Monday, July 19, 2004
I now pronounce you Leprechaun!
So this flying thing, frills (or is it thrills?) or no frills, it’s not bad, is it? Ryanair from Bournemouth to Dublin, 40 minutes late, arrived at half past six or so on Friday evening.
Take-off is like going over a humpback bridge without coming down on the other side; if you look out of the window without thinking as the plane banks in order to turn you might lose your lunch the first time, but just close your eyes and lean your head back and it’s fine. The second time and third time and every other time afterwards it becomes a fascinating experiment on spotting what it is below – is that a river or a road? I shall rue the day when flying is so commonplace that gasping at the clouds (you can step out onto them and walk around, surely?) and scenery becomes second choice to closing your eyes and drifting off for the duration.
Landing, the plane shakes and grinds as the brakes shudder under the immense weight (Boeing 737 200 series, I believe) and speed (cruising @ 500mph and 25,000 feet on the way there – 33,000 feet on the way back and trimmed ten minutes off the flight time, for which I am grateful and concerned). I’d be worried but the steward with the big nose who did a chicken impression (you try and signal to a colleague that you need 2 chicken soups in a noisy and cramped plane) seems relaxed so, you know, sit back and relax yourself. So yeah, I enjoyed flying, and I’m pretty keen to do it again. (James leaps for joy, Todd stifles a groan in case I hit New York [how does October sound for a weekend?], everybody else says “how the fuck did you not manage to go abroad for the first 25 years of your life?”, Nick shrugs and smiles.)
The gap between Dublin Airport and Dublin proper was like Britain but fucked. The roadworks were grubby and untidy and looked to be being carried out with impossibly basic equipment, and the traffic lights were old and tatty. Plus the taxi driver appeared not to care about stopping at the lines, going so far forward as to not be able to see the red light anymore and thus having to judge when it was green by whether any of the other cars were moving. Already I both liked and disliked this place. There were some horses and a knackered barn that appeared to be hundreds of years old.
Dublin itself… well, I don’t know what it was like one year ago, or five years ago (pre-Euro) or ten years ago of fifty years ago, but now it is… like being in Any City, Any Where. Sure, the river is cleaner and clearer than London or even Bristol, but Temple Bar could be part of Soho, Grafton Street could be Manchester, if you replaced the leprechaun tat with fake plastic tits then the gift shops could be in Blackpool. Sure, the thing about the Guinness being different is true (it tastes more like the bottled stuff than the draught that we get over here, but with the creamy texture, and by golly is it cold! I always shunned the Extra Cold stuff in pubs here because it chills the taste off [all comes from the same barrel, the EC stuff just comes in the lager cooler pipe], but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Ireland) but we still had a couple of dodgy pints first thing on Saturday morning. (The fact that it was 11am and we were hungover like dogs might have contributed…) You can pay extortionate prices for beer in any city (and Dublin is expensive if you stay in the centre; whether it cheapens as you move away I can’t say, but I can only hope so for the sake of people who live there), and as a result Dublin didn’t seem like a different culture particularly. People get wankered everywhere. Sure the escapology act at 11pm in Temple Bar Square was great (so great, in fact, that everyone else in our party had gone by the time I broke my attention away from it – as Best Man was it my prerogative to make sure no one went missing? Yes, so of course I go missing for two hours myself) and the buskers were great and the beer was great, but Irish accents only made up about 50% of the voices I heard, the rest being Czech or Asian or Swedish or Lahndahn (anywhere in Britain barstaff are Irish or Australian – in Dublin they’re all East Asian, HOW DOES THAT WORK oh of course, silly me…).
The best bit about Dublin is either the grounds of the university in the city centre (grand, granite, hermetically sealed from the outside world, hiding an enormous sunny field and stacked-on-steps pavilion bar like UCN done properly) or else the Spire, which stands incongruous in the middle of the road, 250, maybe even 300 feet tall, chrome, unreal and bizarre and maddeningly constructed, tapered and gleaming in such a way that you can’t tell if it narrows to a point or just recedes into the distance with perspective – is it 300ft or 100ft or a mile high? (We stayed 100 yards from it, and it was good to navigate by when lost.)
The stag do… There was some nonsense, of course. Some public nudity and a leprechaun costume and a book of druidic lore and a chant and some runes drawn on a groom with pink highlighter and LOTS of drinking and Eggs Benedict for brunch washed down with three cups of tea and a three-hour game of football against some Swedes (including a girl who was better [possibly because she was less pissed] than the groom and who spoke English with the best Irish accent I heard across the whole weekend) and a lapdancing club- WAIT. omglolwtf?! A lapdancing club? The least sexy place I have ever been. Sweaty, dingy, overpriced (60 Euros for a bottle of
piss white wine or am I mental?! Not as mental as Gavin – he paid it). I’m looking at my watch and seeing the date is now July 17th because it’s past midnight and all I can thing about is the fact that it’s now my girlfriend’s birthday and what the fuck am I doing in here when I love her? Take your cunt out of my face please. Can I have some ice with my water please? It’s wine? I wondered why it was in a funny glass. One chap opposite is almost foetal, coiling himself away from the women, seemingly all Eastern European (no nice Catholic girls in here), in some kind of terrified Oedipal shiver, the weight of Christian sexual guilt too much to stand. Eventually they drag him off to the curtained area for a 30 Euro dance (two men, bred from bulldogs and hippos, stand and watch for ‘funny stuff’, men on either side have Czech fanny shoved in their faces and pay an extra 10 Euros to be able to go into the side room and use a tissue, I presume, HOW ON EARTH IS THIS SEXY, the girl is gazing into the mirror behind your head as she clockworks through moves, aware that there’s no hope of response or extra cash from this guy because he keeps looking at his watch and mumbling, so she calls it quits and the men on either side are still getting off on this charade) but the fat man who is trying to call all the girls over is not led by the hand because even money is not worth that. Dave tries the psychology gambit – “you’re far too nice to work in a nasty place like this; why do you do it?” “oh no!” and the girl walks away, not another moralist, what are you doing here and frankly Dave doesn’t know either (the next day Dave will break his wrist, I will wrench my groin again, Gavin will fuck his knee, Terry will do likewise and Matt will hurt his back and face and nose - drunken football is bad, kids).
We nearly missed the flight back because Matt read 15.25 as 5.25pm. We did the Guinness brewery tour for 13 Euros but skipped to tour to go straight for the Gravity Bar and the free pint, making it the most expensive pint of the trip. Two idiots tried to murder us by driving stupidly on the way home. As soon as we’d got inside sign-distance of Exeter Mickey flew past us in his Audi (he’d been waiting ages).
The wedding is in August. I ought to write a speech.
7/19/2004 04:38:00 pm