A Civilized Game: Darts
The following is excerpted from “The Book of Darts” because quite frankly, I couldn’t say it better myself.
“Darts is a game of the people. To play one does not have to join a special or exclusive club or invest in expensive equipment. Much of the game’s character derives from its traditional home, the English pub, which is not merely a place to drink but a social institution.
The most important characteristic of the pub is that it is “local.” To many, having a good local pub is as important an amenity s public transportation or shops. It is common to be asked, especially if you have recently moved, “What’s your local like?” It is difficult to define a good “local.” Certainly it means having good beer (about which much controversy rages among the experts). It also means having a comfortable atmosphere without being pretentious. The ultimate test, however is - is it friendly? Are you made to feel welcome? In a good local, the regular patrons, the landlord, and his staff know each other. They may indeed know each other very well but a certain decorum is exercised in pursuing private matters. The conversation may center on local gossip, sport, or the current political scandal. The pub is the people’s equivalent of the rich men’s club. It is an enclave where friendships can exist without the pressures of work or the obligations of domestic life.
It is in this atmosphere that the game of darts has flourished. The team, if the pub has one, will be both a local and a somewhat casual affair. It may compete with the Jolly Gardeners down the road or the King’s Head some miles away, but it will be unlikely to travel out of its own area. The game will be played seriously with a desire to win. The rivalry may be intense, but the game is ultimately governed by a spirit of conviviality.”
The Book of Darts can be found in the Civil Life Library (blog post day 36)
Baby Got Back Bar.
There is an old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and Jim and Dylan put up the additional shelves behind the back bar it definitely felt like that. Dylan remarked it looks like we are a really busy bar to which I nodded in agreement.
It is true at times, but we also know that there are many times during our early months that we have had tumble weeds rolling through our pub and that the employees out number the customers. It’s okay though, as I have been through this before and I know great things do not happen over night and that building a foundation of great regulars is more important than trying to achieve huge spikes in customer counts.
Tuesdays at the pub our our slowest day and in some ways my favorite as many times it means we can slip into some nice long conversations and having a bit more time to revel in stories is the best way to build the roots we strive to achieve. Patrick and I man the bar with Mike on Tuesdays. Patrick, our resident Dr, can be relied on for the kind of conversation that should be expected in a great pub. A kind prodding will get Patrick discussing a varied amount of topics. Wednesdays roll in and are all over the place but they generally bring in a few more chaps and ladies seeking shelter from the storm. Chris arrives on both Wednesdays and Thursdays and his years of experience behind the bar and calm demeanor is a nice stabilizing force for our bar. I have an admiration for people like Chris that have spent years working in bars and restaurants. The great ones have honed their craft in a way that sitting at their bar is like going to church. By the time the weekend arrives, we never really know which way the wind blows but we do know it has a good chance to bring some new faces mixed among our growing group of regulars but Saturday DAYS are still our most favorite time to work as a consistent group of regulars stream in and many parents stop in and make our pub a true public space.
Now why you ask did you go off on this tangent. Well, simply because we know where this train is heading. We don’t know when we will get there as a business. To that point when all debt obligations are being met but we do know we are heading in that direction. And the truth is simply, if we are going to be successful we will need both more people and more glasses for those people.
So when you sit at the bar and look at the impressive amount of mugs in waiting, you can say I sat there when the Civil Life was just a young kid trying to find its place.
Give me an Irish pub any day of the week. Pour me a pint of Guinness and I’ll sit there watching the barkeeps pour beers, interact with regulars and I’ll pass the time letting my eyes wander around the pub. There are a few things I know about great pubs. One is that they share a love of craftsmanship in the age old tradition of woodworking.
There is no other way to make someone feel immediately comfortable in a new space than through the use of wood. It makes sense, wood is quite durable and can withstand the abuse of thousands of people. Bars will see more people and more use than some houses will see in a lifetime. Most beautifully as the wood ages it begins to evolve and the dents and little nicks that show up would be looked down upon in a home, but in a bar it shows that many people have drank in the spot you sit and that in some way is validation for the restorative pint you are imbibing.
Now, we have a long way to go to gain that worn pub look and honestly it is far from the time. Many people passing through our doors are caught by the newness of the place and the impressive amount of wood that went into our construction. Many people know they just don’t build places like this anymore and many more people know most people aren’t crazy enough to think they can pull it off in a warehouse. But we are doing just that.
This week, we are working on a few glass shelves behind the bar and early next week will shift gears and finish our dart board area. It will be yet another step in our quest to put before you a third place in your life. Your home, your work and your pub.
Now back to O’Donoghues. O’Donoghues in Dublin is a place where one seeks and finds traditional Irish music and it stands as one of Dublin’s elder bars. One of my favorite things in Dublin and Ireland was to seek out traditional bars which had traditional Irish music. It seems they went hand in hand. Many times, the musicians didn’t have a stage to play on and they would sit side by side at a table. Many times in arms reach of a patron enjoying a pint or two and in many cases 6 or 7.
O’Donogues shows the wear of years of patrons. It’s a comfortable place to walk into and to sit down and have a pint poured for you. If we can only be so lucky.
Thankfully, I am part Irish and part German. Seems like I was born to be a publican.
Our center snug is starting to take shape.
Last Call 2011.
Our last call speech was written, given by me and ended (well timed if I do say so myself) at midnight. We recite something at last call every night. Something shorter than this though.
Cheers and our best to you in 2012!
In the year 2011, a lot happened. Gene Sharp an american intellectual had written a 93 page guide to toppling autocrats. People read it. And soon Tunisia started protesting. Ben Ali went packing. Walk like an Egyptian became protest like an egyptian and the power of the people caused Hosni Mubarik to hand over the reigns. The Libyans who had much to do with Marty McFly traveling through time traded in that old van with that beat up shot gun and joined in some good ole fashioned protests of their own and in the end, they said good bye to moammar gadhafi. Osama bin Laden passed through our sights one final time.
Japan suffered a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that flattened their buildings, took way too many lives and challenged their economy but it never changed who the japanese are and in the midst of their darkest hour the japanese spirit was shown to the world. There was no looting, no shootings, no massive display of Authoritarian force to keep order because it was not needed.
The strongest of tornadoes ripped through Joplin and killed hundreds but thousands of people from around our state and our country banded together to lend a hand and prove that we together can emerge stronger from terrible things. Protesters occupied cities all across our country and wall street for a very brief moment in time became concerned about us on main street.
Steve Jobs who’s passion for technology helped move the world into a more interesting place passed away.
Our US Troops departed from Iraq. And our final flight of space shuttle discovery marked an uncertainty in what we will discover.
But most importantly on Sept 24th 2011, This bar, this public house had its grand opening. And on that day hundreds, maybe thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of people paraded down this street to open this public house.
And the world became a better place.
But we are now done looking behind. We must look ahead. Let’s hope that our best days await. Let’s hope that our pint is always full and that the door of this public house is always open. Let 2012 be the best year of your life. Let it be the best year of this brewery’s life.
Let’s not put our energy into critics and pessimists. Kill the pessimist in you. Let’s not fill our lives with complaining. Let’s fill our lives with pints of the Best and Pints of the brown. Lets sit side by side and drink together. Let’s revel in stories and laughter. Let’s grab our friends and head down to the pub. Let’s remember that these days are the best days. And that when friends are at your side there are not bad days. Let us seek richness not in the number of our friends but in the quality of our friendships.
Let us lean on these restorative pints when things are bad. And let us drink these trusty pints when things are good.
So we say Last Call 2011 and hello 2012.
And we end with a toast. To those that love us and to those that love those that love us.
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.