Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Dublin adventure!

I had just finished a week’s work in John Murphy’s house; he had bought a house in Llanberis that had some fire damage. I ripped all the old plasterboard down and assisted the tradesmen with their duties of repairing the gaff. £200 pounds is what I got for it; and so I packed my bags and off I went. I caught the ferry over to Dublin, £200 quid, what was I thinking? I had with me one bag of clothing and my guitar and that was it, oh yeah I had a business card that was given to me by a lad from back home that had recommended me that I go to Dublin, because there was loads of work there. Well he wasn’t wrong it was the time when the Celtic Tiger was at its most ferocious; money was flooding in from the European Union, and the boom was in full bloom. There were cranes peppered across the Dublin skyline and the prospects seemed good. I recall lugging my bag and guitar around quite the timid country boy, hustle and bustle, just crossing the road was exciting. I looked for a hostel, popping into this one and that one, noticing all the hip young backpackers hanging out; full of energy and all so cool. I wanted to be amongst them, sharing this wonderful epoch that was happening, they looked as if this was the time of their lives, and me, well I just felt a little unsure. I would have to find my feet somehow though, that was for sure.

Finally after some traipsing around and gathering information from people here and there, I ended up staying in a hostel that was just around the corner to the big bus depot. This place was massive and had lots of rooms, dormitory’s, I checked in dumped my stuff in the room and headed out round town, just for a spin like. It was dirty, grimy and busy, there were folk from all over the world there; I felt excited and lonely. I had to find ways of getting on with folks, interrupting conversations, high jacking them. I also had to thicken my skin somehow. I recall spotting some high rise office building and the top of it looked as if it had Chinese style architecture, this was my marker and what I used to navigate my way home. I liked the dirty river full of traffic cones and shopping trolley’s and god knows how many Dutch Gold lager cans.
Of an evening I used to go out busking in the trendy area called Temple bar, when I say trendy I mean it was like a stage prop, you know it looks good but was only a temporary fixture, what I mean in saying this is that it was where all the out of town people’s used to go, because they thought that that was Dublin, well it was. It was the Dublin that had been constructed for them, bright and shiny and expensive. After I finished busking I used to hit the town for drinks, getting myself in with the gentry sometimes, and sometimes not. There is no worse feeling than ending up drunk on your own; desperation and weirdness invite themselves around for a party within your soul. The Doors tune starts going around and around in your head on a loop, “people are strange, when you’re a stranger, women seem ugly, when you are down”; you internalise things like this and somehow manage to turn yourself into a weirdo, finally consigning yourself to go home and sleep it off – all by your lonesome.
In the hostel they had a common room, which was usually full of backpacking types, you know the types, they usually have their national flag stitched into their backpacks and they talk about how many countries “they have done”. I don’t know what they mean when they say "doing a country", it makes them sound as if they are comparing a country to a girl they have picked up in a club to take home for a casual shag, thusly just doing her, no emotional attachment just short lived and fast paced pleasure. I think they mean to say that they went to all the places that all the other backpackers went, and that they hung around with all the other backpackers, taking photos at the places they were supposed to take photo’s just to prove that they were there, but not really experiencing the country at all, just passing through seeing everything but tasting nothing. Well it was full of those types, and at the time It didn’t seem apparent to me of the stark truth that was staring me in the face, so I just did my best to get on and fit in, harvesting the appropriate information needed for me to get by.
One evening I got back drunk and arrived back at my dormitory opened the door to a room full of sleeping people. I swayingly took off my clothes falling this way and that. When I had finally divested myself and got my bearing’s in the dark I could faintly make out my bed, it was a bottom bunk, I dove the final three feet hoping to land right in and fall to sleep straight away; no such luck though as my body entered the bed it encountered a mass akin to a brick wall which stopped me in my tracks and nearly knocked me for six. I withdrew reeling seeing stars “ umm, what the fuck”, well evidently there was a man who had the build of a Grizzly Bear sleeping in my  bed, I had to skulk away quietly in fear for my life at present; I did this in the style of a zombie feeling the beds to see if there were humans inside them. “Fuck off” seems to be the standard reactionary blurt that comes from people who are fondled by some drunkard in the dark. After an age of molesting strangers in the dark, I finally found an empty bed; I got my money from out my trousers and placed it inside my pillow, it didn’t seem like there was much left. “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO” cried the internal voice, “GO TO SLEEP” retorted the other.
