Friday, 27 July 2007

How Salthill became Greenland, and I learned to love yellow!

Sometimes I can still surprise myself. One rainy morning a few weeks ago I saw some lads brushing yellow paint onto the pavement by the Mutton Island causeway. 

By now the entire length of the Prom will likely be covered in a yellow coat of Ecoflex, and regular readers of lesser mental dispositions than yours might be trembling in nervous anticipation, aware of this colyoom's campaign against Yellow Paint Syndrome, a heinous virus more deadly and subversive than our very own Crypto Spillsoutyerbum. 

For years YPS has been spreading throughout Ireland, removing the white from whitewash. 

Along our roads run double yellow lines, yellow hard shoulder lines, leading to yellow gravel drives up to yellow bungalows, where inside the people are yellow because their livers have failed, and and and calm down 

calm down. 


So, it would not be unreasonable to expect me to rant and rail against the new All Yellow Prom. 

But I like it, almost as much as I love being unpredictable. 

Well, no, I don't actually like it. I preferred the old concrete, but we are merely the feeble citizens of Galway, best left unaware that beloved Council decided beloved Prom needed to be yellow. 

Do I hate the yellow Prom? 

No, Sam I Am! 

I do not hate the yellow Prom. 

The new surface comes with strange side effects. The other morning, the universe gave us a rare blue sky, which allowed the water in the bay to turn into that deep vital crystal blue, beloved of Connemara's lakes. 

With the sun beating down on my wobbly sweaty form, I started to lose the power of sight. 

My entire world was going green. 

Below me: the Yellow Prom, dazzling in the sunlight, bouncing yellow light and burning it onto my retina; to my right: the Waterfront Hotel, the Galway Bay Hotel, the Promenade Hotel, and the Salthill Hotel: yellow all. 

To my right: Galway Bay, the blue so blue, bombing my rods and cones and all the other eye-bits that I cannot remember from biology class. 

All of a sudden my world was suffering from what I learned at my first ever day at school: If you dip your brush into the blue paint and then the yellow paint, you get green paint. 

A film of green light was wobbling around in front of my eyes, making me feel distinctly dizzy, and a bit scared of falling off the edge of the Prom down to the beach below. 

There used to be a yellow line down there to help you spot the edge. Now 'down there' looks the same as 'over there' and 'up there'. 

It's all gone green.

Is this a new eco-tactic by Galway City Council to turn us into Eco Warriors, by forcing us to see Green? 

Is this why the Emerald City was at the end of the Yellow Brick Road? 

Did Dorothy and her chums suffer from an overdose of blue skies and yellow bricks, or was it just the peyote cocktails those Munchkins were pouring? 

Please don't let me bump into somebody now, because I will have to stand in front of them and try to guess who they are in green, and I can't see, and anyway, at the best of times I'm pretty crap at knowing who people are. 

My brain is very small, and when I am walking the Prom (and most of the other time too), it is focused on either being away with the faeries, pondering the next chapter of my novel, or concentrating on my breathing rate, posture and pace. 

So if, after exercise, whilst pumped up on fresh oxygen and negative ions, I engage you in friendly banter and let slip a chunk of social inadequacy, it is neither a sleight of you, nor your character, nor how high I hold you in esteem. 

It's just me being pathetic. 

Yes indeedy, and if all this gushy soul-searching is starting to smell as if these coals have been burned over glowing embers of guilt, then give yourself a pat on the back. 

A month before the Prom was hit by YPS, I yelled at a man I know on the Prom, loudly berating him for having disappeared without a trace, and further accusing him - quite obscenely, as I recall - of being a slippery slimy three-toad sloth. 

Said slagging was delivered with a broad smile and good will, and might have been met and returned with equal gusto had yer man been the bloke I thought he was. 

But he wasn't, and instead, being a gentleman of the old school who knows me but a tad, he stood still for a second with his head down, his eyes squeezed tight and his brow furrowed. 

"Jeeze, Charlie, what do you mean? I've done no such thing!" 

At which point my brain suddenly lifted itself from its self-indulgent soak in the mighty Swamp of Ego, and I realised who he was. I'd thrown a stinking great pile of socially inadequate pooh into the fan, and splattered an innocent bystander. 

Rather than digging a dishonest hole, I decide to be honest; to try and keep things simple. 

"Sorry Paddy, I thought you were someone else!" 

Which was fine on one level, because it displayed the fact that I knew the gentleman's correct name, but in every other way it was a bit of a disaster. 

I mean, how rude can you get? 

In my case, very, apparently. 

So henceforth, if the yellow Prom behaves itself and remains yellow, I will, when presented with my own ignorance, plead Green Blindness. 

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