I’ve said little about my tax-dodging jaunt to Ireland, which is a shame because it was my first time there and I really enjoyed it. A picture, it is claimed, says a thousand words, and so I have ten pictures here, thus ten thousand words, which by anyone’s reckoning is a fair whack.
This first picture is of the enchanting Eileen and her inflatable bed. It was taken on the Friday night I arrived, after we’d gone out for a fair serving of drinks with some of Eileen’s improbably young friends (they were about 22 – monstrously young!). By this stage we were a little tipsy, gorged on red wine, beer and gin-and-tonics, and so Eileen’s Amazing Inflatable Bed could not fail to impress. It plugged into the wall and when switched on, rapidly inflated itself by the power of electricity. The process was rapid: within three seconds the bed appeared ready to burst, and I grew scared and switched it off.
The following afternoon, Eileen took me on a short walk through Cork. This is the university she used to attend. I can well imagine in the summer, this stretch of lawn being filled with braying students, drinking cider and smoking joints, or whatever it is that students do these days.
Here’s a picture of a Cork street. Before my visit, I knew next to nothing about Cork, and kind of imagined it as a grim coastal hinterland. But it was nothing of the sort, the Cork I arrived to was a charming, pretty and relaxed place, in some ways reminding me of Inverness (not least because of the number of Polish people).
My visit happened to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, a day celebrated around the globe as fake Irish people put on big green hats and deserve a punching. But here were some real live Irish people celebrating their Irishness. In the city centre, a parade was going on; Eileen had expected this to be a muted event and was surprised at the heavy crowds lining the parade route. The atmosphere in town was great, with lots of Polish people dressed in green, and fifteen-year-old working class girls dressed in remarkably little. These girls, in Irish terms, are called “knackers”, which British sensibilities might recognise as chavs, or neds. The amount they didn’t wear was genuinely astonishing, given the cold weather, and what they did wear was invariably tight and pink. You might gather that this is still preying on my mind. But, anyway, the parade. Yeah, the parade was good.
On the way back from the parade, we went by St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. It was quite big. On it is a golden angel, which has had to be firmly fixed to avoid some Irish scallywag stealing it to melt down and sell, as has apparently happened many times in the past. I don’t think I need remind you, dear reader, to always keep a check on your wallet in the presence of an Irish person.
Now we shift forward a day, onto the Sunday. By now, I’ve made a tearful farewell to Eileen, who is due to move to Canada in May to live with her boyfriend Ian, someone I also know from Korea and is notable for being perhaps the only Canadian person I’ve met that hasn’t deserved a culling. So it’s goodbye Eileen, and hello Rebecca, in Dublin. I’d not seen Rebecca for almost two years, but her beauty had remained undimmed. She’s not from Dublin but had agreed to meet me there, for ease of logistics. This photo is taken was taken by her in some park near the city centre, of some tramps disturbing the birdlife.
The weather in Dublin was godawful, with freeing horizontal sleet turning into thunderous hail, and an incessant icy wind that inverted any umbrella. Thus, any walking outside had to be brief. After a meal, then a coffee, then a beer, we found ourselves in a distillery in our next attempt to keep warm. It was the Jamieson’s distillery, and we took a guided tour. This is a picture of some barrels, containing yeast or hops, or whatever the hell they use to make Irish whiskey.
After the tour, we were allowed a complementary drink. I have a slight fear of whisky/whiskey ever since winning a drinking competition with it almost ten years ago, but I actually rather enjoyed this one.
Rebecca enjoyed her whiskey somewhat less, despite this posed smile. She mixed it with ginger beer, and had to gulp it down with a grimace.
This is a photo of a river in Dublin. Is it the Liffey?