Write me:
skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com

Friday, 17 December
Interlude (Travel Day)

After leaving Wexford, we had one more night in Dublin before going back to England. This night was so unremarkable that I'm not even going to bother to try and dress it up with any lies. We had dinner somewhere and then a few drinks at the Long Hall, where the only thing that amused me was when I ordered (for the wife) a Harp at the bar. The very efficient bartender actually took two steps away from me to fill the order before his neurons fired. He wheeled on me. "ARP?" he shouted. "NO ARP!"

I don't know if ordering Harp is a dumb American thing to do; I tend to assume that when traveling, any time someone tells me "No" that I've done something stupid. I quickly just asked for a cider.

The next day was dedicated solely to travel; we had to get from our hotel in Dublin to Bath. Geographically speaking, this is kind of the equivalent of me driving to Spokane. In reality, of course, things were much different. Here's what had to happen--each step of the journey, incidentally, costing simply fantastic amounts of money, particularly when taking into account the supine posture the American dollar has adopted against European currencies:

Dublin hotel --> Dublin airport --> Gatwick Airport --> Gatwick Express --> Victoria Station --> Paddington Station --> Bath train station --> Bath hotel.

To be honest, things on the whole went incredibly smoothly, all things considered. Our cab ride to the airport was made pleasant by a typically garrulous driver named Tony. ("He took a gamble on old Tony there!" he cried when a pedestrian made the dumb move of stepping in front of his cab. A London taxi driver would have accelerated, I guarantee.) Tony regaled us with his own travel stories, proudly telling us of his adventures in certain US cities such as Juneau and Branson.

And Dublin airport managed to exceed our dim expectations as well simply by being far less ghastly than Gatwick. (Though for some reason I am a security magnet. I was taken from my seat at the gate to have my carryon inspected by the most humorless man on Earth; he poked at my gloves with a little stick, which for some reason tickled me. Yes, there's a bomb in my gloves. The wife commented on the fact that I get singled out for these things more than anyone she has ever known. I am proud to say that I have been given the security business in four different countries; a couple years ago, the Belgians practically cavity-searched me.)

The RyanAir flight was just fine--quite by chance, we were among the first dozen to board, so choice seats at the front were ours. The Gatwick airport--like any airport--was much more of a pleasure to leave than to enter. The express train to Victoria was typically fine, as was the cab ride to Paddington (only three pedestrian casualties!), where we happily went to the counter to purchase tickets for the next train to Bath.

The teller scrunched up his face. "When do you want to go?"

Was this a trick? "Now would be nice. The next train?"

He smiled. "If you travel now, it's peak time. It'll be ninety pounds a ticket."

This wasn't in Rick Motherfucking Steves. The counterman continued on. "But if you wait until after 7:30, it's only thirty pounds."

7:30 was three hours away. This certainly dented our day's schedule, but there was hardly any way we were going to be nailed for the difference. We waited; I had a brief temper tantrum about this once we reached the outside, but it subsided once we realized that there was a nearby pub (THE PRIDE OF PADDINGTON!), and I wouldn't be stuck in the station staring at brisk Londoners.

Eventually, we boarded the train, and we were feeling pretty good about how things had been going. Yes, the wait was a bit of a drag at Paddington, but everything else had been pretty smooth. We found seats and sat down. All was well.

And then they arrived. A man and a woman, clearly drunk, and they sat across the aisle one row back from us. They immediately smashed their faces together for a while, engaging in some seriously enthusiastic tongueplay accompanied by a musical variety of grunts and moans. Oh, lord.

If only they'd just done that for the whole trip. But no.

Everyone else in the car was doing their level best to ignore them (and this was a milk run; the train stopped at every little town like Grumbleton and Yob's Knob and Corkbutt--we all prayed they'd leave, but no, they were going to fucking Brixton), but after a bit they left off their clumsy amory to--what else--pour some wine.

I looked over when I heard the generous glug-glug-ery, and--look, this isn't nice, but fuck them--I have to say that they were really very ugly people. The fellow looked like something poorly die-stamped at a factory in China, and the woman . . . well, she looked like several miles of wagon trail. Together, they resembled something like a total repudiation of evolutionary tactics, and I imagined that their children would all come out looking like broken chairs or puddles of botched stew. I mean, ugly. There was no getting around it. I speak as someone pretty funny-looking myself.

And on they drank, particularly the woman, and they carried on loudly in conversation. She would ask, over and over, "So whadyew really think of me?" She really only had to look at any other passenger's face for that answer. To his credit, the guy did try to shush her some, but it was hopeless. Things really got exciting after the second round of glugs: God knows what die-stamp guy did to provoke the response, but all of a sudden the wife and I were jerked out of semi-successful attempts to nap by her piercing scream: "PERVERT!"

