And Now For Something Completely Different

A Horse With Three Buttocks

Our confused summer stays confused. It’s sunny today so I insist on going for a walk in shorts and sandals, despite the fact that it’s bloody cold. It felt like it was good for me, though perhaps in an overly Nietzschean way.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of pretty pictures.

The road less travelled
Something about primrose paths, even though these are mainly daisies and some buttercups
What creepy haunted woods look like on bright summer’s days
A knight lives here

Good Morning, Afternoon

A nice spot to have breakfast. Admittedly it’s the time of day when most people are having Sunday dinner, but I was up until 8.00. Thwarted just when I thought I was finished by a hard disk error. I’ll spare you the gory details.

(Edited to add: That there by the way is Neachtains, my local pub, and a view down Quay Street. Just out of shot is the river and Galway Bay.)


God, The Sun!

Toasted Heretic Point Out The Profound Lack of Iberian Influence

At a Spanish cafĂ© 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. CĂșirt 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.


The First Column – Summer ’95

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Well that’s enough of summer for another decade. You know it’s the kids I feel sorry for. Not only will it seem like the summers were warmer when they were young, it’ll be true.

On the other hand it might be a trend, in which case it’ll boost tourism no end – and bankrupt the country. That’s right, didn’t you hear? Tourists cost the Western Health Board two million in excess of what it normally forks out. Apparently one of the many things tourists appreciate about Galway is our falling over. They come from all over the world to trip up here. And of course, collide with other vehicles when they forget which side to drive on because we, the British and – bizarrely – the Japanese all persist in going down the other side of the road from everybody else. One Councillor has proposed putting signs up all over the airports and ferry terminals to remind foreign drivers, presumably in all three hundred or so written languages there are in the world apart from English, Irish and Japanese. But I can’t see it making a lot of difference frankly. I mean, if a stream of oncoming traffic isn’t going to make you think, what is?

And it isn’t that the visitor just arrives from Germany say and blithely heads off down the wrong side of the road. At this stage, ‘Links, Links, Links’ is running through the head like a mantra, they’re trembling and sweating at the disorientating new experience, the subconscious is screaming this is all wrong this is a mirror I am actually driving backwards help! But soon they get used to it and begin to relax. After a few days in Ireland, it’s almost  like home.

And a few days after that, they pull out into a road merrily forgetting it isn’t home.

Speaking of causality, a concept from physics and a very common typing error for casualty, I was in there last week and the service was wonderful. Came in an ambulance with my foot all cut up, and they had me hobbling out again in less than an hour. You see I was walking around in the river, just by the Spanish Arch. Because I dropped my keys in. Don’t try it, it’s full of broken glass there. Of course I should have known that – only I hadn’t slept the night before and at the time nothing seemed more natural than to walk in the water. The way I felt, I almost walked on it. Anyway, I sliced a toe open right to the bone. Didn’t hurt much; in fact I was highly amused by the whole thing. “Hey, look at all this blood! Doesn’t it clash with the grass?” A couple of friends were down from Dublin, and I reckon I went to commendable lengths to entertain them. How often do you get a ride in an ambulance? Anyway, in casualty they X-rated my foot – not a typing error, that was on account of the gore – did it up with paper and glue, (yeah, paper and glue) and sent me off in high spirits.

Very high. Thanks to my lower brain’s mistaken idea that lack of sleep in combination with a deep wound meant I was in a war or something and needed all the chemical help I could get, I was feeling no pain. But they gave me painkillers anyway. (Actually, the injection of painkillers in the backside was the only part that did hurt.) So seeing as there was already a party going on in my body I went out, got drunk and stayed up until three in the morning. Did I ever mention that nobody will sell me health insurance?

You go and do something totally stupid, they give you an injection of really nice stuff. It’s no lesson in life, but it’s a great service and an entertaining way to spend the afternoon. No wonder it’s so popular with tourists.

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