The girl who worked in the reception was for want of better words a fat ginger haired boiler, well she was Canadian and every time I walked passed she got me to stop and talk to her, she liked the guitar and this and that, and she used to work in another part of Ireland in another hostel, on the coast somewhere, and during her time there they all used to blast ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ the song by Van Morrison, “oh it was the best Mattie”, she said to me, Mattie is my name by the way, just in case you were wandering. I mainly just listen to people when they talk and just try to find something relevant to say back to them, and more often than not they think they have been engaged in a conversation with a person who loves to talk, but in actual fact it’s them that do the talking- well to an extent you know.
I don’t know how long what little money I have left will hold out, still no sign of a job anywhere, even with the busking it is hard to find enough for the hostel and food and all the rest. Oh I don’t know what to do, so I carry on the same way going out busking, drinking and looking for work in the day time, but there is no luck. Finally judgment day comes I have not a penny on me, my mind races around thinking of the short term solutions; sleeping rough or whatever. And so I pack up my bag and guitar and head out the hostel, and on my way out the reception I hope that the ginger one is there- well it turns out she wasn’t so I hang out in the common room watching the box. Finally she turns up, thank fuck, so I casually walk past waiting for her to pounce on me. Quickly I aim some words at her with an air of indifference laced with despair and sadness, “right then, I’ll be seeing you”, “why where are you going” she says, It gets more embarrassing at this point, “I have run out of money so I’ll have to sleep out rough” I reply just staring at the ground stealing the odd darted glance at her. “Oh my god Mattie, you can’t do that”, I tell her I have no choice in the gravest of voices, I am really into it at this point, this in situ acting is making me believe myself; well it wasn’t a lie, but I was selling the story well. Of course she offered me a place to stay, I told her that I would cook and clean and all the rest of it. She asked me to play “Brown Eyed Girl”, “I don’t know it” I said and alternatively played “Blackbird” by the Beatles, she loved it.
It wasn’t like I had many alternatives; this was the only card I had up my sleeve, and so the gaff was alright, and I did do a bit of cooking and cleaning- at least the pressure was off for a while.
I slept on the floor and she slept in her bed. One evening she had gone out with her friends on the razz and came home at a late hour, when she arrived home all liquored up, she made advances at me. I had figured it would come sometime or other. I could feel her hand move up and down my waist and she gave me the odd prod, I just turned over and acted the best snore that I could; she was persistent though and became more animate and aggressive in her approaches. It came to a head when she gave me a sudden jolt the kind that you could not pretend to be asleep through, and so I said “what”, well she told me in a roundabout way that I had to fulfil her womanly needs or else I had to go! Jesus I was knackered, and besides I don’t really think I described how ugly she was to you, well; ginger hair, and roles of flab, acne-bad acne at that and to be quite frank she was just a weird boring social being, she was no oil painting. Well I tell a lie she was in fact quite similar to a Picasso.
I clambered on top of her and her appetite for lust was insatiable, she was ready and willing for any eventuality, which was all good and proper, but to be honest with you- I just closed my eyes and used my imagination. All I can tell you is that the sensation was warm, warm and moist. After this occasion she assumed I was her boyfriend and so she used to take me out for drinks and the like; when ambulances used to pass in the street she used to close her eyes and say a little prayer. I can recall one time being at a bar with her in broad day light and there was some music on, she started jiggling and gyrating and grabbed me closer to dance with her, ah fuck it if you’re in for a penny you’re in for a pound, and so I span her around the dance floor a few times.
One day I lay down on her bed in the middle of the day for a little snooze, and I felt something rustling inside the pillow case, something like paper. I stuck my hand in between the pillow case to retrieve the aforementioned object, well it was a little piece of paper and on it scribbled in pencil were these words, ‘does he love me or doesn’t he’? I couldn’t imagine that she had another love on the go and thought to myself," I have got to get out of here". I slipped the paper back in the pillow case and just went to sleep.
In the time being I had asked my mum and dad if they could send me over some money and so I awaited its arrival every day. One day I remembered that my friend had given me that business card and had told me to phone the guy up because he was Welsh and that he would give me a job straight away. I phoned up the guy and the words rang true, he gave me a job straight away, well I was to start the next week.
