August 15, 2001

My absolute favorite time of day – weekday noontime alone in a house full of people.  I seem to have slept off what was getting to me.  I overslept my usual 9AM by two hours – which is very unusual for me.  Last night Rafal appeared at the movie theatre five minutes late.

– Where have you been, late boy?

– It has been crazy day.  I am almost in tears all day.

What appears to have happened is that when Rafal went to school, he just unloaded all his problems onto his friend Salla – the Libyan with whom Kate is planning to stay until she leaves.  He then goes downstairs and Kate appears to check her email and ends up talking to Salla who relays to her all that Rafal told him.  You know, all the stuff they should have been saying to each other the whole time.

Rafal had told Salla that he loved Kate and Kate was surprised and evidently it may have a chance of working out.  Of course, neither of them have said ANY of this to each other – it’s all from Salla’s mouth.  And to be fair, who knows if he’s not telling each side what they want to hear?

So Rafal’s hopes are up, and instead of walking home with me after the movie he went down to Kate’s work to wait for her to get off at ten so that he could walk her home and talk to her.

He did walk her home.  And he did NOT talk to her.  Evidently this was the full extent of the conversation:

– Would you mind if I walked you home?

– No.  I don’t mind.

Then 30 minutes of silence until they got home and she went to bed.  I’m not seeing a whole lot of hope in this one.

Anyway, I got home and there was a bit of a party going on.  Declan and Fiona and her sister Sinead and Sinead’s boyfriend the amusing dirty scam job Rory.  I had something in my head so I ended up writing for a good spell in my room.  I’ve been trying poetry lately, and have fantasies now of going to readings in New York coffee shops.  Be part of a scene.  Though I am intimidated by how good my sister’s poetry is – lightning never strikes twice, after all.

A character in a 50’s movie in the other room just said, “I only make a hundred dollars a week, and you know I can’t live on that.”  Amen, brother, AMEN.

My poetry is horrendously shallow.  It’s either unrequited love shit or depressed suicidal shit.  I don’t feel especially suicidal right now, but as the adage goes – “old adage” would be redundant, wouldn’t it? – “Write what you know.”  It becomes obvious to me that I need to experience a whole lot more until anything I have to say will be of any merit.

When I came up to the living room they were red-eyed through a few joints and strawsipping on a Brazilian concoction knows as a “Caprini” or something like that.  It was some Brazilian sugar cane rum mixed with Demerrara sugar and poured over ice into a glass FULL of hundreds of little segments of lime.  It tasted pretty good, as long as there was enough sugar in the mix.  The nicest part was that all the limes and their juice spilling over the counter to the floor in fragrant water fountains gave the kitchen the nicest, freshest smell.  A wonderful departure from the usual dank mould smell.

Demerrara sugar is wet sand crystals thick and heavy, bits of windshield crass glass brown like molasses.  The rum is in a tall basket woven bottle – Ypioca Ouro.  Aguar dente de Cana – distilled from sugar cane.  39% alcohol.  Productores desde 1846.  Mummified in wicker caning, like the bottom of an old chair.  There’s a picture of an old bearded man in a turtleneck and jacket looming in the room, sipping appreciatively on a tumbler half full.  An interesting advertising idea – their market must be grizzled sailors and those who want to live their lifestyles.

I ended up telling the whole Rafal/Kate story to the assembled masses as Maeve knew there was a fight but wanted to know the details.  She just thinks that Kate is manipulative and is using Rafal for his room.  She was there at the Kitchen Nightclub when she was dancing dirty with other boys.  Everything happens when I’m not around.

Then we watched the second half of the Matrix – which really is AMAZING on a digital screen – and then went to bed.  I went to bed – no one else, of course.  I am the only lame one.  My stomach hurt again, and all I can deduce is that alcohol is now a full-out poison to me.

So here I am – at the end of this notebook with just five shifts until my 3 day break – SEVEN until I am DONE.

So where am I?

Well, my skin blemishes disgust me, I am still lonely, shit job is almost over, our house is BURSTING with people, we have an apartment in New York, mom sent me a bit of money so Europe looks brighter on the horizon, and I’m off to notebook four!

Thank you. –

August 13, 2001

I need to write more often because I’m always playing catch up.  And even though Maeve washed the table in her cleaning spree for Fiona’s arrival, it is still really nasty and I’m still using a magazine as a forearm condom.  Though the magazine, having been on the table, is not all that much better.

Finally yesterday my gallbladder caught up with me and I essentially fasted down the angry little pain in my side.  I had got to the point where I thought that perhaps it was all psychosomatic and had created it all in my fitness/thinness mania.  BUT no.  I have both a fixation on being thin and a painful angry organ.  I went out and bought some fat free pasta sauce – which is actually the best I’ve ever had! – and some crackers so it’s back to bread and pasta!  For a while, at least.

I sat at the table in my most foul of moods – my meek, quiet, soft defeated mood.  I had planned to write all that evening and I wanted to, but I just ate plan pasta and stared at the coverless Economist, flipping pages more than reading and I listened to O Brother Where Art Thou? on repeat for hours.

Maeve and Kevin woke up and were a happy bonding couple over French toast as I flipped and moped.  She is so happy and giving and he just doesn’t seem to be paying attention.  But I’ve seen them hold each other and that’s where it matters.  Opposites attract, I am told.

Tried to call Nick – Katie broke up with him out of the blue and he is destroyed.  “I’m just angry” or something was his email subject.  Sort of a relief – never a huge fan of hers and he needs to break from her in order to live his life as opposed to her life.  I should take that advice myself, but we’re all putzes and always think this is the last chance we’ve got.  I wonder if Chris knows – Josh should be ecstatic but he’s fallen off the email planet – I wonder if he’s still unemployed and miserable in New York, waiting on his leather sofa that’s never gonna come.

Anyway, Nick wasn’t there and I left a message.  Dad wasn’t there.  The other Nick was there but he had to jet – still nice to hear his voice.  Definitely my best college male friend.

Been emailing Michael – as overblown and pretentious in his emails as ever.  I just wish he’d write like a normal person – like he talks – not like a laudanum inspired Gothic romance.  Then again – who am I to cast stones?

Funny how I’ve held onto my high school friends – never really expected that at all.  Josh, Chad, Nick, Chris, and even Michael.  Never really thought that would be the case.  They’re good men.  And all of us are confused.  Michael got into GW Law School – good for him.

