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Tuesday, 14 December
Dublin

And so we went to Dublin, flying out via Gatwick airport, which is evidently an ongoing experiment in panic-inducement. I cannot stress enough how terror-inducing our experience was at this airport.

For one thing, the gates are all separated in multiples of (roughly) five, but these multiples are fed by single long walkways. Okay. But for whatever reason, Gatwick chooses to keep your gate designations a mystery until mere minutes before flight departure. So what happens is, several hundred desperate travelers stare fixedly at the Departure screens, waiting for the gate assignment to come up, and when it does, everyone charges into these walkways like frightened elk, throwing elbows like frightened elk who had suddenly evolved elbows. Then you come to a frightful bottleneck--without explanation of why everyone just stopped running madly--and see that this awful crush of people are being ticket-stamped by one lonely elderly gentleman doing his level best to manage a panicky charge of elbow-y elk.

This is before you even get to the gate to fight for your seat in RyanAir-style single combat. Kudos, Gatwick! You make Newark look like the Elysian fucking Fields. Let's be clear here: I would rather fly out of Newark than Gatwick. I am hard pressed to think of a more damning statement.

Once in Dublin, the wife and I were a bit stunned to learn this interesting fact: traffic in Dublin blows dead dogs. The cab ride into town was a phantasmagoria lullaby of . . . not . . . moving . . . much. I watched with interest as actual zombies passed our taxi with relatively surprising speed; the driver commented, "Yeh, the zombies er fast, but they wun't kerry yer luggage! Itch yer neck is what'chell doo!" We remained silent and continued staring at the knotted traffic going nowhere and the attendant zombie slaughter. I asked tentatively if Dublin had any sort of viable public transportation system, and received only derisive laughter.

Eventually, we reached our destination, Kelly's Hotel, a little dilapidated spot in the city center whose staff's fucking-A-ness more than made up for little details like cranky windows and bash-yer-head ceilings (at one point, they contacted the rail people for us and obtained information on several different fares and times). Knowing that earlier in the year that Ireland had, stunningly, banned smoking in public places (and being advised by a reader that this included my hotel room), I wasted little time in BREAKING THE LAW, MOTHERFUCKERS! by opening a window and defiantly half-clambering out of it to have a smoke. The wife, however, made this unnecessary by simply asking if smoking was banned at the hotel. "You can't smoke anywhere else," was the reply. "Might as well smoke in the room." (The Irish are virtually incapable of not deriding the smoking ban law; we heard countless variations on this very sentiment.)

And you can't; certainly not at the pubs. Outside of the wonderful Long Hall, an establishment right across the street from us (and a recommendation by a reader), smokers crowd in the entrance to have their precious cigarettes. One night, I met a very drunk fellow passing by who asked for a smoke; his brogue was very thick, so charades were involved in translation. Finally, I understood, and gave him one, to which he confusingly exclaimed "Odor point!" while waving his arms enthusiastically at me. Then he turned around and stumbled face-first into a metal pole, to no observable effect on his demeanor.

It was a little while before I figured out that "Odor point!" translated to, "I owe you a pint!"

And then there was Brian, whom we met while waiting in a pub for a train to Wexford from Pearse St. Station. Brian could almost be his own blog entry, but we'll do it here.

We had bought our tickets to go see friends of the wife down in Wexford, and while waiting for the train, found a pub called Kennedy's to pass the time. Brian found us at our table, accompanied by two young boys in his charge, relatives of some affiliation I never quite comprehended. Brian was the soul of Irish good charm, in (I would say) his late fifties, and full of incomplete ideas about America. He asked us where we were from. We replied that we were visiting from Seattle, Washington.

"The states!" he exclaimed. "Got the Bronx, do yer?"

We didn't have any good way of denying that, as Americans, we guessed we were stuck with the Bronx, and it seemed pointless to try and get into any geographical hairsplitting. Brian didn't care anyway. He pointed at the young boys he was herding around to little success.

"That one's a rockhopper!" he yelled. The boy mugged at us in return. "By which I mean he jumps around. All the time!" The boy obligingly jumped frantically in place, drawing dark looks from the bartender. Neither Brian nor boy gave a fuck; in the meantime, the other boy made faces from behind Brian's back.

Brian continued on with a disjointed account of the family history behind the childrens' provenance while the lads ran madly about. "He's a rockhopper, that one," said Brian again before becoming briefly serious. "I lost me wife last year."

We put on sad faces and cooed plangently, not quite knowing what to make of what was going on. Brian didn't care. "There's a lot of history here!" he brightened for some reason and waved at the window. "That hotel over there used to be a church!" Okay. The boys were becoming more and more restless; one of them grabbed Brian's hand and began tugging on it, bleating, "Can we go soon?" Brian (not for the first time) admonished him, "I'm talking!" The lad tugged again on one of Brian's fingers, prompting Brian to say, "If you pull on me again, I'll kick yer right in the nuts!" The kid laughed. Then Brian made strangling motions at us, as if to say, "You won't mind if I throttle these kids, right?" For the second time, Brian then said tenderly, "Me wife died last year, you know."

I wish I could transcribe more of what Brian said, but frankly, much of it was incomprehensible to me. There were more confused geographic questions about our proximity to certain New York touchstones interspersed with such queries like "Do ye believe in God?" and "Can ye take the rockhopper off my hands?" The latter with more neck-wringing gestures.

In the end, he left us (with the children mercifully--as yet--unkilled) with no less than four heartfelt two-handed goodbyes, making sure the kids gave us stout handshakes as well. And I swear that one of the last things he said to us--the wife's hands clasped in both of his--he breathed, quietly:

"I lost me wife last year."

Roam | Skot | 14 Dec, 2004 |

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Comments


Shitty traffic, friendly but half-crazy people, pubs named after hirsute citrus fruits - Yeah, that sounds pretty much like Dublin in a nutshell.

Glad that you got to sup in the Long Hall anyway.

I probably know most of the people that you met. They say that there are nearly 4 million people in the Republic of Ireland - that's about thirteen families.

Comment number: 005317   Posted by: The Lung Brothers on December 14, 2004 07:08 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44


Shitty traffic, friendly but half-crazy people, pubs named after hirsute citrus fruits - Yeah, that sounds pretty much like Dublin in a nutshell.

Glad that you got to sup in the Long Hall anyway.

I probably know most of the people that you met. They say that there are nearly 4 million people in the Republic of Ireland - that's about thirteen families.

Comment number: 005318   Posted by: The Lung Brothers on December 14, 2004 07:09 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44


Sorry about the repeat...first the server says no and then is says yes....such a tease.

Comment number: 005319   Posted by: The Lung Brothers on December 14, 2004 07:19 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44

Will we be seeing pictures any time soon?

Comment number: 005320   Posted by: zhaf on December 14, 2004 05:19 PM from IP: 67.171.242.6

*sigh*

I'm starting to miss my city.

Dallas really can't hold a candle to Dublin, and I'm realizing it all too painfully.

Comment number: 005321   Posted by: marie on December 18, 2004 03:17 PM from IP: 67.164.152.229

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