November 3rd, 2005

The Different Drummer

Every so often a new horseman needs to ride into town. And so, one dawn, on a Vespa, the Different Drummer sailed into the Place de la Comedie.

He'd been travelling through Europe for months. A night here. Two nights there. A battered leather jacket, a mohawk pointing towards the sky like an avenging angel sent from heaven or hell.

He didn't know that Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub was about to change his life.

That morning, I suppose, he went to the Comedie with his weapon of choice - the bodhran drum, that Irish rebels and warlords have used for years to call Celtic spirits to their side. People, I imagine, threw him coins as they have to vagabond musicians and prophets for hundreds of years.

When he first took stick to drum that day, he had no way of knowing that his destiny was in his hands.

After collecting his offerings, the Different Drummer could have gone back to his hotel with a bottle of wine, fallen asleep, and rode off into the night in search of a new town and new people to play for.

He could have taken a walk to the right of the Comedie and explored the long green Esplanade. He could even have headed off to the Gambetta and rented a woman for an hour's eternal pleasure and a spirit's eternal pain.

The Different Drummer did none of these things. Instead he ambled through crooked streets and stumbled upon Fitzpatrick's.

There, he played his drum for us. We sat transfixed. Soon, others were playing with him. For once, good Irish music blared through the double doors and out onto the streets. Neighbors must have wondered if the bar had changed hands. After seven years of crap music, the sounds of angels seem odd.

Lurch saw potential and talked the Different Drummer into staying another night and then another. Within a week or two he was standing proud behind the bar. Next came a girlfriend, who transformed into a wife. After that, a beautiful daughter.

He was one of us - and yet different. Responsible. A role model of sorts. Living proof that there is life beyond the bar and in addition to Guinnness.

His mohawk is long gone and soon he shall leave us.

But the memory remains.

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