Maybe Not Migrating Just Yet

While watching the opening scene of Once:

Me: Why the hell is he busking on such a shitty, dead street?!
Alec: That is Dublin’s main street.


Hatty Birthday To Me

I used to have a big green leprechaun hat in London, a gift from Brian and Esther when a visit of theirs coincided with my birthday one year. Unfortunately, when I was leaving London and drastically pruning my possessions before shipping them back to Singapore, I ended up having to leave the hat behind. Alec promised to donate it to a needy leprechaun, but you know you can never trust these wily Irish and their meaningless promises.

But once I’d been in Singapore a while, I started to really miss my hat. I could have replaced it with one of those Guinness hats the Irish pubs give out for St Patrick’s Day, but I’m usually too busy celebrating MY DAY MINE MINE ME ME ME to be in the pub letting some snake-wrangling saint dude steal my thunder.

So when Alec asked what I’d like for my birthday, I jokingly said I wanted a Guinness hat. I was too lazy this year to throw a sequel to my 2006 Craic Whores birthday party, but someday I will, and I’ll need a good hat.

So there I was a week ago, the night of my birthday, on the way to meet Alec for a nice dinner at Senso. Alec had messaged that he was already at Maxwell hawker centre, where we’d meet and walk to Senso together. I got off the bus and walked towards the big traffic junction to cross over to Maxwell, phoning Alec to say I’d arrived. He didn’t pick up. I shrugged and figured I’d just walk into Maxwell and probably find him somewhere among the uncles nursing a beer.

I reached the junction, pressed the button to cross, and waited impatiently for a few seconds. Then I saw a man diagonally across the junction, standing very straight and tall and still, getting anything from furtive giggles to outright laughs from the locals standing around him, almost like they thought he was one of those human statues and they were trying to figure out what would happen if they tossed him 50 cents. Standing there, looking straight at me from across the junction. Wearing a Guinness hat.

[BTW, this is not the “simultaneously best and worst present ever” I mentioned earlier. Still working on an entry about that one, photos are crucial and I might even try a video.]

You’ll Laugh! You’ll Cry! You’ll Hurl!

On Saturday afternoon, we headed to the Polo Club to watch the Hurling All Stars Challenge. As you of course know, hurling is…er…um…an Irish sport I have no hope in hell of explaining properly to you. See here for description.

Here are two hurling-related exchanges.

#1 (On the way to the match.)
Me: Traffic is bad, it looks like we might be late.
Alec: Oh, it’s all right. Each half will be 40 minutes long.
Me: But by the time we show up, it might be hurlf time!
Alec: ……

#2 (Shouted conversation in Zouk later that night.)
Me: Pity you couldn’t join us for the hurling.
Jacob: Yeah, pity. It’s got some nostalgic appeal for me.
Me: Oh, why?
Jacob: When I was at boarding school, at end of term there would be this traditional ________ [insert name of Scottish equivalent of hurling, I didn’t catch it] match, and it was between the normal pupils and the prefects.
Jacob: Well, my “favourite” prefect lost a tooth.

A Bleak Future In Gambling

I admit it, I’m stuck in the past. I sit here and try to think of something to write, but because my current life is boring beyond belief, and generally involves little more than me sitting in front of this laptop typing exam notes about judicial politics in France, me sitting in front of the TV watching Beyonce’s (fine) ass, and me sitting at the dining table eating chicken rice, I need to go back to a time I had fun. I’ll tell you about Ireland.

We were there to go to the Galway Races. And according to a secret plan of Alec’s, to also make me go up in a very small plane and make some pretence of learning to fly it. I don’t think he was planning to tell me this until I was actually thundering down the runway bug-eyed, but James let it slip earlier in the day. Fortunately or unfortunately, my date with the deathtrap had to literally take a rain check when weather conditions were unsuitable for flying, but I’m sure he’ll find a way of bundling me on another one some time in the future.

The Galway Races turned out to be quite similar to the Wimbledon Greyhound Races, except the things running along the track were bigger, and the chicks were better dressed. The major point of similarity between my two experiences with gambling is that we lost every bet here too. In the biggest race of the day, I scanned the 22 horses that were running and one stood out to me: Nearly A Moose. “Guys? I like Nearly A Moose! How about Nearly A Moose, huh guys?” The general response was that me liking the name was all very well, but look at its mediocre track record. I bowed before those who I thought knew better, and bet on another horse. Guess who won with odds of 52-1.

Further reliving our creeping dejection is too painful. I turn now to our creeping drunkenness. On the way back from the races, we stopped at a number of pubs. I forget how many exactly. At some point I revealed to Alec’s organic farmer friends that he often sought out organic food in the supermarkets. This brought much ridicule for him and hearty chuckles of “Take it from us, organic farming is bollocks!” At some other point I was at the bar ordering a round when the giggling ten-year-old boy beside me asked me if I was single on behalf of the very drunk old man beside him. We left the last pub around 1.30 in the morning. The third farmer brother had to milk the cows at 6. When we stopped along the way home to drop his girlfriend off, he decided to follow her, and did so amid shouts of “But what about the cows?” Poor cows.

The Fields Of Athenry Can Just Fuck Off

On the train home from the Lake District, we had to share a carriage with a group of boisterous Irish football fans, who were filled with joy that Ireland had just beaten Bosnia 6-0 and felt the need to share this with us for four hours.

After the fifth bawled rendition of the low-lying fields of Athenry, where once we watched the small free birds fly, HEY BABY WATCH THE FREE BIRDS FLY!!! (it has to be heard for the experience to be fully understood), I phoned Alec and ranted loudly about how he came from a nation of drunks and how his fellow fucking Paddys in my carriage could just take their small free birds flying and stick them where the sun don’t shine and the fucking birds don’t fly. He took it like a man. The people sitting around me (fellow victims, that is, not the minstrels) were a bit rattled.

Hat People

So Ireland may have lost the Six Nations rugby final and given England its first Grand Slam for years in the bargain as well, but to comfort the team and country in their defeat, let it be known that there was a (very, very, very) small corner of central London this afternoon that was forever Ireland. Namely Alec and me (me being proudly Singaporean of course, well, most of the time anyway, but honorarily Irish for an afternoon), sitting at a table in ULU wearing silly (green) hats.

Alec’s hat was especially fun. It’s so big that when I wear it, it drops to rest on my shoulders, thereby hiding my whole head, which is useful if you’re supporting Ireland in a room full of English people.