Edinburgh seemed to have two distinct faces, at least back in those days. There were the intellectual and political set, those people who interested themselves in the pursuit of knowledge and the practice of power. They were always having debates about such things as Edinburgh’s place in the nation, and the cultural heritage that Scotland had bestowed on the world. Ruby’s association with the University, and then her job in the library gave her an introduction into this world, and it seemed that she was a natural for it. She had mentioned the Student Union to me during her time studying at the University, and now she became an active graduate organizer for it. Ruby developed an interest in politics too, and her firm line for independence for Scotland lead to many lively debates.
But there was another Edinburgh, away from the university buildings and the political discussions. This world was all about hedonism and enjoying life, rather than talking about it, and it was an area that was second nature to me. I’d been working at the VooDoo for a month or so when I heard of an opportunity with a new piano bar that was opening in New Town. The idea of a piano bar was new to me, a place that was just a bar with a keyboard player. It was clearly not a traditional pub, and the music depended on what the audience wanted. The musician played for tips only, and the bar would be open for as long as people wanted to buy drinks. I went to see the new owner as they were still fitting out the bar, and was soon installed as one of the two duty managers at the newly opened “Fingers Piano Bar.”
On opening night, Angel and Alistair, and some of our friends from VooDoo were there, along with a crowd of people attracted by our opening specials. After the first week, it was clear that we were going to be a success, and it was interesting to see how the punters changed with the time of day.
We opened at 5 pm every day, and the first customers were normally smartly dressed people having a drink before going to the theater or a concert, and our keyboard player would gently play some classics in the background. Later the after-dinner drinkers arrived and the tempo quicken up, as did our sales of the better wines and single malt whiskeys. As it got later still, this group was joined by the after theater drinkers, and then by those moving on from other drinking places. The crowd got larger and noisier, until by around 1 am the place was heaving with people singing and dancing, and drinking anything they could get their hands on. We carried on serving until there the crowd thinned out, usually by 3 am, but sometimes it was 5 before we shut up shop.
I was called a manager, and my job was mainly to make sure the punters were kept happy and to help break up the occasional fight that inevitably happened. We didn’t mind if some of our late night crowd needed to sleep on one of our benches for a while, just so long as their friends kept on buying. It was an entirely different experience from running the pub back in Lynn. Here, there were very few regulars that came in day after day. It was more a transient crowd, made up of businessmen, visitors, and groups out solely to live it up in the capital city.