The next day I popped into town to waste time and when I came back a letter had arrived from back home, it was the one I had been waiting for, the one with the money in it. Shortly after the ginger ninja arrived home she quickly informed me that the land lord had found out that I had been staying at her gaff, and that I was to pack my bags and leave; she disgruntledly informed me that she had also received her marching orders as well! Well she got her money's worth out of me any road
I made my way into town walking miles from the outskirts where we lived and managed to find the cheapest hostel in Dublin, it was called Chelsea and it too was located by the main bus depot. It was a flea ridden affair, and in the toilets it had graffiti in every language stating “ostelo di merda” “ostel di mierd” and so on. The toilets had a big hole in the floor, well I went ahead and asked for the cheapest room, it was down in the cellar and I shared it with two Spanish girls, they were nice but a bit intense- they shared their tobacco with me. Maybe I looked like I needed a bit of help!
To be continued............................................

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Brown Carpet

The brown carpet, it’s quite repulsive, and every stain recounts a story of the people that were here before us, I can imagine that there have been a few piss-ups here in the past judging by the stains and the associated stench that the brown carpet kicks up intermittently, I should know I have been waking up on it for three months now. I have a little makeshift pillow that comprises of a rugby sweater stuffed with a few jumpers, and a sleeping bag that decides to open itself as soon as you get in; and of course in the night time when I’m asleep the bastard thing usually opens itself right up leaving me there like some flabby banana that someone has half peeled and discarded. The flat is, shit it’s the pits man, I try to stay in and do a bit of tinkering about on the guitar but It just gets me down being there, the sofa smells of fish, the toilet never flushes properly always full of foul water. I know there are kids in other climes that are suffering and that it is all comparative but I can’t think of that when I walk into the corridor where there is a hole in the roof where the shower of the Lithuanian people that live upstairs leaks; well there are some kind of fungal mushrooms growing from there: - they are quite pretty! Sometimes when I walk past them I comment on them If Sebastian is in the flat “fuckin hell Seb, their coming along good now you know” “wo” he goes as I reply “the mushrooms yea, their prize winning you know” he laughs and peppers me back with the some of our daily banter. Well you have to laugh it off somehow don’t you?

Sebastian and me met about four years ago when we were working in Traffic Management; Traffic Management-well you’d think that we were going to work in suits to push pens around analysing and adjusting data on computer screens, alas no such luck that is if you consider that kind of thing lucky. No Traffic Management in all its glory is a souped-up name for well- you know, those guys who stand there with a stop and go sign, well one of them!  We communicated through means of walkie talkies me at the top of the hill and Sebastian at the bottom. Well I’ll tell you one thing, Sebastian can talk, he can talk about the most mundane technical thing and drag it out for ages, things like the seal on his car door, or putting up shower curtains. He is a machine operator by trade and he is desperate to get on them again, but for the time being he is stuck here with me, and so we while away the time on the walkie talkies, he fills me in on his life history and on his current situation. Living with a Welsh girl called Bethan who has two kids (not by him though), he is kind of obsessive over her but her kids do his head in because he is not allowed to tell them off, because she won’t let him, ( I sometimes wonder If Seb would wish they were dead). We wear the batteries out on the walkie talkies “is it o.k to send them up Matt” “what was the last car then” “I don’t know it was blue or something”, “yea alright fuck it then, send them”. Luckily nobody got hurt it was just that the oncoming cars met each other in the middle and everybody on site had to help in the process of moving cones out the way and backing up cars; what the hell, everybody slagged us for talking on the walkie talkies too much. One day after standing there for about six hours straight, me and Sebastian said let’s just go for our dinner; owing to the fact that no one had come to relieve us of our post, so off we went, up the road to the canteen. One of the head honcho’s was there, (he was not our usual boss), and on our arrival he grunted to Sebastian, “who said you could relieve yourselves”, “well its wo we do if no one comes yeah” he said, head honcho flew off the handle at Seb he went through all the gears until he landed on the final one, which was self- importance, well he revved it up in this one tearing into to Seb. Seb just took it, just because he is Polish and an agency worker; fuck this fat slime ball I says to myself; and so I get riled up and start shouting back at the fat sad man. He is scared and backs off barking orders at the lower ranking workers to “get on the blower and find two other agency workers for the next tomorrow”. “Shove it up you’re chuffer then” says I to him, head honcho went and hid in his office-fat prick. Some of the other lads told us to go and beg for our job back, Seb wanted to go, “ah fuck that Seb, I’m not eating shit, I’d rather go down the road and try and find another job” he said “yeah but wo we gonna do” “fuck it come on lets go” 