Back to staring blankly at the kitchen wall over the heads of the loving couple.  I went to do something in my room for a second and I hear Maeve yelling while Kevin ineffectively attempts to soothe her ragged nerve.  It seems that she accidentally swapped her very expensive jean jacket at the busy club the previous night for a cheap piece of shit that was revealed in the light of day to bear only a tacky and passing resemblance for her own.  She ran down the hall and slammed her door where I heard her cursing the universe.

So I’m still where I was, staring over the heads of loving couples, all empty inside.  But that’s okay – that’s part of this place tearing me down and me building something new and hopefully calmer and more self-assured and worldy in its place.

Then there was a Polish gathering in the sitting room – Oliver and Machek and Kate and Rafal and a swiss roll with “bill” berries and crisps and Zubrovka cut with apple juice.  Zubrovka comes with a long green straw of buffalo grass in the bottle stuck to the side.  With apple juice it tastes just like apple pie.  “If you put [the grass] in your mouth 20, 30 minutes, you are drunk, yes?  Put it in your mouth and suck on it and you are drunk.  No, really.”

Oliver was a tousled bleary eyed slouch who told me it would be a waste of time to visit Poland.  Machek was a jet black slicked ponytail olive gangle folded shut like a fan on the chair curled over Derek’s guitar and he played good blues licks as he barked out in Polish improvised lyrics about Kate that made them all laugh.  I haltingly repeated by tongue-twister and numbers and they all laughed.  “We are not laughing at you, it is just so funny to hear someone who is not from Poland speak Polish language.  Really.”  But that’s nonsense – I know when I’m being laughed at.  And it was fine with me.  I’m sure I was butchering their language.  And hey – if I want to be an actor I have to be comfortable with being the fool.

The Zubrovka was drunk, the Poles smoked Marlboro Lights, and I went with them to the off-license for some Stolichnaya.  My moratorium on drinking was suspended due to my girl troubles.  A worthy and time-honored exception from temperance.  Maeve and I split the bottle of vodka, I think the man at the off-license gave me too much change though I was in a haze and am still not sure, and as Maeve 7-Up’ed hers down I drank it straight hoping to avoid a horrible hangover as I had to open the next day.  I got real tired real quick, the Poles separated themselves down to Rafal’s room, and I went to my room.  My stomach felt awful and distended and I actually thought I would retch.  Hoped I would.  Knelt in front of my sink – my vomiting would be private this time – and spat a few times to try to get thing going.  Nothing came, I pulled off my clothes and fell backwards into bed.

The next morning was the conversation over the table with Kate about being expelled by Rafal.  My bowels were in raging upset all day and my gallbladder throbbed and a £450 take testified that there is no rest for the wicked.

I really didn’t know if I’d see Kate again, and that was an odd feeling.  Do you say “Goodbye” or “Later” or anything like that?  It was weird to leave yesterday morning with her eyes mascara flooded at the kitchen table.

Finally got home and found Rafal.  He seemed very calm and normal, which confused me even more.

– So what’s up?

– Nothing.

– What about Kate?

– Why do you ask?

– Well, she seemed pretty upset this morning.”

– What did she say?

– Well, that the two of you had a fight or something.

As it all reveals itself, Rafal had actually thrown her out of the house for the crime of not loving him.  Not that he would admit that, of course.  The evening after I went to bed proceeded thusly:

Oliver finds Rafal to tell him that Kate and Machek are kissing in the garden.  (Garden?  Broken concrete slug farm I’d call it.)  He goes to confront them, she laughs and goes inside to Rafal’s room.  He follows and the two of them are draped all over each other.  He gets the hint that they want to be alone and watches Pay it Forward with Michelle and Kevin.  He goes to his room afterwards and finds them – Machek and Kate – sleeping next to each other in his bed.  He stomps over to Declan’s bed to sleep, but is angry and goes back to his room and throws Machek out.  Rafal and Kate stay up all night talking and he tells her to leave.

– Don’t you think you’re over-reacting?

– No, but seriously, what am I supposed to do?  I open the door and they are there sleeping together on my bed.  You know, not naked, but next to each other on my bed.  The bed that I pay for.  And I am always sleeping on fucking air mattress and have pain in my back but that’s okay because she is guest.  And she can go out and have a date with whoever she want, but not on my bed.  What am I to do, sleep on fucking air mattress where I can see them together on my bed?  And she says it is my fault.  Why is this?  She says she was drunk and nothing happen but I am supposed to protect her.  She said I disappeared but I was in sitting room the whole time, yes?  She said I disappeared, that it was my fault.  I do not understand.

He recanted his eviction later that evening and told her she could stay until she could get a flight back to Poland because he told her family, he promised her family that he would watch out for her.  He went to work.  I fell asleep on Ulysses.  3 hours later I stumbled out of my room to Declan’s arrival.  Fiona, his long lost girlfriend, was arriving in a few hours from Munich and we went – mostly Maeve, actually – on a cleaning spree.  I had napped in front of the open window and was clamped up in my chest and wasted from the short sleep as I always am.  I stumbled around and pulled on my sweater and watched The Love Bug on Cine Disney and marveled at how stupid the films of my youth were.  I loved Herbie the Bug and even had a little toy car of him.  Matchbox-type.  Silly damn movie and the villain was the guy from Mary Poppins.

Exhausted, I waited for Fiona to come.  She did, I shuffled into the kitchen eventually to say hello, abandoning the stupid British cop show I was using to sustain my consciousness.  Fiona is beautiful, tall and tan and the two of them look very adult and handsome together.  Then I collapsed into bed after my exercises.

3:30 woke me with the loud moans of their reunion, but I managed to be still so exhausted as to fall back to sleep.

And here I am.  Eights shifts to go and tomorrow is my day off.  Maybe I’ll finally get a bank account.  I’ve almost used up this book and this pen.  Both good feelings.

I lifted some Nivea moisturizer from the shop – payment for staying late every time someone is supposed to come and relieve me – and it has pulled the redness out of my fingertips.  My thumbs are still all hangnails,  but they’ve been tamed.  I have to pee and run.  The countdown continues!  Suffer seven hours until I’m OFF!

I had just met a happy American woman who asked me which would be the liberal paper in Ireland.  I explained that it didn’t work that way – you have tabloids and other.  But they all hold the same “news”.  Then she wanted to know how to get to the Abbey.  She had just been up at the Friel family reunion where Brien Friel had been treated “like an angel boy.”

– Do sell stamps?

– Yes.  To where?

– To Germany.  I would like to write a postcard to Germany.

