What is this place I’ve blindly discovered? A small, unostentatious door, but glasslight enticing me to stop, mount the pavement and look through. The door opens… and then I’m beckoned inside – to a cornucopia of visual delights (?)… but I very quickly tense slightly, as my first interpretation is that I’d inadvertently entered some kind of bordello.
It’s small, and animated by intimate inanimacy: seats, stools and walls patterned in leopard print; rugs, cushions, snakeskin octagonal studded leather-back chairs; ornamental stands; tables bedecked with all manner of odds and sods – : menus, ashtrays, candles in coloured glass holders, vases of fake flowers, trays and small baskets of sweets, chess sets, Connect 4, playing cards – but look up: pictures, including religious iconography, (huge) gaudy mirrors, drapes (leopard-print again), lifebelts, plastic shrubbery, flashing coloured lights, the flattened skin of a python snaked round a spiral staircase, baubles, stars, fans, lamps, flashing lights, huge-leafed plants – I’m conjuring up images of a Muslim martyr’s picture of heaven (where’s the grapes?) – antique brass cash register
–—- children’s colouring books and pens. (Thought: Don’t leave own stuff lying around; could be mistaken for part of the furniture.) And a beautiful attendant behind the bar, who I quickly realised I’d be happy to, err, spend time with………
So, where is everyone?
Opens at 10 pm; closes at 6 am!
I’m informed, after paying €8 for my White Russian, that I must sign a membership card. Still slightly wary, I alter my signature… “Where are you from?” “Southampton” (which I’m not) “– near London”, I approximate. Seems okay. And I’m intrigued enough – and stimulated – to stay a bit longer. Why the feck not?
So, I settle down with my drink and my book, and help myself to the canapés, mushrooms, olives, sticked with flags; plates, napkins… oh, the bar lady with the hair thing. She jokes that her name is “Cleopatra.” Flirts with me in that crafty way that beguiles men into buying more drinks; talking to me about proximal cities; not offended by my protestation when she curtails Amy Winehouse’s version of ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ on the sound system. She likens me to ‘The (“Brothers”) Big Lebowski’, on account of the White Russians, which my growing deluded optimism reads as a connection. Ordering my next, I stipulate, “No ice” (I’m crafty too, me).
I ask if we can exchange contact details, and venture my E-mail address, and she reciprocates with her myspace.
The next night, the light is on, the door is locked, and no-one responds to my ringing and knocking. My mistake, perhaps – the previous night, I did neither.
Of course, I never hear from her. I looked up her myspace page, which states her age as 942.