We are in the same boat now me and Seb he has finished with Bethan and me I’ve left Siwan the ex and our kids (well I say left but it was more like I was exiled), and she definitely won’t have me back, not for all the tea in China. So me and Seb sit there in the pox hole flat and chat, he Bangs on about his ex “and I sent her a text yeah” “yeah” I go but not really listening, my own head is full of shit and besides he keeps repeating the same story’s. “Well I sent hy a tex an she didn tex me back ye” “yeah” I go begging him to go faster with the story and not to drag it out, but he doesn’t hear the tone of anxiety lacing my voice, and so he goes on; that she is hanging around with some gypo girl who is an ex pole dancer; and that she has gone out four weekends in a row now,  and where is she getting the money; she hangs around with slags and she is doing cocaine all the time and this weekend she is going to go to Blackpool or somewhere. I keep going Yeah, yeah yeah and throw him the odd lifeline to try and rescue him from his despair, offering sound advice like,” well fuck it Seb even if she’s shagging just let her be, the only thing you can do is carry on with your life the best you can”, (I want to shake the hell out of him). Yeah yeah yeah by now I think it is so obvious that every shred of empathy has left my body, I am non- responsive, but Seb is relentless, grind grind grind. Right that’s it, I am going to tell him in no uncertain terms what to do, I flash my head around quickly and look him square in the face; this catches him unawares and then I say to him “Seb shut the fuck up”, I carry on gazing at him to see if this body blow has worked. He was slightly confused for a while and I could see his cognitive process, he discarded it, it didn’t affect him at all, no he just kept right on “yeah bu the thing is yeah, wo she did yeah”. I have never had an outer body experience but I could figure that it would be a simile to this affair, he’s numbed me. I can’t leave straight away though, and so I wait until he pauses and dart off through the door for a pint, just to escape. I can tell Seb to fuck off and he doesn’t care he just carries right on, that’s a hell of a quality to have, he was genuinely unfazed, I wish I was like that-I just use my humour to gloss over everything. Well I wonder if I’ll get lucky tonight-probably not on a Tuesday night, well what the dickens you never know.
Off into a pub called the Black Buoy, it’s the oldest pub in Caernarfon town and it is a pretty one, incidentally the street that I’m walking on is called the 4&6 street, it is named thusly because when the sailors used to dock in the port and come into town, they would be granted the deal of paying 4&6 in old money; and for this they would get a bed for the evening, a pint of Gin, and the piece de resistance………..drum roll please! Yes they got one of Caernarfon’s finest ‘ladies of the night’, darn it, unfortunately the deal isn’t going anymore.
Into the pub I go and sit up on one of the bar stools; I like sitting up at the bar, my Irish friend Andy Connolly converted me to a barside sitter. The young lad asks what I would like “Guinness please” goes up my cry. Staff come and go and there is a funk in the air, usually they cook fish here and my sense of smell could not gauge the odour properly, ‘tis a strange mixture. I don’t recall the barman’s name so for ease of conversation let’s say his name was Garry. Garry and I make idle chit chat, then in walks this Irish guy, he was from the south not far from Cork, by the coast somewhere but the exact location escapes me, and is of no real relevance at any road. I went out for a smoke with him, he had working man’s hands and a colourful flat hat on, he bordered on being dry to the point that he almost didn’t laugh at things externally, (well he said he had only had three hours sleep), which might have had something to do with it and not the fact that my jokes were worn out. He had an interesting job though, he had come over from Ireland to pick up a carriage, I didn’t get it at first but it turns out it was a horse drawn carriage, one of those old fashioned ones, he picks them up and restores them and sells them on for thousands.
Curtis an old friend/acquaintance arrives behind the bar, I’m really not sure how to categorise him, I think he is my friend, after all who isn’t? Curtis is quite high up in the pub now, he did a business course in Liverpool and came back home and landed this job. The smell keeps coming now and again wafts of slightly offensive odours-but they keep hanging there. I sit there watching the staff go about their everyday banter and take it all in, pitching in every now and again with a quip. Then I saw him do it, there was nobody else there and Garry went to the back where the glass cleaning machine was, he did some funny little move that was Michael Jacksonesque lifting one foot off its heal ever so slightly and with one arm respectively turned to his side open palmed, He had a look of relief on his face, and then it suddenly dawned on me as I was consumed by a cloud of noxious gas – that it was him all along! He had been the creator of the foul stench that had loomed in the air all night long. “So it was you all along then, you dirty swine” I said, he crumpled with the hilarity of the situation.
