On my lunchbreak I went downstairs to the Spar to buy an apple.
As it was Friday, I decided to get a posh takeaway coffee to welcome the weekend and Culture Night. Noticing a tiny barbershop beside the coffeeshop and needing a haircut I went in, to be informed that only cash payments would be accepted. How very ‘Ozark’ I thought to myself. It’s highly unlikely that money is laundered through that business, but that television show has alerted me to the myriad of ways in which to sanitise money.
I crossed the road to the bank machine.
‘Is it you again?’ roared the man through the open window of his car. He alit from the vehicle, his eyes ablaze, his voice irate.
I stared at him in stupefied bewilderment.
‘You’re after dropping something on the ground.’
He thought I was a litter lout.
‘Thanks’ I replied walking back to the white item. It was a large tissue – the kind I have never used. There was no way on earth I was touching that. It could have cooties. Glancing nervously back at the flustered gentleman I could see he was shouting into his phone. He wouldn’t notice me ignoring someone else’s litter.
The permanent move back to Limerick is progressing. These last few months since I obtained the keys to my new residence have seen me spending more time in Limerick than I have in decades. As I work out my notice on my lease in Dublin, I have been splitting my time – to ease me gently back in to life in m y hometown. One of the habits I acquired during lockdown in Dublin was the consumption of a bowl of porridge every day for breakfast – often accompanied by a boiled egg. In the absence of a subsidised work canteen during the plague, I had to fend for myself. Thanks to the pandemic I finally rediscovered the childhood joy of porridge – this time in the microwave. While I have long been a fan of a humble bowl of oatmeal, the gunk left at the bottom of the pan was off-putting. No longer – two and have minutes in the nukowave will suffice – with no scrubbing afterwards. Kearneys porridge from L’Idylle was my go to brand – featuring frequently as it did on the L’Idylle weekly bonus offers. Upon moving to Limerick, to my horror, I discovered that there was no budget, German supermarket near my house. I ventured to Dunnes where a tube of own brand porridge and a tube of Flahavans were purchased. Both were a vile taste of disappointment – lacking the texture and flavour of L’Idyyle’s version – being, stodgy, bland and flavourless.
May 22nd 2015 is the day that Ireland became the first country in the world where marriage equality was legalised thanks to a popular vote, when 62% of voters said that we were equal.
On 24th May 2015, the day after the count Limerick woman Ann Blake received a text from her brother, asking ‘How’s the morning after the life before?’ This question became the title of the play ‘The morning after the life before’ which subsequently toured the country and the world. I saw this play in Bewleys Theatre in Dublin in March 2018. This year for Limerick Pride, Dolan’s Warehouse in Limerick staged the reprisal. As my move home to Limerick will be finalised by next month I thought I’d pay a return visit. I am happy to have done so.
Yesterday was Bloomsday in Dublin. In 1922 the novel ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce was published and recounted the activities of a man – Leopold Bloom – over the single day 16th June 1904 in Dublin. Since that time that day has become a day for commemoration and celebration of the book, and the life of the writer. There are cultural and literary events all over the city, with particular attention on the locations around the city mentioned in the book. Devotees dress up in Edwardian outfits, and everyone has a jolly good time. I enjoy the festivities.
Yesterday I decided to mark the event by attending the Bewley’s Café Afternoon Theatre to see ‘Little Cloud’ – an adaptation of the short story ‘Little Cloud’ which had originally appeared in Joyce’s 1914 collection ‘Dubliners’. Adapted for the stage by Patricia Browne, directed by Vincent Patrick and produced by Judder Theatre, it tells the tale of office worker Tommy Chandler (played by Stephen Kelly) who is meeting his old college friend Ignatius Gallagher (Vincent Patrick) for drinks in the Shelbourne Hotel. Tommy is a dreamer and had great dreams of becoming a writer. Meanwhile it is Ignatius who has achieved literary success in London and New York with his celebrity interviews.
*UPDATE* June 1st 2022 – the following post is from 2018. Last year for Pride, some male managers dressed up in drag – remotely. I shudder to think what this year will bring.
The rainbow flag fluttered proudly in the breeze as I approached the office. I entered the building. Someone had been busy overnight. The lobby was festooned with rainbow flags and balloons. Gay Pride had reached the Wastelands and my office was celebrating.
Over the weekend I travelled to the West of Ireland for a cabaret show. On Friday afternoon I took the tram out to the Red Cow. The Red Cow is on the outskirts of Dublin and marks the point where country people know they have arrived in the Big Smoke. I was being collected there from where we would drive to our ultimate destination – Galway city. The tram journey was surreal – firstly a very polite sixteen year old offered me his seat. I know that my hair is white, but surely I retain some semblance of youthful effervescence, remaining as I am, in my forties. A few stops further a woman boarded with nine children. All were hers it would appear. Some of the older children were carrying cooked chickens in brown paper bags. The chicken grease leaked all over the floor. I offered her a plastic Marks and Spencer bag which she gratefully accepted. When the ticket inspectors boarded the tram, it was discovered that none of the party of ten had a valid ticket. I have no idea what happened, as the next stop was the Red Cow where I disembarked.