– All right.  That’s 32 pence.  Just one?

– Yes.  I am not such a big writer.

August 12, 2001

– What time did y’all stay up to?

– [sniff]

– Are you all right?

– No.  I am not all right.

– Um, well, what’s up?

– Rafal has just kicked me out of house.

– Oh.  Well, maybe he’s just hung over.

– It is not funny.

– No.

– How much for the bus, 60p?

– Yeah.

– What will I do?  I have no place to go?

– Don’t worry about it.  Wait until this afternoon and see what happens.  Don’t let it upset you.

– Easy to say.

– I know.  Easy to say, not so easy to do.

– 45 minutes until I go to work.

– 5 minutes for me.  I don’t want to walk in the rain.

– Me neither.

Women’s magazines always feature a smiling woman on the cover beside a caption like “The Terror of my Date-Rape Husband.”

You smell of sandalwood warm paper and you press hot gold into my hands.

I am beset by foul smelling alcoholic farting British men!  Their stink is so palpable they leave it behind them like fingerprints on a mirror.  A smudge of stink.

 

August 6, 2001

Well, I’ve been fighting it as well as I could.  To no avail.  Sitting around in just a t-shirt all morning – nevermind the fact that ALL my clothes are outside on the clothesline in the rain.  Fucking barbaric island.  It just seems rather ridiculous to go through the bother of actually CLEANING your clothes, only to throw them on a rope outside where the birds can crap on them, insects can fuck and lay broods of eggs, and rain can leave water marks.  Why wash at all?

But anyway – I can’t fight it.  I’m back in the kitchen with my sweater on wrapped around a mug of tea with my hands getting stiff again.  Yes.  It’s cold.  I must assume that the last two weeks – weeks in which NOT ONCE did I wear a sweater.  Weeks in which I EVEN ventured outside the house on TWO SEPARATE occasions without a jacket.  Weeks in which I ACTUALLY took my shirt OFF in Phoenix Park to take advantage of what I recall to be the SUN.

No.  Those days are over.  Summer has hiccupped and back we are to where we started.

It’s raining right now as we speak.  Cold.  Gray.  It makes me feel cold just to have the gray light hit me through the crusty windows.  It makes me feel cold just to hear the dagger drops of rain on the corrugated iron roof of the other bathroom.

Well, there it was!  Summer come and gone.  In TWO WEEKS.  The SAME TWO WEEKS I worked extra days and had my hours fucked with.  The SAME TWO WEEKS that left the two or three solitary rainy days to the two or three solitary days off I had.  But, on my frequent boredom trips to tidy the 40p postcards I saw the sun out the window and though I never FELT it per se, as it would cloud over the moment that I stepped outside as if the sun was taking a shower and drew a towel around herself out of embarrassment when she saw me – still I sold enough bottles of not cold enough still mineral water to fat old sweating tourists to convince me that there was SOME pleasant weather out there.  Though I suppose it is all technically hearsay.

I never got to explain Eva.  I always do that – get lost in the details and forget to mention the big picture.  The reason I started writing in the first place.

So Eva finished her set – her music metallic and elegant, with notes picked out as opposed to the strumming musical masturbation of the 20-something Jack Kerouac wannabes. It sounded almost Indian, her music did, but rippling like a current propelling her words.  She sat next to me.  What’s the point?  I thought – but I had to tell her how much I enjoyed her music.  I told her Kevin was looking to record people.  I told her I wanted to hear her play again.  Did she have a recording?  Anything?

We talked between maudlin 3 song sets of young adult angst delivered in eyes-closed solemnity.  I raved about her music.  She was coolly appreciative in her Swedish accent.  The bands played on, but I just waited for the breaks to whisper in her ear.  Kevin got up to leave.  I asked her to come along.  And she did.

Off to Zanzibar – architecturally a VERY exciting space for me with its Casablanca-like interior of pierced lanterns and rows of cushions by palms and tiled floors.  I almost expected a bowl of dates on the table.  I hadn’t expected to go for but a pint, and the two £5 notes stuffed in my breast pocket as we left had been reduced to an unimpressive jingle of coins in my pocket from Molloy’s and the open-mic entrance fee.

She sat down at the table – ma’am, you can check your guitar at the coat check – she said thank you with you intention ever of doing so.  She winced at the club music and the gyrating youth.  I ran to O’Connel St. for an ATM.  An ENVELOPE full of money at home and I ran to the ATM.  I need to be better prepared.  I essentially ran there and back, terrified that she would leave.  But why?

I couldn’t get enough of her.  She was a thinker – someone who wanted to talk about life and ideas and who had a poet’s mouth that couldn’t hold in her pain.

I came back and she was still there, talking to Kevin.  Declan and Paddy, who we’d gone there to meet, were not even on my agenda.  Just Eva.  She was in her 40’s, divorced, separated from her last partner.  Always “partner” – never “boyfriend” or, for that matter, “girlfriend.”  “Partner” always.  She had two children.  She’s sang for five years.  Her children were in Cork for the weekend with their father.  She came from a long line of actors and we both agreed on Bergman’s Fanny + Alexander.  Her father had been in a Bergman film.  She ran away at 16 to Morocco – well, she ran away twice.  First she and her friends were caught in Gothenburg as they were mistaken for a gang of wanted youths.  After two days in a holding cell she was sent back to Stockholm.

The next time was to Paris for a while and then Morocco to her boyfriend’s home.  She lived in a traditional Moroccan home and so was bound by Moroccan expectations.  She could not leave the house and the only song she ever heard was Hotel California.  She escaped to the Swedish embassy and the only thing she took with her on the plan was an abject hatred for all things Moroccan.  The food, the music, the Eagles.  The family could never understand why – why should she not want to marry their son?  He was a good catch.  What more could she want?

Why, I do not know.  But it was Cork and there were hippies there and she started to play.  It all gets much less specific.

She’s been emotionally, sexually and physically abused.  Love makes you arrogant.  She was so happy with her partner she was so arrogant in her happiness.

She has a family history of suicide.  She’s easily addicted and had far too much alcohol.

They shepherd us all out like sheep, waving their arms and prodding the herd.  Perhaps I’ve missed the last bus to Dun Loaghaire.  You can come crash on our couch – people always do.  How far is it?  A bit of a walk.

Kevin stumbles out of Super Macs with a face like he’s jus stuffed the last of ninety fries into his mouth with a drunken stagger to complement I ate way too much ketchup he burps.

