Published: May 29th 2012May 29th 2012
"Mr Spielberg, Mr Spielberg ! How do you want me ? What's my inspiration ?"
"You guys just stay sitting at the bar, he (the star) will be in between you doing his piece to camera while you talk among yourselves."
What can you say ? A late night in a faraway bar and someone pointing a film camera at us, saying talk among ourselves. Hmmm. A Scotland trip. What are we going to talk about ?
"So, how strong was Hattie Jacques' gusset ?"
"How did Kirk Broadfoot ever play for Scotland ?"
We had decided to expand our horizons and leave the comfort of Tbilisi's Old Town bars. We made about fifty yards and found the Scarlet Sails. Deciding on a beer before going too far, we stepped inside, much darker than outside, "Three beers, please", felt at home. A band was setting up, there were bar stools and, always a sign of a proper pub, coat hooks.
Scarlet Sails ... one of the all time great bars
The clientele were a mix of youngsters trying to find their adulthood and adults trying to find their youth. As the band warmed up and got going, one young cadet du space danced on his own for most of the evening. I liked that - not harming anyone !
A lone American seemed as if he expected everyone to be impressed simply by the fact of him being American. "Hey, it's the Russian girls !", he yelled to a table of girls and a response of apathy. None of us made eye contact with him.
The band were excellent and we never moved on. The owner, whose origins I hazily remember as a mix of Azerbaijan, Russia and a few years in Birmingham, was herself an amazing character, and was generous with the whisky.
Our star .... and two new stars
A TV crew had been working at the far end of the bar making some local show. They had been there since before we arrived and moved towards our end with their filming. We got talking to one of the crew who explained they were part of the main soap opera in Georgia.
Eventually, the magic words, "Would you mind helping us with our filming ?" Our role was to sit with the star in our midst, doing a long talk to camera, surrounded by his barfly friends, i.e. us, drinking and talking among ourselves. Filming was obviously in Georgian and so we, speaking English, had a completely free choice of subject. Obviously, Hattie Jacques and Kirk Broadfoot.
Actually, this was all harder than it sounds. As well as talking without peeing ourselves laughing, we had to take a big gulp and put our drinks down at the right time, or, as we say in the trade, on cue. Needless to say, quite a few attempts, quite a few gulps. And new stars were born !
Mr Spielberg was delighted. The crew moved to the courtyard outside to continue their filming. That week's observant viewer would have seen John Green at the pub door window doing his amazing Eric Morecambe impersonation.
So, if anyone in Georgia ever asks you who is this Hattie Jacques, now you know why.
And, a final comment on Scarlet Sails. Some bars are blessed. It opened the day before the Scotland game in Tbilisi I mentioned at the top ! Could a pub landlord get any luckier ?
Next stop ..... Big Brother Georgia
About three hours before our flight home
Tbilisi ... one of the best