We sleepily thrashed for a moment at nothing, and then swiveled to see who was getting mauled. Nobody. The harridan laughed uproariously at the entire car's response.

Later, the club car announced over the PA that it still had some snacks left for purchase. She erupted again. "SHUT UP! WE DON'T WANT YOUR HORRIBLE GONE-OFF SANDWICHES!" Then she cackled some more, and belched. It was like AbFab with all of the humor carefully removed. The car was deathly silent in a very English way.

Finally, we reached Bath, where we hurled ourselves off the train; the awful couple were apparently continuing on to the hellmouth of Brixton (I only insult Brixton, of which I know nothing, because THEY were going there). Bath--sweet Bath!--where we had been cautioned that travel-wise, was only worth a day or two. We planned on staying there for six.

Roam | Skot | 17 Dec, 2004 |

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


He wheeled on me. "ARP?" he shouted. "NO ARP!"

Maybe he thought you were looking for Garp. Or maybe he was Garp. Did the barkeep have a cranial scar and an impressive erection?

Comment number: 005326   Posted by: 6y on December 17, 2004 06:29 AM from IP:

hahahaha. oh skot, you slay me. seriously.

Comment number: 005327   Posted by: kristin on December 17, 2004 08:20 AM from IP:

If get abused for ARP, you should try ordering SMITHIX (Smithwick's). Anyone under age 50 will get a real look ordering that, as it's strictly a geezer beer.

CARLSBERG is a safe bet for lager. MILLER and BOODWAYSER are also very popular with the yoonger set, but they're very dear over there, aren't they?

Comment number: 005328   Posted by: bikeboy on December 17, 2004 09:15 AM from IP:

That is the funniest one sentence description of an ugly man that anyone has ever written in the history of writing. Congratulations.

Comment number: 005329   Posted by: Lala on December 17, 2004 01:51 PM from IP:

If get abused for ARP, you should try ordering SMITHIX (Smithwick's). Anyone under age 50 will get a real look ordering that, as it's strictly a geezer beer.

Heh. I ordered it several times, and thought it was tasty. Ah well.

I've tried Carlsberg, and well, thought it was horrible. I'm weird.

Comment number: 005330   Posted by: Skot on December 17, 2004 02:07 PM from IP:

Smithwick's is tasty; I've ordered it plenty and never gotten funny looks, but maybe there's some sort of chick factor at work that mitigates the geezerness. And I've always heard it pronounced "Smiddicks."

Regarding the Harp --- I used to drink it myself in the States and recieved similar incredulous looks when I ordered it in Dublin; I have since been informed that, in certain circles, "Harp" is Irish for "Culchie juice," i.e., the beer of choice for country bumpkins. Although maybe bumpkin's the wrong word, and conveys too mild a disapprobation --- "Culchie" has about the insult wattage of "redneck" though without the racist connotation.

Comment number: 005331   Posted by: Diablevert on December 17, 2004 02:51 PM from IP:

"The fellow looked like something poorly die-stamped at a factory in China"
Can't stop laughing...

Comment number: 005332   Posted by: CG on December 17, 2004 03:33 PM from IP:

Dublin Airport is quite a leg up from Gatwick, isn't it? It wasn't always like that, unfortunately - I remember when I was a kid, Dublin Airport was half of the size that it is now, and much much more depressing.

As a Dubliner, I have to say that Harp is the worst thing to ask for in a pub, but only because it's absolutely awful - you're much better off ordering a Smithwick's or Bass, or even a Carlsberg.

Comment number: 005333   Posted by: marie on December 18, 2004 03:05 PM from IP:

great stuff. can't wait to read more.

thanks and warmest! - hugh

Comment number: 005334   Posted by: hugh on December 19, 2004 06:00 PM from IP:

I like Smithwicks. But I also like paying a woman to masturbate in front of me, so what do I know.

Jason Mulgrew
Internet Quasi-Celebrity

Comment number: 005335   Posted by: Jason Mulgrew on December 20, 2004 07:13 AM from IP:

I like Smithwicks. But then again, I also like paying women to masturbate in front of me, so what do I know?

Jason Mulgrew
Internet Quasi-Celebrity

Comment number: 005336   Posted by: Jason Mulgrew on December 20, 2004 07:15 AM from IP:

Yeah, Harp has always tasted very thin and bitter. Sort of watered-down, carbonated earwax. On the other hand, a friend once told me that it is quite drinkable on a hot and sunny day when served at the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Unfortunately, there are very few pubs in Dublin with liquid nitrogen facilities and even fewer hot and sunny days.

Comment number: 005337   Posted by: The Lung Brothers on December 20, 2004 07:51 AM from IP:

I'm loving this trip. I'm also loving the hilariousness of it all.

Comment number: 005338   Posted by: panajane on December 20, 2004 06:05 PM from IP:

Post a comment