A day of active observation

Yesterday was a day jam-packed with activity that mainly involved me sitting down. As  I had already mentioned, the afternoon was for seeing the matinee of ‘Juno and rhe Paycock’ by Sean O’Casey, in the Gate.

As predicted it was wonderful. It’s a large and fairly ornate theatre, located in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital, and has chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. This was in marked contrast to the set which was a tenement slum room. It looked suitably shabby, but I know enough about sets to know that this shabby set took a fair wodge of cash to assemble. It looked impressive. Then again the set we built for our version looked suitably grim and poverty stricken as well – although that was because the budget for our set actually was somewhat tighter than at the Gate.

Even though I knew the plot well, it was still edge of the seat stuff. And certain things stood out – slight differences in how the text was spoken for example – paying particular attention to the character of Joxer Daly, as that is ‘my’ part. Other minor little things struck me – like why, oh why, in the Gate production does Mary have black hair? Everyone knows the character of Mary has red hair. Which is nonsense of course, but I couldn’t help looking at the piece through the lens of my own experience with the play.

The performance was sold out. At the end I sidled my way to the stage to have a proper nose about, and an usher clearly keeping his eye on me told me that no photographs were allowed. And I honestly hadn’t intended to take pictures. I was genuinely curious.

After the play we headed across the road to Parnell Street – which has become the unofficial Asiatown of Dublin, with a range of Chinese, and Vietnamese, and Thai and Korean and Japanese shops, bars and restaurants. We went to Kim-Chi – a Korean restaurant. Kim-chi is pickled cabbage, therefore very good for your gut.And rumour has it that in Korean society kim-chi holds a place of similar importantance, that spuds have in Irish cuisine.

Some kim-chi pancakes were consumed, along with squid, spiced chicken and a dish called bibimbap – which is an assemble yourself brought to the table in a flaming hot clay pot, and involves rice, vegetable, egg and meat or fish , and you mix it all up yourself.

Korean food is a mystery to me as I had never eaten it before. This wasn’t an intentional oversight, but rather that for some unknown reason Amsterdam didn’t have any Korean restaurants. Why that is, I have no idea. I do remember there being a Korean place on Marnixstraat, and ten years ago I decided to give it a try one Friday evening, only to find it shuttered.

I am happy to say that finally Korean cuisine has met the Murphy palate, and it’s a match made in heaven.

After the meal I met another friend, as we had intentions of going to see a band. The band was a covers band called ‘The Seattle Grunge Experience’ – heavy on the Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden tracks – I expected. It was being held in Fibber Magees – a legendary rock bar on Parnell Street that has existed for as long as I remember – certainly it was around 25 years ago.

I had never been in it previously.When I lived in Dublin in the last century, my preferred venues for evening entertainment were quite limited – gay bars basically. Years in Amsterdam encouraged my tastes to be slightly more adventurous and I was curious to see what a rock venue in Ireland was like. Not too different to a rock venue in Amsterdam really. Similar music, similar clientele and in spite of the metal music, quite a laid back atmosphere.

And several pool tables. Without pool tables it cannot be a rock bar.

I boogied to the sounds of Seattle, and when ‘Smells like teen spirit’ came on – the finale of course, I was transported back to a time,when I was 17 again, raging with hormones and rebellion. There were quite a few oldsters similar to me carrying on in the same manner, but pleasingly the most boisterous reactions were coming from the ‘so young, I am surprised they were allowed in’ crowd.

A very pleasant day.


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