I’m back home again – listening to Back Home Again being played on piano, oddly enough. But the trip has gotten me into the habit of taking photographs. I’m in O’Connor’s of Salthill, one of Galway‘s most attractive pubs, decorated with an eclectic, obsessive, and possibly mildly deranged eye for detail. Bicycles, old cameras, and all manner of crockery are suspended from the ceiling and walls. This is the fireplace; above it, as if to dry, hangs underwear .
The lighting is from oil lamps with bulbs fitted, dozens of them, These are augmented with old illuminated adverts – including, though I’m sure it has to be illegal, ones for cigarettes. Perhaps they get away with it because such brands as Player’s No.6 are no longer available. Just at the bottom here you can see part of one that says “Virol – anaemic girls need it”. No idea what Virol was, but I can’t imagine it sold a lot with copy like that.
Anyway I can recommend O’Connor’s of Salthill. Actually, I must get here more often myself.
At a Spanish café near the Spanish Arch, eating… scrambled eggs. I could have had an omelette but things were already getting out of hand. A tourist had come up to me and asked directions to Galway’s ‘Iberian style’ cathedral. He did mean the modern 60s one, I checked. His guidebook must be Europe On Drugs, I’m not seeing aything remotely Iberian about it. Frankly I don’t think it’s in any consistent taste whatever, except Questionable Irish-American. No seriously, the thing has what to every appearance is a shrine to John F. Kennedy.
Today though is for worshipping that most primal of gods, the sun. The best kept secret about the Irish climate is that it is frequently much better in April than it is in August. At this time of year it either rains or it’s hot. Of course, it can rain a lot… Last Monday we had cloudbursts – of hail, even. Including one right in the middle of my mother’s driving test, which didn’t help.
But this is infinitely preferable in my book to the overcast that can last throughout the ‘summer’ proper. It’s to be expected I suppose in a country that sits in a bowl of Atlantic. The summer sun on that water drives off so much vapour that it blocks the heat and light from us. So infuriating to be cold in mid-July, knowing that just beyond the great grey shell there’s a solar furnace at maximum. Nature can be a curse.
I call it a secret, but someone seems to have been blabbing. It’s thick with tourists around here already. Cúirt is on of course, but you don’t expect literary festivals to bring the horde down on you. Maybe there are more domestic holidaymakers than usual, what with The Economy.
Certainly seemed to be a lot of people out clubbing last night. Even though I picked the quietest route back from Salthill I still had to walk around two broken Bucky bottles. Buckfast tonic wine – the party drink made by monks. Maybe people drink it for the irony. Or possibly the sulphury. Must be something like that anyway; it tastes bloody awful.
Irony, and caffeine. The Bucky in a brown bottle, which for some reason is unique to Ireland, actually contains more caffeine by volume than Red Bull. And remember people dilute Red Bull, by adding vodka to it. So that’s why you see broken bottles everywhere. It’s not the 15% alcohol content that makes people clumsy. It’s the caffeine shakes.
Lohan’s bar in the seaside resort of Salthill, where my friend Maja is playing jazz on the piano. I’ve eaten a pretty good seafood chowder, and I’m sitting on a stool studying Linux, occasionally looking out at the full moon over the night sea. Life can be all right sometimes, can’t it?
I say studying, more reading up on the very basics. I’ve long regarded Linux as a step too far into the dark woods of geekhood, but now that my darn phone is running the stuff perhaps it is time to try and understand. Also I installed Ubuntu on my work PC a few months back, as some sort of convoluted and probably unnecessary intermediate stage while I was shuffling Windows licenses around, and I was very impressed. It was a silly thing that really got me – you could apply amusing effects to the whole desktop, stretching it like a rubber sheet, with a degree of responsiveness and realism I’d have thought impossible for my basic graphics hardware. I’ve never seen anything like that on Windows or OS X. Also there was the fact that you could download programs to do what you wanted without even having to consider the possibility of their being evil.
My besmitten-ness faded however as soon as I hit a snag. If I have a problem on Windows I can usually fix it. Hell, I can always fix it, some way or another. I’ve used Windows for work daily these last ten years, I’ve had to. But I come across a problem in Linux, I have simply no idea what to do.
And part of me says, maybe it should stay that way… My phone has a nice user-friendly system for installing and uninstalling apps, if something goes wrong I can simply remove the offending article or, if the worst comes to the worst, restore the phone to its factory conditions. And really, that is all I need to know.
But it’s no good. I can hear the siren’s song, with its refrain of “What does this do?” Before my eyes, suspended, is nature’s Big Red Button.