Poles of Steel

Bus Cartoon

In Dublin again. Beginning to get to know the transport system, though that didn’t stop me being more than half an hour late for a meeting yesterday. I waited at the train station for ages, but they kept going past without stopping. Even when I held my hand out.

Another bit of the money we spent while we had it has reached fruition: A modern bus information system is just coming on stream, with handsome stainless steel signs displaying waiting times. (You can get the same information online too of course.) The first ones have appeared along the quays. Great – one of those rare things that remind you we do actually live in Europe. Considerably later than some other countries of course but hey – so are the buses.

I jest. Dublin buses are not at all bad. Or at least, they weren’t. As they do have to save money somewhere, they’re cutting back drastically on, well, actual buses… Ten percent across the board, including big reductions of the night bus system. So if you live in a Dublin suburb and want to go out on any night other than Friday and Saturday – which are frankly quite hellish enough in central Dublin already – then remember to factor in a very expensive taxi home.

But it makes sense I guess. As there’s a severe recession on, people will be abandoning the luxury of cheap public transport and taking to cars in droves. No wait, that doesn’t sound right.

It’s A White Christmas, Dammit

An end to global warming? No. Climate is what happens over centuries, this is bad weather. At least people call it that – I happen to like the snow. The chief reason I like the snow is that it is not rain. If something cold must fall from the sky during the winter months, I prefer if it’s the one that brushes off.

And there’s the fact that it’s beautiful too, that helps. I know, a lot of people hate it for solid, practical reasons. It’s dangerous – well yes, but I bet deaths and injuries will be down compared to our usual Christmas carnage. Transport is buggered it is true. A friend of mine is trapped in Paris as we speak, another in San Francisco – I’d really like it if they could make it home for Christmas. Shops are going to be insane of course. If forecasters are to be believed and the snow won’t clear until Christmas Eve, all of Connacht is going to be in town for a last-minute shopping frenzy. I urge you who actually live here to get your shopping done before then, while there are still things left to get. Loved ones are puzzled and rarely pleased by a gift-wrapped supermarket shelf.

It has been inconvenient for me. I’m trying to learn to drive right now, and obviously you can’t really practise anything much in this weather. Apart from skid control. A lot of skid control. And as I was saying the other week, if I’m out of town it’s a mile walk on a Teflon pan to get to the bus. There still seems to be little sign of gritting from the County Council. I don’t say no sign – there is a light scattering of rock bits on the road just outside, at a density of maybe two gravicular particles per square footfall. Looks like they’re trying to make their precious dirt supplies last through the winter, but I’m not entirely sure what good so little actually does. I had to get outdoors early this morning to take delivery of a Christmas present – the house is so well hidden that you have to walk down to the road if you don’t want couriers to get lost. (Note to online retailers: I will buy from the one of you who clearly says “Will deliver by genuine actual post”.) He called for directions at 7.55. I had been asleep less than four hours at that point, so I wasn’t too clear at first about where he was – or indeed, where I was – but it transpired that he was just two miles away. He said he’d call back when he was close. He did. Half an hour later.

But wouldn’t it be good if this became our regular winter weather for a while? Yes I’m serious. It could be lovely – if we actually planned for it. If we could arrange not to need to fly the week before Christmas, if we actually could get our shopping done and supplies in. If the weather enforced on us that break from our hectic and ill-considered lives that we never seem to find time to take. We could have some, you know, Peace. On Earth.