This was one of my first brushes with legal action. The owner of the bar called me up asking why I’d called his sister a prostitute. He gave me loads of shit on the phone, threatened to get the publication closed down and then was never heard from again. I hadn’t actually set out to suggest his sister turned tricks but there’s no telling how people will interpret your words…
Sober Lane makes huge efforts to distract you from the main reason you’re there. WI-FI in every last corner of the building, heavy-topped pizzas on demand till late into the evening, home-made scones flying out of the dumb waiter (where aren’t they home-made these days? Cork’s grannies must be flat-out all the time), table quizzes and live music. Yes, a poor soul could be forgiven for forgetting to order a drink when faced with the myriad sideshows on offer. And when you order that drink, and another one and another you can also be forgiven for thinking you’d had fifteen times that many – don’t worry weary drinker, the piano you see on the bar counter is real, well I don’t know if it’s real but I’m certain it’s not imaginary.
Imaginary, is my ability to play darts. Sober Lane has a board in the corner, but I’m convinced it’s much smaller than regulation size and that it employs intelligent design to avoid being hit and also has a protective surface, so even if you do find your target, your dart bounces off and everyone laughs, uncontrollably. You can try and sneak off to the smoking section to recover lost pride, but as it’s built with large windows, they’ll have seen your efforts too and be laughing just as hard as the people on the inside – albeit a wheezy, sputtering, smoker’s laugh.
Sober Lane is a strange bar. It looks a bit like a warehouse with office partitions put in place by a team of blind, Albanian interior designers. They were also responsible for choosing the bar’s artwork, and the Albanian nations love of movie stars from the fifties and prostitutes from right now is evident throughout. I inquired as to why they had a 6’ by 6’ oil painting of what, to all intents and purposes looks like a sex worker, on the wall but was met by a stony silence. I asked the piano but got nothing out if it either. I could only conclude that the painting was indeed a portrait of a family member and going any further with my investigation would cause offence and possibly grievous bodily harm.
I did however ask about the name, wondering why a bar would name itself after the one thing that would force it out of business. It’s a bit like a restaurant calling itself ‘Famished’, or maybe a shop that sells heaters going under the name ‘Freezing Steven’s’ or something. Apparently it owes its name to history and as we all know history is boring, and at the risk of boring you, poor deluded reader, I’ll stop. Now.