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............................................