In walks Charles, an old Australian bloke, he had come to see the Welsh guards the following day putting on a display or some shit like that. He was of Welsh decent and so he had come back to his routes, I asked him his name and he said “I am Charles like the prince of your country, except I’m a decent bloke”, I wasn’t sure what to think of Charles, because I have met like 15 or 16 consecutive Australians and most of them pissed me off, loud and abrupt and stereotypical. Well it turns out Charles didn’t add to my statistics of Australian wankers, firstly because he bought me a pint, and secondly cause it turned out that he was a decent real person. Well I would like to say that the wine flowed and the good times rolled, but that would be a lie- the beer was poured and we drank it and got merry, me Curtis, Garry and Charles. Charles was a real charmer with the ladies and fearless at that too, straight in he went grabbing their hands, going in close and introducing himself “I am Charles like the prince of your country, except I’m a decent bloke”, I think he was getting drunk, he hadn’t had many though.
Curtis and Gary challenged me and Charles to a game of darts, Charles as it turns out had never held a dart in his life nor had he ever attempted to throw one at that matter. I coached him telling him to relax and aim and visualise where he wanted the dart to go. Charles had a funny stance when throwing the darts akin to some warrior wielding a spear; we tittered as we exchanged looks when he was throwing. When he got it right and it went in Charles exploded with joy and shook hands with me, we were bonding ever deeper every minuet, and we were winning, they played week- in week- out, but we were thrashing them; all we needed was the bulls eye to finish. I popped to the toilet and when I came back he had done it, he had hit the bull-he was over the moon; you had to admire his enthusiasm for such a small feat but this was the best thing for him-getting in with the locals and winning at a game he had never played before.
Down the hatch the drinks go and through the door we trundle off to the next pub The Ship & Castle.
The Ship & Castle was the only pub that had a lock inn on a week night, it was busy and people kept coming and going, “must be the local hotspot” exclaimed Charles, “yep” I replied-Garry bought us all a shot of whisky, “come on Charles, down the hatch then”, I egg him on; and so he swallows it down in one swig, winces and goes “bloody hell mate”. Another game of darts is on the cards with the same set up as earlier, by now though Charles is inebriated, he closes one eye as he takes his throws, sometimes hitting the wall and sometimes getting it perfect. I buy drinks for everyone and an extra one for me, some old lady who is an accountant is counting the scores for us, marking them with chalk on the chalk board; she eggs on Charlie.
One of the lads asks what Charlie’s name is in his presence, (the smell is back, Garry’s a dirty bastard) “I am Charles like the prince of your country, except I’m a decent bloke”, “bloody hell Charles you’ve said that all night, could you knock it off please” I say to him, the lads laugh and so does he, it was becoming his mantra. We are ahead again and everyone is egging Charlie on, in-between he manages to charm every woman in the pub.
I duck outside for a fag feeling more drunk as the minuets pass, and when I came back in old Charlie had done It again he had won the game for us; I suspect that he might be some kind of hustler (the smell hits us again), Garry is basking in the glory of his farts, he’s so proud.
Charles bids us farewell and it was a short affair, he had to get up to see the Welsh guards the next day, what a charmer and a gent he was. So off we go to Curtis’s gaff with carry outs galore; Garry’s mashed up by now all over the place one step forward, two to the left, leaning back, in view, out of view hanging on to railings. There are some other stragglers that join us on route also. Garry and Curtis are acquainted with them. When we got to Curtis’s gaff it started off alright but I don’t recall at what time of the night it was, but a certain drink tipped me over the edge; I don’t know why I didn’t go earlier I sat there probably looking like some person who could neither understand English or speak it. I eventually had enough when Curtis was speaking directly at me but I couldn’t compute, “am am gnna go you know Cyrt” “why” he said, “am am focd ye no” I slurred. So off I went back home again feeling, well I don’t know really, indifferent but fucked, happy but sad, because once again I had failed in my questing to secure some female company, even if I could get a girl to breathe on me, it would be something! Anyway enough fantasising for me I have had my skin full, I am rendered useless and I know my place, the only place fit for me the floor of the flat sprawled across the repulsive brown carpet.