We weren’t travelling to Galway that night. We were spending it in the midlands just outside Athlone – a town on the River Shannon that I had heretofore never visited. We had a drink in Sean’s Bar overlooking the river. This is one of the many bars in the land that claims to be the nation’s oldest. I was impressed by the sight of Linda Gray and Larry Hagman (Sue-Ellen and JR Ewing) in a photograph taken of them sometime in the 1980s, standing outside the bar. We each gave our impression of a drunken Sue-Ellen. Our AirBnB was located on the Roscommon side of the town, and was a very lovely old farmer’s cottage. The following morning I opened my curtains to the sight of a grey horse who had wandered into the garden overnight. The cottage owner knew who owned the beast so we bid farewell to our breakfast companion when his owner collected him.
As the years go by, realisation is dawning on me that Spain is one of my favourite countries in the world to visit. From the buzz of Madrid to the barrios of Barcelona; to the beauty of Granada; the seaside of Malaga and the Yumbo Centre of Maspalomas, it is a country of vast variety and culture; incredible food and scenery and with lovely people. And it’s hot. The proviso I would apply to my love of Spain is that I cannot visit between the months of June to September, not being built to tolerate such intense heat. Last weekend for the 6th time in three years I boarded a plane for Espana. My destination was the Spanish Atlantic – the cities of San Sebastian and Bilbao in the Basque Country – a region located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Euskal Herria is the Basque name for the area.
It’s an area I have long known about, but never visited. Upon moving to Amsterdam in the year 2000 I was friends with a woman from the area who described a region of enormous beauty. Aer Lingus offers direct flight to the area’s capital Bilbao. The time to visit was finally here.
Ryanair is an airline that receives a lot of deservedly bad press. Its lack of customer service; its ability to charge extra for absolutely everything; its habit of charging more for a flight change than it is to simply abandon your initial flight and instead make a brand new booking; its hard sell at every point of the booking and flying process – I doubt the children’s charities who are meant to benefit from Ryanair lottery tickets receive much funding from the airline Like clockwork Michael O’Leary issues a press release every couple of years to announce that Ryanair are going to start charging to use the toilets on board. Cue lots of press outrage over this publicity stunt, even though everyone knows that free toilets are a legal onboard requirement in the aviation industry.
I have no issue with Ryanair. It is upfront about how horrible it is, almost proud of this fact. You get what you pay for – and woe betide you if you miss something – the airline won’t help. I like the fact that it flies to many destinations that other airlines don’t offer. It can also be very cheap so long as you check the small print. Your €9.99 trip to Amsterdam will actually cost you €140 when you add in the price of the return flight; the price of a carry-on bag and the train transfer from Eindhoven to Amsterdam. With a bit of plotting you can get some deals.
Two weeks ago the carrier had one of its flash 24 hour sales. I had a quick look at saw that a return flight from Dublin to Paphos in Cyprus including a carryon bag would cost €120. This is the longest flight on the Ryanair network. The flight lasts about 5 hours. More horrifically, the outbound leg of the journey was at 5.45am on Friday morning. Needs must.
This May bank holiday Monday sees the welcome return of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, for the first time since 2019. Now in its 19th year, the pandemic of the past two years had thwarted its occurrence for two years. It’s back for the next two weeks, featuring twenty-three productions in various venues around the city. Check out the 2022 programme on http://www.gaytheatre.ie.
For my matinee viewing today I went to the Main Hall in the Teachers’ Club on Parnell Square to see a comedy double bill ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Three Queens Stuck in Dublin’.
A springtime trip to France sounded like a good idea. Especially as it had been almost fifteen years since I had visited that beautiful country. We decided to avoid Paris. France is a vast country (by European standards) and has appealing destinations other than its glorious capital. A quick scan of the Ryanair and Aer Lingus destinations from Dublin produced a clear winner- the city of Lyon. When I mentioned this to my sister she recommended a daytrip to Annecy. After a quick online search of that town we decided that a trip to both cities was required. And so our tickets were booked.
For my reading entertainment on the lunchtime flight to Lyon, I was reading ‘Not the girl next door’ a biography of Hollywood legend Joan Crawford. Joan seemed like a suitable guardian angel for air travel. In case of turbulence I could picture her snarling ‘Don’t f*ck with me weather, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo’ (to paraphrase Faye Dunaway in ‘Mommie Dearest’.) Press 2 below for next page