Some tall skinny has stolen a pack of Times Saturday magazines – a sight that reminds me unpleasantly of the newspaper stuffing weekend ahead.  In a broken, open-eyed Chinese caricature he offers to sell us the magazines, pausing every five minutes to bow under the weight of the stack and complain about how heavy they were like clockwork.  We will not buy them.  He gives us all one oh they’re heavy and we walk off.  Kevin rolls his and puts it on a window ledge of the Bank of Ireland.  Eva asks what his problem is.  Kevin is far too ketchup poisoned to notice.

Back home sitting room talk and Kevin quickly goes to bed.  She plows into her Marlboro Lights and I doze in the chair.  She has a silver bracelet on the ankle of her boot and her naked feet are stretched out on the couch.  You’re welcome to sleep on the couch, but just keep in mind that my roommates go to work at eight.  Well, it’s 4:00 now, so I either get woken up in four hours or sleep in your room.  Hey, it’s your call.  People sleep here all the time that I don’t know.  It’s no problem.  Well, I’d rather sleep in your room – with respect.

I gather the pink sleeping bag from under the phone.  She strips off her black jeans but leaves on her ¾ sleeve brown shirt and slides into my bed.  I kick off my shoes and lay on the floor.  She drops the grey pillows down to me.  We talk and I hear Kevin grunt into Maeve as I drift off in the cold.  I forgot to close my window.

The most awkward part of the morning is that I like to be alone in the morning and there she was.  Still asleep.  I wanted to write about it all, shower, prepare for work.  She was asleep.  I tried unobtrusively to make as much natural noise as possible.  What do you do the morning after?  Open drawers, arrange loose change on the dresser, sit and breathe loudly.  Maybe she thinks I’m asleep and doesn’t want to disturb me?  Make deep, awake sighs and quick awake breaths.  Stretch and groan.  Knock up against dresser.

Here she rolls over.  Runs to bathroom without pants.  I prepare to shower as she slips back under the duvet.

Would you like some tea?  Soup bowl or cup?  The sink is full of thick black water and it scares me.  Milk?

She laughs at my skim milk and doesn’t trust the health craze.  She eats butter.  Americans, no offense, are obsessed with weight and being beautiful.  Yes, we are.  So am I.  She likes Irish girls because they walk around with bellies hanging out of crop tops spilling over straining jean bands and say fuck you, I’m beautiful.

Rafal comes up and clears the sink and wonders who she is.  She leaves along with her number on my wishful thinking list.  I gave this to your friend but maybe you would be more apt to use it.

She’s playing at the International Bar on Sunday.  Around 6.  I tell her I’ll try to go and wave her off down the street to the bus stop with a sincere thank you – I had a great time last night.  She smiles and is off around the corner.

I close the door and greedily get back to my routine.  Not too far disrupted as I woke up early with foreign breath in my room.  I’m back on schedule.

I did not go to see her yesterday.  I regret it.  I’d like to call her.  I’d like to have a friend.  That TALKS about IDEAS.

And nothing happened between us, snickering Maeve.  I did not try, nor did she.  Did she maybe want to?  I was attracted to her, but I didn’t want to lose the word-exchanging time.  I needed someone to think with, not swap fluids with.  I need her mouth to make words, not orgasms.

Part of me doesn’t know whether to try to see her again.  I don’t want to spoil my memory.  She is the first person I’ve ever MET in a bar.  Complete stranger.  Right into my bed.  I can’t be too repellant or uninteresting.  It’s very odd to wake up, though, to what really is still a stranger in your bed – no matter how well you may have clicked the night before.  I don’t think I’d like to fuck someone in that situation.  I felt weird enough in a guiltless free chaste morning.  And you never know what people may be carrying.  Very scary.

I wrote everyone about my assault, much to Aoife’s chagrin, so I’m interested to see what people say.

Today is the bank holiday, so supposedly we are to get paid DOUBLE wages for working today.  Everyone else is, of course.  However, I’m not holding my breath.  There’s probably an exception for all foreigners in wholly unskilled and boring-ass jobs.  I was about to write “profession” but calling the newsagents a “profession” is like clipping off your toe just to pare down your nails.  A bit of an overkill.  Not a great analogy, but I wanted to avoid “dressing up a pig.”  Oh, well.  I failed.  Again.

I have to admit I’m proud that I’ve stuck to this job and didn’t just buckle like I wanted/want to do.  All the time.  Not proud of the job, but proud that I can eat crow and do anything, even work a shit dehumanizing job, just by putting my mind to it.  Or out of it.  Perhaps I should write “through sheer perseverance.”

There’s meeting Eva.  There making my rent entirely through my money from the job for this month.  There’s working almost every day and never calling in sick – as sick and bored as I am.  Out of my skull.  There’s my friendship with Maeve and Rafal.  Good times and shitty times.  My assault.  My fruitless aggravating mouth of work hunting.  Being lonely.  BUT I’M STILL HERE.  I am winning and ticking off the shifts on my wall and writing and STILL IN ONE PIECE.  I am winning, and will continue to win.  Life is, in the words of Queen, “a challenge before the whole human race, and I never lose.”  And we need to go on and on and on and ON!  Ha ha ha!  Sometimes I make myself smile.  Someone has to, I suppose.

I got Michael’s cell-phone number last night and tried to call him.  Left a big message.  Being here has taught me that I miss him and my father terribly.  I would love to talk to him and I can’t wait to see Dad and give him whiskey and “20 Majors” please – just like the black-fingered cab drivers with their golden badges and spilling bellies.

I have to pee now before work.  I don’t want to leave this book – it’s the only place I feel I belong.

We go through Kit Kats like they were the cure for cancer.

Trumpet Concerto in E flat major – Haydn.  That peppy “hooked on classics” sound.  Great!

Steve Foster – Hard Times Come Again No More.

August 4, 2001

“We all have an affinity, yes?  I think, maybe, that I have an affinity for being nobody.” – Rafal.

An affinity for mediocrity.

Looking up at that hole in the ceiling is like peering into the spine of my room.

I told Aoife about my assault yesterday.  She gasped and implored me not to hold it against Ireland.  She offered to pay me not to tell my friends at home, or at least put a disclaimer on the end of the email that said, “But I love Ireland.”

Sorry, Aoife, no such luck.

More later.  Tired and must open at too damn early tomorrow.  At least I can still say “tomorrow” instead of the daunting “in a few hours.”

20 days from now – I will be DONE with this hated job!  15 shifts to go!  Goodnight.

