All Off To Dublin In The Suit

Ceannt Station GalwayHmm. Iarnród Eireann (Irish Rail) are sneaky. Offer a low fare if you book online, then add an administration fee – for booking online. IarnRyanaireann?

Railway improvement was one thing I’m glad we spent money on while we had it, though we started too late to get enough done and cut corners on the way. I was never really convinced by this Spanish-made rolling stock. Too cheap to buy French. But they’re comfortable, and a hell of an improvement on the old.

So I’m off to Dublin to sort out this lot in Leinster House. Oh OK, to see a girl. The upside of getting up for a train at seven in the morning is seeing the sunrise framed by a beautiful… railway shed. The downside of getting up for a train at seven in the morning is of course that it’s seven in the morning. To me that may as well be a visit to another country where I don’t speak the language. What, shops aren’t open? How does that work – where do morning people buy things?

And I made the foolish decision to travel in my suit. The things you do to impress ladies. Well that’s partly why. I must confess this is the first one I’ve ever owned and it feels like I’m playing dress-up. Plus, it cost a bit and I want to get some wear out of it before suits go out of fashion.

What I should have done is worn the usual combats and hoodie, and carried the suit. Voluminous pockets are a thousand times more practical for travel than tailoring. I could have nipped into the toilets and changed just before the train arrived. Superblogger! But I was worried it would get creased in a backpack.

Wrong idea. When you’re wearing a suit underneath a greatcoat, a portable computer slung over one shoulder, and a backpack that contains your ‘casual’ pair of German army boots, you are a crumpling machine. It couldn’t get more creased if you stuffed it in a horse.

And I feel wildly overdressed for a train in the middle of a bog. On the bright side though – if I turn up in Dublin looking crumpled and overburdened and like I haven’t had enough sleep, I may get interviewed by foreign TV.

Some Sort of an Introduction

So what is this thing called ‘Microcosmopolitan’? I’ll explain. Some years back I was challenged to describe Galway in one word. I cheated. I made the word up. It’s a hybrid of cosmopolitan and microcosm, because Galway is pretty damned interesting (Yes, this is your feel-good column), but at the same time small and self-contained. Almost a city-state, or as the Ancient Greeks called it, a polis. And at about fifty thousand in population it has now grown to the size which, if I remember correctly, Plato thought ideal: big enough for strength and diversity but still small enough to govern itself effectively.

UNIFORMS

Therefore the place would run like clockwork – if we had real self-government. The Greek idea was to do it by a sort of jury service, for the population to actually make decisions for themselves. The only decision we get to make is choosing councillors from the people political parties choose for us to choose from. Fix, or what? Not that the council has that much power anyway – I think they get to decide the colour of the parking wardens’ uniforms. Most decisions are made by the City Manager, appointed by Dublin.

Only one solution. Yep, our own flag and navy, why not? And some of those cruise missile things.

BIZARRE PRACTICES

So before I get carried away, this is the idea: Just as some papers will have a reporter in Zaïre, say, who sends back idiosyncratic personal sketches meant to inform you about what’s going on there, we have a correspondent right here at home. Saves a fortune on phone bills. And even if it never tells you anything new about Galway, it’ll make you realise how little you really know about Zaïre.

And we want to get this old-fashioned Graham Greene overseas reporter feel just right; therefore, your correspondent has gone native, got himself mixed up in bizarre local rituals and practices, and appears from his dispatches to be rapidly losing his grip on civilised reality. No need to thank me, it’s all part of the service.

PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS

Okay, now back to getting carried away. Yeah, cruise missiles are great. Any weapon inspired by a Chuck Jones cartoon is okay by me. It’s true, don’t you remember? In Daffy Duck; those Acme rockets that screech to a halt behind the victim, tap him on the shoulder and wait for him to turn around before blowing him to hell? Some US general saw that one night while ‘studying the military applications of psychedelic drugs’ and went “Yeah! Let’s have some of those babies!”.

But weapons that hit what they’re supposed to have to be an advance on ones that annihilate a whole general area. When it’s improved to the point where war becomes a matter of picking off the other side’s Marshalls and Presidents personally, that should be about the end of it.

INTERFLORA

Of course, they sometimes go and put nuclear warheads on cruise missiles anyway, which makes about as much sense as sending a nuclear letter bomb. In fact when you consider that they cost a million dollars apiece, it’s more like sending one by Interflora, with a nice note. I think Galway can get by without a nuclear deterrent, though France has been kind enough to offer us theirs¹. No thanks, we’re trying to give them up.

Which reminds me, there’s one thing I’ve always wondered about the need to test new nuclear weapons: What was wrong with the old ones, did they not work? If anybody out there is thinking of invading France, now might be a good time.

  1. A French nuclear-armed warship had recently visited, and been met with protest.