Sketch From The Journey Homeward

The MidlandsTravelling through the darkness of the midlands. There could be anything outside those windows. Anything but people. Might as well be in a submarine.

It’s a bus though. I am in favour of trains but you don’t get the low fares at weekends, and since they built motorway all the way to Galway it’s as fast as the train and almost as comfortable. Certainly quieter – this Volvo purrs like a contented fridge. Aside from legroom, the main reason to prefer the train is that it has power outlets. I am actually fine for power – two spare batteries after this one – but in this portable age charging equals comfort, discharging discomfort. Courtesy power outlets should really be everywhere. First pub I went to in Dublin had locks on their sockets. And they charged €4.50 for a coffee, which begins to border on crime. Opposite that National Leprechaun Museum, they were clearly tourist trappers.

What the bus does supply for free on the other hand is Wi-Fi, so I might as well use that instead of my own 3G. Good opportunity to download the new OpenOffice suite… And yet, I still resent the log-in procedure. They want to know my name, my e-mail address, and my impressions of the the service – before I can use it! I was bluntly honest about the last there, but apparently my address is now whynot@lsoaskmydicksi.ze.

Seems to work as well as any other.

It’s a shame because it makes what is a genuinely useful service suddenly feel like a trap. Will they give my details to marketeers? Perhaps it’s all in the terms and conditions, but dammit I’m on a bus, I don’t want to have to read a long document and consult a lawyer. Couldn’t the free Wi-Fi just be, you know, free? It’s not like non-customers are going to be stealing it after all. Not unless they run alongside.


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.

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