July 30, 2001

Haven’t written for a long while, and quite a lot of nothing has gone on since last.

Saturday afternoon I was WRECKED and all I wanted to do was go to sleep so that I could be beautiful for opening the next morning, but I wanted to greet Kevin when he arrived.  I was alone in the house so it was the perfect opportunity to curl up with Ulysses and hammer out a good hundred pages or so.  So I went into the living room, lugging its encyclopedic bulk behind me, and sat down in my favorite chair by the window to read.

Ten pages in I was deep in nap-land for a good two hours.  I really needed it and so starved was I for rest that I awoke feeling exactly the same, with only the shifted hands of my watch for proof, or even a hint, that I had been asleep at all.  It’s like the hangover thirst that is not in the least diminished by downing a gallon of water.

Maeve wanted to pick him up at 5:30, and it was now 7:30.  I figured they must have gone for dinner or to a hotel to reaffirm their relationship immediately, so filled with the omnipresent spirit of homesickness I started the rounds of calling.  Gregg wasn’t there.  Natalie was!

I could tell that Natalie had no idea to whom she was talking, and as she kept her phrases bland and noncommittal – “Hi, how are YOU?  So.  What’s up with… you?” I kept my responses just as generic.  “I’m fine.  How are YOU?”  You imagine that someone who’s called your cell phone must know who you are so you sort of dance around until they make that fatal mistake that blows their cover.  It made me laugh – she had no idea who was on the phone!  Then she realized and we got down to good, old-fashioned chatting.  She quit her job at the English camp one week early because she’s been cast in a 7 week tour of Chicago!  As the big momma character, whatever her name is.  It came sort of out of the blue and today she should be in fabulous LAS VEGAS rehearsing!  How cool is that?!  I am so proud and envious of her.  She has established a hard reputation to follow – I feel pedestrian next to her.  She is really so gifted and amazing that the world is HERS if she wants it.  She sets a high example and I don’t feel like I’ll do as well and just be old forgettable Paul next to her glorious star-power NATALIE!  Oh, well.  I love her anyway.  No matter how jealous I may be.  But it really is a happy jealousy as I do hope she makes it.  If anyone that I know can, it would be she.

So she’ll only get off tour right when I get back to the states, so we may move up to New York together!  Though hopefully I can get her to road trip with me to Vegas like we always said we would – now she’ll know all the cool places to go!

It was nice to talk to her but she had to go up to New York to clear her stuff out of Tiffany’s place before she went off on tour.  I don’t know when our lease starts, but it looks like it will just be Lisbeth breaking in the place for us.  I wonder if Richie is going to sublet my place?

Then I called Dad and we had our generally empty but fond chit chat that we share.  Dog was sick, now is recovered and shitting all over the carpet.  Tony is not yet divorced or annulled or whatever and evidently they are still living together.  I asked what sort of gifts I should get for his brood – as I have begun my great list which will require an extra suitcase on my return – and he promised to send me a list.  Hasn’t emailed for two or three weeks as his computer was dead.  Again.  This time it was the power supply.  For a house with a computer engineer in residence – purported computer engineer – they do certainly have more problems than anyone I’ve ever heard of.

I miss Dad a lot and can’t wait to see him.  Reminds me that all the extra stuff doesn’t really matter because he’s my father and I love him and I miss him.  However, this revelation has been brought home due to the fact that I am so lonely and have lots of time to think about people who are gone.  That he can miss me as much as he says in a house crammed full of animals and humans and the links in between that he purports to love so wholly and completely makes me wonder how happy he really is.  But I’ll always wonder that.

I also miss Michael Patrick and I drudged up his number from the archives in the hopes that he might be there or that I could get the number from his parents.  I had tried to call what I remembered to be his pager, but nothing was there.  He must have surpassed his technology yet again.  No one answered, so I left a message saying I was trying to get in touch with him.  He doesn’t even know that I’m in Ireland, unless he’s called home – though I doubt he has.  I just want to hear his voice and though our friendship has definitely changed I would like to know how he is and see what he’s doing.  Friends are so rare that they’re worth working for.  I hope that he feels that way.  I hope that he feels something.  I hope that he is happy.  I hope he’s doing theatre.

Kevin finally arrived as I sat talking to Rafal in the kitchen.  It was nice to get a chance to talk to him as he has relatively disappeared since the arrival of Kate.  I like Kate, but you can’t help feeling, and perhaps this is entirely due to Maeve’s influence, that there’s something up her sleeve.  That she’s using Rafal just to stay here for free.  If so that is a sad case because you can tell he really likes her and was hoping that her visit would be the first great happy memory of their lifelong romance.  But he is 25 and she is 18 and when you look at it that way it seems far from probable.

Time to go to work.  I’ll put this on hold and probably pick up tomorrow morning.  My favorite time in the whole day is morning kitchen table writing time.  This is absolutely my favorite and most unburdened time, watching ink curl words onto the paper, eating through this little notebook with pages of nothing that, as I have been proven, would be devastated to ever lose.

Later –

July 25, 2001

I haven’t REALLY written for a while and it’s making me a bit antsy.  I regard that as a rather good sign.

I’ve been having these vivid dreams that I probably should write down because they are really quite fully-developed stories.  I keep getting these strange déjà vu moments when I wake up that the dreams were all novels I will write, or they are gifts of books from my mind that all I need do is transcribe them – it’s only through my own laziness that I’m not published.  The dreams are funny quilts of easily identifiable elements – last night I worked in a store behind a counter but I didn’t really want to be there and there was a girl who worked there who looked like Sheila the one nice hotel person and I walked to France – to Lourdes, actually – but there was nothing there but books which were all ones I read about in the Times this past Sunday.

{I ate toast with a million boots marching in the empty ivory hall of my head.}

What’s odd is that rarely, if EVER, do I remember my dreams.  And not only do I remember these, I seem to be half-aware of the state I’m in while asleep, and I can even wake up enough to go to the bathroom and still fall back into the same dream.  I think it must be caused by the same urge that compels me to write – there is so much inside of me but no one with which to share it.  So I share it with myself.  I also wish that I did more creative writing, but I’m so far behind on recording what has actually happened that I don’t really get the chance.  Except in that sheaf of papers on my dresser.  I still feel like I’d like to write plays, plays with great monologues, but I’m still in need of great work in recording how people talk.  We THINK that we listen but really we just filter in the words and translate what’s said into our own speech patterns.  Like the way that Holly would always convey to me things Rosemary said – I got to the point when I thought Rosemary talked like Holly.  It’s the United Nations and we’re all listening to the simultaneous translations through our headphones that conveniently but everything into our own language, but we’re never ACTUALLY listening to who’s talking and the precise words they’re using.  And look at how effective the members of the UN are at communicating with each other, much less reaching a common ground.

