Tuesday 16 March 2021

...and we all fall over for Ireland!

 Thanks as always to Allan Cavanagh of https://www.caricatures-ireland.com/


An excerpt from Double Vision in the Tribune back in 1993, describing my first Paddy's Day in Ireland.

As I awake I’m shivering from head to toe, and a twinge of cramp is rising from my left ankle up to my calf muscles.

Lifting my leg to ease the pain, I realise that I am not in my own bed. I am somewhere else. Somewhere with a much smaller bed.  

Moving forward I fall off this strange bed and hit the floor, buttocks first. Letting out a moan, my head bangs against something metallic. 

Hmm, metallic and hot. I hope it’s a stove, ‘cos if it’s not, then wherever this is, it’s burning down.  

No, if it was burning down there’d be flames and light and heat. Yes, light and heat. That is all I’m capable of thinking, so I lie down and congratulate myself on my Holmesian deduction.  

The pain in my head comes not solely from being banged against metallic objects. This pain demands that I remember the recent past. It is a pain that begs the questions:

‘How much did I have?’
‘Where am I?’ and
‘How did I get here?’  

First things first. I reach into my jeans pocket and find several lighters of the disposable kind. So I was stealing lighters again. Six lighters in my pocket. Must have been a hell of a night.

I flick one on and realise that I’m in a caravan.
 On a nearby table is a candle, which I light, and a peat briquette, which I throw into the stove, before collapsing back onto the bed, exhausted.

My watch tells me it’s 03:30 am on the night of March 19th.

“Okay mate,” I say out loud to myself, “start at the beginning.”

Claddagh Quay on Paddy’s Day, the bands are setting off, the kiddies looking sweet as cherry pie in their outfits. The parade moves and I follow it a while, because I’ve decided that it’s way too early to go to a pub.

Wrestling with the crowds in Eyre Square I watch children playing in the soap-filled fountain, and then some Gardai push through the hordes, and I tuck in behind them, making the most of the wonderful space that parts for them as they move.

All of a sudden I’m outside an Tobar, and amazingly there’s a barstool free, and Whispering Blue serving.

Pints of the black stuff seem to appear in front of me from all directions, and then I have that dangerous cavernous feeling inside me; the kind of cavern that gets flooded at high tide.

After that it all gets a little hazy, but I can remember seeing the Far Canals gig at Vagabonds, and a Vauxhall Cavalier stopping for my raised thumb at Merlin Park.

I can remember seeing a lot of people falling over; falling down in the street; falling onto the dance floor. Must be an ancient St. Patrick’s Day tradition.

“So you’re awake!”

A soft warm female voice rises from under the bed sheets. 
Oh bliss. I know where I am. I’m in my lovely friend’s caravan in a field in Doolin.

“Have I behaved myself?”

“Oh yes, you have been the perfect gentleman, apart from arriving in the middle of the night yesterday.”

“Oh sorry.”

“No, it was lovely to see you, but be careful when you try to stand. You were falling down a lot!”

Oh was I? Seems like I’m becoming more Irish all the time.