It was awhile ago...
it started with rattling paper cups and the droppings of coins and ended pretty much the same, but with a fierce withholding of coins.
I only spent one night in Dublin; it was a thursday but the way the city behaved you wouldnt have known it. Images in my head before I stepped off the bus ranged from scabby moss covered brick walls and thick smog to ponderings of neon signage and strip clubs. I'd never really explored the idea of traveling to Dublin so I wasnt sure what to expect. I got colorfully painted buidings, museums and galleries, a fat bald man in a decapitated leprichaun suit talking on his cell phone, almost being hit by a few big blue buses emblazened with city tour logos and the flacid expressions of passengers from behined foggy windows. There was a street performer who juggled i think seven or eight balls, then breathed fire and made fun of the Americans in the audience (who were the only ones cheering,) he said "no no, America is a fine place to come from, its just shite to go back to," I laughed. He said that after the finale of his act we all had to boo him if he failed and if he succeeded in his fire juggling, we all had to cheer, and then he pointed at me and said, "and you sir, you drop your trousers and scream if I make this trick," I gave him the "will-do," thumbs up.
The night saw me buying a few Cuban cigars to share with a few friends. American girls dolled up and ready to sit and look unamused at everything. The guys were mostly Irish and when it got late all took to calling me Gingie or Ginger Lad, and would tug at my face.
We were at this one pub, "The Reelists" was the name of the traditional band playing at the first stop. They played Ordinary Man, and fitingly enough, Rocky Road to Dublin, and I went up to the stage on my way out and said they were fantastic, and we talked for a bit, exchanged names, I said I was from the NorthEast of the States and they said "well, we will dedicate the next song to Mike Vance from the NorthEastern of the States," so I left pub #1 with a song dedicated to me.
At this same pub one of my friends had managed to get in with these four girls who looked like maybe they'd be fun to hang around with. They were from the midwest and turned out to be not fun to hang around with. They were polite enough but never said anything and just sat down and never said anything. So we ended up leaving them behind.
The music was amazing all night, at pub #2 they played some Irish revolutionary music about their old heros. Pub #3 they played a few funny songs, but it was mostly traditional Irish or Johnny Cash, with a few Beatles covers everywhere we went which suited me perfectly. I knew all the words and when I'd dranken enough to shout them out with everybody else, the old men would look impressed and say I was alright, and we would take the songs into the streets where passers by would join in. I was given a solo during one of these musicals and the locals all drunkenly nodded their approval. One guy said that anytime I wanted to cross the boarder and become an Irishman he would come vouche for me. "Any ginger lad who knows these songs..."
I ended up buying a drink for a girl who had her arms around me, but at the bar my friend was whispering something about a boyfriend. She drank her drink, dissapeared, and on the way out I had to squeeze by her and her fella making out in the stairwell. Life lesson #1.
He was smashed and cursing the bouncer outside a pub. He said I looked like a decent Irish man. We sang a song and he was saying "ahh gingie, ahh gingie." But then a gypsie approached with a rattling paper cup and started tugging at me and saying something about six kids needing food. Dennis sprang into action and started pushing her away and shouting NAH FOOK OFF, to her and FOOK 'ER to me. Now at the time I was trying to count the drinks I'd had in my head while attempting to use these wimpy matches to light my cigar, and one by one the matches would go out and fall from my fingers away to the wet pavement at our feet, FOOK OFF and I'd keep lighting them and telling the gypsie I didnt have any change and the matches kept going out and the gypsie was pulling a lighter from the folds in her clothes FOOK 'ER, GINGIE and I'd exhausted my matches to a pile of wet sticks on the ground and the three of us ended up in the street doing this horrible druken ring-round-the rosie dance, Dennis cursing the gypsie, the gypsie trying to light my cigar with a broken lighter and me, all grabbing at one another and hollering and begging and cursing and spitting, (mostly Dennis did the spitting, ) and finally the cigar was lit, and in my face was a rattling paper cup. Let me make clear, while I know the cup rattlers who grab at your pockets and talk about their 4 hungry children and accuse you of holding out on the poor are almost always running scams (and have a decent racket what with all the oblivious tourists coming in all the time; me,) it was close to the end of the night, and I had been drinking. I told her, in my bleary old mind something that made sense I guess. I told her I was going straight to heaven after this, and she touched my face, and I slipped a 20 into her cup.
And i think I'd feel better about myself if I hadnt. Life Lesson #2. They target drunk tourists.
So after that, to be honest became a blur. I was in Dublin and I was having a good time. We stopped at a few more pubs. We would just hear music and kick the door in to some tavern where people were dancing and we would join in. There was one bar where I danced with this really smashed guy to rock versions of traditinal songs like Fields of Athenry and Tell Me Ma, him and his friends took to me alright and led me downstairs to a dance party where me and a friend danced with four hip 40 year old ladies to songs like These Boots Were Made For Walking, and Devil Went Down to Georgia, to which they didnt seem to know the words, but they liked us an awful lot until they started making fun of my friends eyebrows.
There was this one moment when we realized that I was smoking a Cuban cigar in front of an American flag in a European city.
All the girls in one pub were doing this and they told me to do it too. I complied.
Also, they liked my hat.
The morning was a tour of the city on foot, a trip to the bank and a viewing of the bogmen. Prehistoric fellas who had been sacrificed in a bog and then dug up by peat farmers. They had hair and fingerprints and leather skin and very intact faces.
We also got to see Francis Bacon's studio. This could have been one of the best parts of the trip.
I was hoping to run into Shane MacGowan but never did.