{I don’t like the taste of whole milk.  It is thick and heavy.  Like sand.}

I’ve definitely noticed this about myself.  I’ll listen very closely to someone speak, like Angela or Aiofe or Declan, but when I try to reproduce it in writing or tone I am left high and dry.  They use words that I don’t use so they don’t penetrate my brain.  Their pronunciation is different but it all gets cleaned up by my – for ONCE – too efficient brain.  So TRULY listening, like auditioning, is an art and I need to practice.

{Aren’t words wonderful?!  I am both catholic and discriminating in my tastes, but neither Catholic nor discriminating.}

And I guess that’s a bit of a warning about all of my transcribed conversations.  They fall terribly short.

I need to catch up on a few things, especially Mister USP – the man who made my first solo day at work so unpleasant.

So it was that first Saturday and everything had been going just fine, aside from being terribly bored.  But I had managed to suffer through and had just got to the point where I thought, “Well, maybe this job isn’t so bad after all.”  Then, of course, the rug was pulled out from under me.

At 1:30 – a mere half hour before I can count my first day a success, after making it for 5 ½ lonely hours and getting up at 6:00AM – Dublin does it to me again.  Into the shoebox runs a wildeyed, shaved, white water-rat, pink eyes and all, and when I asked the scrawny young track-suit wearing man if there was anything I could do for him, his reply was:

– I was wondering if you could save my life.

Those are the kind of words that make your heart just sink.  It wouldn’t be anything simple like, “Do you have cough sweets?” or “Can I have change for the telephone?”  No, those were the words with which Dublin would bend me over the teacher’s desk and introduce me to the splintered broomstick.

So Ritchie spins this incredibly complex yarn that I can’t even begin to dissect.  It was all shot out of his mouh in a smooth con-artist wave, never leaving you a second to catch your breath, just sweeping you along for the ride.

He used to work there, he just got his last paycheck the day before, he’d been to every bank, pub, cash-a-check, rich socialite, illegal hoarder of pirate’s gold in all of Dublin in an attempt to cash his check and no one would do it.  Even the bank off of which the check was written wouldn’t cash it.  His credit union said it would take 7 days to clear.  So did the cash-a-check place.  Sound fishy yet?

And it wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it wasn’t the timing, you see.  It was his girlfriend’s birthday the next day and he had to give her a present.

Why such urgency?

Well, you’ve heard of post-natal depression, right?  Well, his girlfriend’s got SERIOUS post-natal depression.  Oh, yes.  An unexpected pregnancy, but now they’re engaged, still each living at home, she’s five months along and he doesn’t have a job.  So she gets really depressed.  Fits of lunacy!  She’ll be all fine one minute and then she’ll start yellin’ and screamin’ at him for no reason.  I wonder if him having no money and no job might contribute to that.

And as it’s her birthday tomorrow if he doesn’t get her something really nice then Lord only knows what she’ll do!

So where do I come in?

He wants me to cash his check out of the daily take.  That’s why he came right at the end of my shift.  Sounds seriously suspect and a little too dramatic to be real.  I tell him I shouldn’t and Angela told me not to cash checks for people that said they worked there – EERIE FORESHADOWING!

He pleads with me – please!  The girlfriend!  The depression!  Birthday gift!  C’mon!  Help a brother out!

I tell him to wait until Angela comes in – she’s supposed to come oversee the transition from myself to Aoife and help us close out our shifts.  I keep telling him to wait.

Aoife comes and Angela still hasn’t shown, nor will she.  Ritchie was right about that.

So what does he want to do with his life, as working in the newsagent’s is not part of the plan?

– I want to be a rapper.  I’ve got a tape and all.  I’ve got about four songs, and that’s not bad for, umm, you know five months of writin’.  Yeah, they’re not great quality studio tapes though.  I talk bits of songs and put them together on a tape, then I put two tape recorders up next to each other and I rap while the one plays and so they both go onto the other tape.  The thing is that everybody needs to have their own USP.  UNIQUE SELLING POINT.  Yeah, Eminem – he’s my hero.  He’s got 2 USP’s.  First, he’s white.  “What is that?  A white rapper?  Who ever heard of a white rapper?!”  Second, his second USP is that he goes around slaggin’ everybody.  “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.”  My USP?  You know everybody sings and raps in an American accent.  Why?  So I’m straight out of Dublin, you know, so I’m not gonna hide my accent.  I’m going to be the first Irish rapper.  The first Irish rapper.  My USP is going to be my accent.  The first Irish rapper.

Angela never shows.  It’s a quarter past, he’s pleading with his hands together and his eyes wide open.  He helps us close, as we are quite confused and really could have benefitted from having Angela there, but I certainly watched his quick agile fingers whenever they went near the cash drawer.  He was never gonna leave.  Angela was never gonna show.  I caved.  I cashed the fucking check.  I hated myself for doing it because I could just feel myself getting conned.  I could smell the shit as he spread it over my body.  And I knew I’d get yelled at and probably fired and I didn’t need this and why did I even try to get a job and why am I here when I could be home and why does life SUCK?!  Why am I weak?  Why didn’t I just say, “Sorry, I feel bad for you but I was told not to and I won’t.”  AND ON MY FIRST DAY, NO LESS!

However, things are never as bad as they seem, and no one ever said anything about it to me, even though Aoife kindly told me she’d back me up to Angela that he would not have left otherwise.  She’s pretty cool.

In fact, when I got my first £18.80 paycheck Angela told me to do just what I had done for Ritchie.  So I guess it was all right after all.

So what did I learn?

1) USP – Unique Selling Point
2) It’s never as bad as it seems.
3) Be strong.
4) If you can’t be strong, then don’t sweat it.
5) If I make a mistake, it’s all right.
6) If it’s not all right and I get fired – THEN WHO CARES?!

Off to work –

When you buy two souvenir shirts you’re supposed to get a free cheesy Ireland cap and we’ve run out.

“What do I do if someone asks for a hat?  We’re out.  Are there any more upstairs?”

“No, there’s not.  He hasn’t paid they bill, y’see.  He’ll do that.  He’ll pay them then just stop paying then start up again and do a few more and then stop.”

