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A pint at Marble City Bar, Kilkenny Ireland

7 May 2006
Friday night I was at the Marble City Bar. I had not been there since the first week I was in town, in 2001, when I'd visited the place with some folks who were also staying in the tourist hostel further down Parliament Street.

Last night, my flatmate B_ and I were on a tour of some of the pubs here. When we passed by Marble City, he suggested it. Why not.

Marble City Bar is a bit of a frou-frou "fine dining" show — a put-on. It's decorated in a sort of pretensive elegance, with mirrors and materials of at least a fake high-quality appearance. The back of the house is an 8-or-9-table dinner area. Along the long wall to the right, just inside the front door, the bar runs from the front of the house back about 40 feet.

We sat at the front of the bar, near to the door, facing the rear.

I noticed a faint smell of rubbish, but thought I may have been mistaken. We had been, after all, visiting other pubs; it would have been thinkable that my senses had been dulled, and my interpretations of them skewed.

After some conversation and a few swigs of my beer, a Guinness that was neither the worst nor the best of the evening, I went to use the loo. On my return, B_ told me something about the two elder gentlemen to my left. "Do not engage them," he said. Don't make eye contact. Do not talk to them. I never did figure out what that was about; but I didn't need to talk to the fellows anyway, and thought nothing of it.

At a point, I noticed again the smell of rubbish, and mentioned it to B_. Yeah, he said. He'd smelled that too. I suggested that it was a bin underneath the counter, here near this end of the bar. He reckoned we ought to say something to the bartender.

When the barkeep came back down near to this end of the bar, I flagged him down and excused myself. (Saying, as is the local custom, "sorry" to mean "excuse me.")

I told him, as discreetly as I could, that I was getting a whiff of rubbish and thought he should know. He agreed that it was possible, and he suggested that it was the lemon bucket. He handled and showed us the three-to-four-gallon bucket, faux-wood outside, silverized metal inside, which was normally used to hold lemon slices or wedges.

The bucket was empty, but it was the source of the smell. The barkeep didn't clean it out, nor so much as rinse it.

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