young Edinburghian group of university students. Four guys and a girl.
To make matters strange, they were exactly like the characters from The Secret History (the book I’m currently reading and a little bit obsessed with). The guy who looked like a slightly chubbier Bunny Corcoran motioned with his finger to come dance with them. I put down my chips, and shimmied my way over to them. The guy who looked like Francis shook my hand, (cannot for the life of me remember their actual names) and smiled, and then turned and kissed his girlfriend. Let’s call her Camilla (even though they would NOT be kissing had they been the actual characters..no). Then Henry came over. Oh, Henry. He was tall, wore a tweed jacket and a cheese grater cap. They were all so close in the way they interacted with one another, I felt so happy and safe with them.
“He’s just making fun of me because my family are farmers!” Francis yelled at me. Bunny’s back was to us as he stalked off to get another drink.
“What?! There’s nothing wrong with that!” I yelled, over Little Lion Man. “I grew up on a farm!” He hi-fived me, then showed me his lock screen on his phone which was a Highland cow. His family breed them, apparently.
When the band started the familiar chords of Galway Girl, I lost it. I’ve always wanted to dance to that in a pub, ever since I saw Gerard Butler sing it to Hilary Swank in P.S I Love You.
I was happy.
It was one of those moments where I almost stopped and took a mental picture of it, because I know it’s one I’ll want to cherish. It’s the little things, right?
When the band was done, and it was time to go, I said a quick goodbye and zipped away. I’ll probably never see them again, but it was exciting just being apart of their little group for one, sweaty hour. Jamie and the Edinburgers.
I then waited in the car at 2am for my friend, reading The Secret History.
Saturday 12 December 2015