“So what do I do?”

“Well, a man came in today and bought two shirts and he didn’t ask for them.  So I kept me mouth shut.”

“Well, that’s true.  People usually don’t notice and I remind them that they get them free.  So I just won’t mention it.”

“Yes, that’s what y’do.”

“But if they do ask?”

“Just say, ‘I dunno.’  That’s what we do in Ireland.  ‘Oh, gee.  I dunno.’  You’ll hear that a lot in Ireland.”

Had a great night out at the pub last night – I decided to go out as I will not be reduced to a dehumanizing work/sleep/work schedule.  It was Declan and Maeve and I and we even got Rafal and Kate out with us for Kate’s first Guinness.  We went across the road to McGrath’s.  It was odd as we were in the lounge which was very large and open with sofas and table lamps and televisions on the white walls.  It was like being in someone’s sitting room.  But we had a couple of pints and a really good chat and for the first time I didn’t feel totally third wheel but part of the group with something to say.  Rafal was slow going through his cider – still on his first as we were half through our second – and we wondered where this famous “vodka head” is that he talks about.  “Polish head” – excuse me.

Last call had come and gone, signaled by a very long and severe couple of descents into darkness, not so much a flipping of the lightswitch but a leisurely examination of the difference between lights on and lights off.  I thought it was a blackout!

Two pints in me, I bemoaned the passing of last call and said that I could do with more alcohol.  Just then Rafal spilled his last half a glass all over himself and me.

“When I said I wanted more alcohol, I didn’t mean on my pants!”

The Cigarettes Cheatsheet:

Silk Cut:
Purple = King Size
Blue = Extra Mild
White = Ultra (no one says “White”)

Superkings:
Blue = Lights
Black = Regular

Lambert & Butler
Gold = Lights
Silver = King Size

Back to the significance of color!  Apart from the GAA there’s the differentiation of cigarettes by color, not quality.  Silk Cut Blue, Purple, Superkings Blue and Black.  Gauloises Red and Bleu.  Even Rizla cigarette papers are green or red.

“Do you have the green Pringles?”

The Orangemen.

Color is everywhere and ever important.

Marlboro Reds!

She just pushed forward her hand, heavy with useless silver, and shook her head saying, “Could you, please?”

I wonder if people ever think I’m ripping them off when I pull change from their hands.  I never will, as I have much more respect and patience for them than the ones who pick in their hands for ten minutes, intently clucking their tongues complaining about the “funny money” only to end up handing over a mix of foreign currencies which I haven’t the strength or desire to sort out.

I love it when people with two or three young children ask for condoms.  I want to say, “It’s a bit late for that now, don’t you think?”  They don’t work retroactively.  Too little, too late.

It’s the last fifteen minutes here that kills me, especially when someone is hanging around the postcards.  Shouldn’t you be at a pub?  Or in bed?

And by “last fifteen minutes” I mean the fifteen minutes before the ten minutes I take for closing.  When I say that I work until 9 that means it’s LOCKED at nine!

July 16, 2001

I would be writing outside, perhaps in the relative tranquility of the Garden of Remembrance which I only ever see anymore in the rush to get home.  However, it is raining.  Of course.  It has been sunny and bright all morning and right as I am about to go out to collect my laundry off the line it begins to rain.  Frankly I consider the lack of dryers to be the ultimate sign of the barbarity of this cursed rock.  It’s not like this is the Sahara where a dryer would be a useless extravagance.  I think history has shown that it will rain every twelve seconds here, if not more frequently.  And alas, it takes more than 12 seconds in absence of precipitation for clothes to dry.  It’s a Russian Roulette waiting for your clothes to dry, knowing that there is probably a rain drop in the next chamber but pulling the trigger anyway.  I swear my clothes spend more time outside OFF my body than they do ON my body.  I’m going to go outside this evening after work and find they have created some sort of Lord of the Flies scenario and I will be fighting a tribal war with Declan’s clothes which have been outside for a week.

The beautiful Irish women are ravens – harsh faces with black marble eyes, their hair like feathers down their neck, their heads proud and their movements quickly flicked out from their fit bodies.

But the men are hideous.  Like the fucking prick hotel employee who haunts me like the murder of an Asian prostitute.  He shows up several times a day to support his gangly grotesque body with Lucozade.  His head is like a giant jack o’ lantern that has been bleached and has been sitting out in the sun for a couple of months.  It is round and misshapen, entirely too large for his bony body, with his eyebrows collapsing over his eyes and his mouth nothing more than a mushy slit that makes it even more impossible to understand his deep indecipherable Dublin growling.  He is perhaps the most disheveled bastard I have yet to meet, and his grimy mangled collar is always unbuttoned behind his skewered bowtie which at one time must have been black but which has now been rendered gray by lack of washing and total disgust for his owner.  He perpetually squints through the day in that affected “I am very tired and perpetually overworked” fashion, which only serves to piss me off even more.  He never fails to deliver a disparaging comment about the ease of my job and always remembers to call me a “lazy bastard.”

Yesterday was my most pleasant exchange with him, my little ray of sunshine.

– So what the fuck are you supposed to be then?
– The fuck Paul.
– What, did your parents name you that?  The moment you came out they said, “The Fuck?!”
– No.  MY parents were married for several years before they had me.
– Well, you know what they say – first child is always a mistake.  Thank God I was the second.
– Uh huh.

Then Igor tuned in to the classical music coming from the radio.

– What the fuck are you listening to?
– Classical music.

Then Igor mustered all of the sarcasm and mock horror he held in that grotesque little frame of his and demanded:

– Why?
– Because I like it.  It’s complex.  There’s a reason it’s been around so long.
– Have you ever heard of clubs?

At this point several very good retorts presented themselves.  Unfortunately they were all revealed through the magic of the afterthought.

– Clubs suck.

At which point Igor turned and left in disgust.

I really think he’s trying to be funny and employ that sacred and lauded Irish wit which rides exclusively on the back of sarcasm.  He probably tries very hard to be so brash and rude, finding it very clever and ultimately a sign of how cool he is.  Being as hideous as he is he must feel pressure – terrible pressure – to do something – anything – to ameliorate his shitty lot.  Maybe he can just move to a blind leper colony and finally have the courage to be himself.  However, though I see how hard he is trying to be this monster he has become, and though I do feel a bit of pity for him, it still craps up my day in true Dublin fashion.  I think I’ll just be rude to him from now on and hide all the red Lucozade.  What can he do – get me fired?  And do I care?  He’s just one of those jack-offs from high school who throw in the first punch so that they can laugh at everyone else before everyone else laughs at them.

I think I’m getting depressed again.  Not “bummed out” but depressed.  I haven’t been reading and I haven’t written much.  Just stared at the TV or the wall.  Haven’t bought an Evening Herald in a week.  Less desire to do any of the happy things I do for myself.  I remember what Mrs. Gifford in AP English said about the great geniuses being manic depressive.  That explained why they were essentially life long alcoholics who would periodically churn out a masterpiece in a few days unbroken by sleep and then descend again into their bottles.  Mania fueled the muse.

Maybe if I can keep writing I can escape the depression swing.  Force myself to stay up enough so that the rest has no choice but to pull itself back to the top.  Everyone falls from the trapeze at some point, and that’s why there is a net.  Depression doesn’t necessarily mean melancholia.  I still see beautiful fun things in my life – like seeing the prime minister Bertie Ahern outside across from Fagan’s yesterday – but there is less motivation.  Less desire.  No need to pick up the pen, just a blank stare at the wall.  Thoughts in my head fly buzz the bulb but no tap turn to let them out.  No desire.  I need to keep desire and keep writing and lusting and walking and calling and doing.  I need to keep moving or the cement will harden round my feet and then they can safely dump me in the water.  But at that point I won’t care and my only sound will be a long last resigned sigh that only ends to take the water into my lungs.

And I am NOT going out like that.

Time to go to work!  Let’s see how I hold up.  Only 8 WEEKS.  Remember that.  It’ll be easy.  Most everyone does this all their LIVES.  Angela’s done it at this store alone for 5 years, before that 22 years in a restaurant.  I can make 8 weeks.

“How long have you been open?” asks the German in his spotless dark blue jeans belted over a well-pressed white checked shirt.  A very intentional and tidy casualness, studied almost, down to the well-polished boat shoes of well-polished leather.

“12 days I’ve been here.  How do I know where I’ve been?  I’m 72 years old.  I hardly remember 12 hours ago, much less 12 days.  I got on the plane in Huston at 8 in the morning then had to fly – fly to Newark New Jersey so I didn’t get here until 8 in the morning the next day.  And then they said they didn’t have a room for us.  And all the seats were taken because Robbie was here.  Robbie Williams.  I hate Robbie.  And the bartender didn’t even know how to make lemonade because we none of us drink.  And NO ONE is watching the bags!  Except me, of course, because no one else is.  So our bags are just sitting there in the lobby.  Then at 2 they open up the luggage room down the hall and put our bags in.  Finally we get our rooms and they say they’ll bring the luggage right up.  45 MINUTES LATER [as she narrows her eyes] I call down and say WHERE IS MY LUGGAGE?  And poor little Mary Robinson from the desk over there, she brings the bags up by herself, poor thing.  Now is that any way to treat a person?  I get off the plane at 9 in the morning and not get any help until 6 in the evening?  I’m going to write a letter.  But the guide, John Hood, he made up for it.  All the men on the bus.  I need protection, you see.  I have to fight the men off, you know?”

Michael’s brother came around for the rent.

Rafal: “Some guy came and took money.  I don’t know if we can trust him.”
Me: “We’ll find out soon enough.”

July 12, 2001

I got up at 8:30, thinking it might take an hour to get here.  And also, frankly, I never underestimate my power and ability to get lost.  It took only 30 minutes, though admittedly I was walking purposefully and a bit cavalierly through traffic.  It’s a quarter till 10 now – the moment of truth approaches.  In my mad dash to get out of the house by 9 this morning I forgot to get my passport and PPS #.  No time now to go back and get them.  I should never put ANYTHING off.  I should have done it last night while I was thinking about it.  It’s not as if I was too busy – I took the time to write myself a not for heaven’s sake.  Besides, I was just waiting up for Rafal and Kate (the Pole) to arrive.  She is tall, thin as a rail, encased in denim, almost as if she’d been shrink-wrapped in sturdy blue cotton.  She has the straightest long blond hair I have ever seen.  It must have an incredibly high atomic weight to just hang there like that as if anvils were tied to each strand.  I don’t think she understands English very well, but she has a remarkably clean, confident, comprehensible accent.  QUITE in contrast to Raphael’s stuttering, babbling, tripped up accented English.

Water laughs louder in the sun, as the playful rays shimmer and tickle the silky surface.

I have the job!  Today I trained with Angela for two hours until the new weekend girl Aoife came in to be trained at noon.

Got into a bit of a panic – I was, of course, there a full half hour early due to my use of Gardiner St instead of my usual O’Connel St. route.  Then I sat by the old holding pen of the docks – a clean square of a stone enclosure holding dark still water.  The stone was, of course, gray.  Weathered and gray.  Then, at five to 10 I got up and decided to walk around the pool and over to arrive neatly a few minutes early.  Besides, I didn’t want to be milling around the lobby if she wasn’t in yet, worrying the staff and prompting an unfortunate confrontation.  I do, after all, have the look of a foreigner about me so I must be suspect.  I started circumnavigating the pool, then my watch told me my underestimation of its size would lead me to be quite tardy if I continued on my course.  Instead I bore right to walk behind the building and around – I do so hate to retrace my steps.  It makes me look either lost or like I’m stalking, neither impressions I’m keen to foster.  I walk behind the massive long brick hall of the old dockhouse storehouse and am confronted by an entirely new building!  Unfazed I walk past it to see a gate.  PANIC!  I did not get here 30 MINUTES EARLY only to be caught late by a gate!  There was a walkway beside it though, and there I was behind Jury’s Custom House Inn.  I was about to nip around to the front door when – WHAM!  There was another gate!  Quite locked without another little route beside it!  And there was no outlet on the left-hand side of the building.  Panic!  I would be late and show I had no sense of responsibility before I’d even started and I’d show up, huffing and puffing with a torn set of trousers after getting caught on the gate as I clamored over it and she cluck her tongue and say, “No.  I just DON’T think this will work out.”  In true Irish fashion there would be no “sorry” or “I understand – we all make mistakes.”  No.  There would be no empathy.  No sympathy.  Just a blank stare waiting for me to remove myself from the premises.  And I would most probably break down weeping.  And I can’t buy a gun in this country so I’d end up on a church tower assassinating innocent passers-by with black puddings.

But, behind the tourbus, there was hidden the back entrance!  My salvation, as usual, comes from behind!